global warming sign

A Definition of Global Warming

If you are new to the subject of global warming then it makes sense for your first port of call to look up a definition of global warming. On this page we are going to define global warming in simple terms as well as provide a simple global warming definition for kids as this is a subject that is widely covered in schools and colleges across the world.

We have covered what global warming is, or climate change as it is otherwise known, on our main page and that is a more profound and in depth definition of global warming, so it may be worth you having a look there too. The phrase 'global warming' is something that has been used for many years and it carries a very negative stigma as many people across the world believe that it is responsible for all that is wrong on our planet today.

In layman's terms the definition of global warming is the effect that greenhouse gasses have on the climate of the earth. Examples of greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, water vapor and methane, for a full list and explanation of greenhouse gasses please check out our dedicated greenhouse gasses page. Of course that is a simple statement but what you want to know is what does it actually mean?

It is important to remember that global warming caused by the greenhouse effect, is a natural occurrence as well as one that is created by the human race. When you look for your global warming definition on the internet you will come across a lot of opinion and you will find that the majority of these opinions are that global warming is something that is brought on by mankind and mankind only, this is NOT the case and we will continue to explain why.

Greenhouses gases are a natural part of the earth's biosphere and they would be there whether mankind was around or not, so despite the fact that some greenhouse gases are created by the human race, there are still others that are not. It is also true to say that these greenhouse gases are a fundamental part of the planet's climate control because if they were not there at all then the earth's temperatures would be constantly very cold, around freezing as an average! The greenhouse gases that are produced naturally are responsible for maintaining a higher temperature of just under 60 degrees, a temperature that humans, animals and plants alike find much more tolerable!

The greenhouse gases rise and are caught in the earth's atmosphere and they then proceed to trap heat which makes the earth warmer(this is global warming in a nutshell). The heat and light from the sun travel down to the earth and are absorbed to make it warm. Some of the heat and light is reflected back up and will just go into space or some will not have even made it to the earth as it will have bounced back off of clouds. The gasses in the atmosphere prevent the heat and light going back into space and cause it to bounce back again to the earth and thus make it warmer than it should be.

The natural course of things would be that the gases would be in the atmosphere but only to a certain degree which would mean it would only be able to stop a certain amount of heat and light escaping into space. The human effect when you think about the definition of global warming is that there are more gases because of human actions and thus more heat and light than is necessary is bounced back to heat the earth. Human intervention has spoiled the natural course of things, but to how much of an extent this is true is something that is a cause of huge debate, speculation and opinion.

For those of you that want a very basis global warming definition please see our global warming definition for kids further down the page and for those of you that would like a more in depth look at the matter check out the diagram that follows our simple way of looking at the global warming definition.

A simple way of looking at the global warming definition

A practical example of the greenhouse effect and how it causes global warming is portrayed in this simple global warming definition.

On a hot summers day you will often go to get in your car and it will be absolutely baking inside. The car has been out on your drive, or in the car park, for hours in the sun and the heat from the sun has heated it up, with the heat inside being unable to escape to allow it to cool down. The heat enters through the glass windows but is not reflected back out, hence why the temperature in there does nothing but rise. That is what happens when the heat gets in between the earth and the gasses in the atmosphere. The heat may be a comfortable warm when you get in, or it may just be too hot for you to handle. This is the case with the earth, it is warmed to a degree where life on the planet can live with it, but if it continues to keep rising then it can end up doing damage to that life.

This is a kind of simple definition of global warming without the science!

Below we have provided a diagram that highlights the information that we have given you in our definition of global warming:

greenhouse gasses

Global warming definition for kids

If you are at school, or you have kids that are at school, and the subject of the day is global warming then the chances are you will be asked to seek or make up your own definition of global warming. We are not suggesting that you copy our global warming definition for kids word for word but what we have provided you with is the meaning in a nutshell. Our global warming definition for kids can easily be reworded to make your own version, so here goes:

Global warming happens when the earth is heated up due to rising temperatures. The reason that temperatures are rising is because gases that are known as 'greenhouse gases' are capturing light and heat from the sun in the earth's atmosphere. The result of the rise in temperature is that changes are made to the environment and the way that people, animals and plants live. Some of the people, animals and plants are not able to cope with the changes and they die.

The main question that will arise from the above global warming definition for kids is 'how are the greenhouse gasses capturing the heat and the light?'. Well what happens with the heat and the light that the sun gives off is that it travels down to earth, some of it gets all the way to the surface and is reflected back up and into space, some bounces back off of the clouds in the sky and goes back into space too before it even reaches the earth. This is how it should be so that the earth does not get too warm, after all the sun is not trying to cook the earth! However, the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere will act as a blanket and hold the heat and stop it from bouncing back into space so it will travel back to the earth to heat it some more.

One last important thing to remember is where the greenhouse gasses come from? The greenhouse gasses come from the earth when humans burn coal, oil and gas which are known as fossil fuels. They also come from a variety of other sources too such as waste gas from animals and plants.

Examples of greenhouse gasses to use with your global warming definition are:

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Water vapor
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Methane

You will commonly find that global warming is referred to as the 'greenhouse effect'. For further information on what this phrase means please see our page on what is the greenhouse effect?

Want to know all about what the effects of global warming are? Please see our page on the subject as this will be really helpful to go with the information on this page.

One of the best ways to define global warming is by using a diagram and we have used two very simple diagrams below that can be used alongside your global warming definition for kids.

Diagrams to help with definition of global warming for kids

This diagram is a simple and effective way to help define global warming. Please feel free to print them off or if you have got to produce a global warming definition at school then why not use these diagrams to help you draw your own picture? When trying to define global warming it is often very helpful to use a diagram.

global warning diagram

More information

We hope that you have found our basis definition of global warming useful along with our global warming definition for kids and the diagrams that accompany it. Many of the aspects of global warming on this page are covered in further detail on our dedicated pages such as greenhouse gases and the causes of global warming. Other important factors relating to the subject such as global warming effects, how to stop global warming and evidence of global warming are also covered on this site.

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