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What is climate change? What could happen? Get all the facts you need to know.

A polar bear walks along a rocky shore, looking for food. The bear would usually be on the sea ice hunting for seals, pouncing when the seal comes up to breathe. But the ice has started to melt earlier and re-form later than it has in the past. Without the sea ice, the polar bear must scavenge for other, less nutritious food.

These changes in polar sea ice are a result of climate change. But this isn’t just affecting polar bears – climate change affects everyone.

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  1. Climate change /klaɪ.mət tʃeɪndʒ/:  biến đổi khí hậu
  2. Polar bear /ˌpoʊ.lɚ ˈber/: gấu trắng Bắc cực
  3. To walk along /wɔk əˈlɔŋ/: tiến bước, đi dọc theo
  4. Rocky shore /rɑki ʃɔr/:  bờ đá
  5. To look for /lʊk fɔr/: tìm kiếm
  6. To hunt for /hʌnt fɔr/: săn lùng
  7. To pounce /paʊns/: vồ lấy, xông vào bất thình lình
  8. To scavenge /ˈskæv.ɪndʒ/: nhặt nhạnh (rác)
  9. Nutrious food /nuˈtrɪʃəs fud/: thực phẩm bổ dưỡng
  10.  To affect /əˈfekt/: có ảnh hưởng tới

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What is climate change?

Weather changes day to day—sometimes it rains, other days it’s hot. Climate is the pattern of the weather conditions over a long period of time for a large area. And climate can be affected by Earth’s atmosphere.

Our Earth is surrounded by an atmosphere made up of gases. When sunlight enters our atmosphere, some of the sun’s heat is trapped by the gas, and some bounces back out into space. By trapping that heat, our atmosphere keeps Earth warm enough to live on. Without it, our planet would be very cold, like Mars.

Earth’s climate has always naturally cycled through change, caused by how much of the sun’s energy was absorbed by the atmosphere. In fact over the past 650,000 years, the Earth has gone through seven ice ages and warming periods.

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  1.  Day to day /ˌdeɪ.təˈdeɪ/: ngày qua ngày
  2.  Pattern /pæt̬.ɚn/: kiểu, khuôn, mẫu
  3.  Be made up of /meɪd ʌp ʌv/: được tạo thành bởi
  4.  To trap /træp/: bắt, giữ
  5.  Mars /mɑːrz/: sao Hỏa
  6.  Cycle /ˈsaɪ.kəl/: vận động chu kì
  7.  To absorb /əbˈzɔːrb/: hấp thụ

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What’s different now?

But during the past few hundred years, oil, gas, and coal have powered homes, cars, and factories. These energy sources release a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. This gas traps heat that would otherwise escape Earth’s atmosphere. That increases Earth’s temperature, which contributes to the planet’s warming.

That’s why many scientists agree that the Earth is now warming because of human activity. How do they know? Through careful study, they know that the climate is warming about 10 times faster than the average previous warming times. They’ve also ruled out the natural factors that caused warming in the past.

The Earth’s average temperature has increased about 1.5°F in the past hundred years. It doesn’t sound like much, but scientists think that the temperature increase has caused melting glaciers, drought, and coral reef die-off. (Coral can’t survive in water that’s too warm). They expect the climate will warm another .5°F to 8.6°F by the year 2100.

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  1.  Oil, gas and coal /oil, gas, ænd koʊl/: dầu, khí ga và than đá
  2.  Contribute to /kənˈtrɪbjut tu/: đóng góp vào, góp phần vào
  3.  Rule out /rul aʊt/: loại trừ
  4.  Increase /ɪnˈkriːs/: tăng lên
  5.  Melt /melt/: tan chảy
  6.  Glacier /ɡleɪ.si.ɚ/: sông băng
  7.  Drought /draʊt/: hạn hán
  8.  Coral reef /ˌkɔːr.əl ˈriːf/: rạn san hô

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What could happen?

Climate change affects more than temperature. Warmer water changes the patterns of ocean currents, affecting global weather patterns.

Some places will receive more rainfall, which could lead to flooding, while other places will get less, which might mean drought. Tropical storms could be stronger, and a continuing rise in sea level due to melting polar ice might push people out of their homes.

Hundreds of plant and animal species have already experienced changes because of climate change. The American pika, for example, is a small mammal that lives in cool mountainous areas in western North America—in fact, it can die when exposed to temperatures warmer than 78˚F. So as the mountain climate heats up, the pika climbs the slopes in search of cooler habitat. But what happens when temperatures at the top become too warm for the pika?

Other species will benefit from a warmer world—but in some cases that would be bad news for humans. Because disease-carrying mosquitoes thrive in warm, wet weather, more people could contract illnesses such as malaria as the Earth warms.

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  1.  Rainfall /ˈreɪn.fɑːl/: mưa rào
  2.  To lead to /lid tu/: dẫn đến
  3.  Flood /flʌd/: lũ lụt
  4.  Tropical storm /trɑpɪkəl stɔrm/: bão nhiệt đới
  5.  To push someone/somebody out of /pʊʃ aʊt ʌv/: đẩy ai đó/cái gì ra khỏi
  6.  Mammal /ˈmæm.əl/: động vật có vú
  7.  Expose to /ɪkˈspoʊz tu/: tiếp xúc với
  8.  Heat up /hit ʌp/: nóng lên
  9.  Climb the slope /klaɪm ðə sloʊp/: leo dốc 
  10.  Disease-carrying mosquito /dɪˈziz ˈkæriɪŋ məˈskiː.t̬oʊ/: muỗi mang bệnh
  11.  Thrive /θraɪv/: rất phát triển
  12.  Malaria /məˈler.i.ə/: bệnh sốt rét

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