Lesson 6.7: Social Studies Connection

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Who Turned Up the Heat?

Penguins waddle down a snow-covered hill. They dive into the cold waters off the Antarctic Peninsula. The peninsula is on the continent of Antarctica. That area is very cold.

Penguins called Adélies (ah-DEH-lees) are hunting for krill. Krill are tiny, shrimplike animals. This year, there is less krill for the penguins to eat. Scientists say that is because very little winter sea ice formed this year. The ice holds the tiny food the krill eat.

Several million Adélie penguins once lived on the Antarctic Peninsula. By the late 1980s, their numbers decreased by half, scientist Wayne Trivelpiece told Weekly Reader.

Ice in that area once formed every winter and melted away in the summer. Trivelpiece said that recently winter ice has been “forming only once every five to six years.”

Meltdown!

Many scientists say the disappearing ice is caused by global warming. That is the slow increase in temperature around the world.

Most scientists say people are partly to blame for global warming. When people drive cars and use electricity, they burn fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Fossil fuels come from the remains of plants and animals that lived long ago. The burning of fossil fuels gives off gases that add to the overheating of Earth.

“Our research teaches a lesson,” said Trivelpiece. “Even a small change in the environment can have a big effect.”

The burning of fossil fuels gives off carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide and other gases around Earth trap heat from the sun. That can cause a rise in temperature around the world. That rise is known as global warming.

The burning of fossil fuels gives off carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide and other gases around Earth trap heat from the sun. That can cause a rise in temperature around the world. That rise is known as global warming.

Word Wise

peninsula:
A piece of land jutting out into the water: The state of Florida is a peninsula.

krill:
Tiny shrimplike animals that penguins like to eat: Penguins hunt and eat krill.

global warming:
The slow increase in temperature around the world: Scientists are concerned about global warming and the effect it will have on animals around the world.

temperature:
A degree of hotness or coldness measured on a thermometer: The thermometer says that today's temperature is 65 degrees.

fossil fuels:
Resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas that come from the earth. When people drive their cars they are burning off fossil fuels.

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Activity

Choose the correct verbs to complete the paragraph below.

Penguins (is, are) very interesting animals. They (has, have) wings called flippers. They (use, uses) their flippers to swim underwater. I (think, thinks) penguins are so cool!

Data Hunt

How might people reduce their need for fossil fuels?

Talk to a group of classmates about ideas for reducing the need for fossil fuels. Ask them to suggest alternative ways other than driving that could help reduce the effects of global warming.

Make a chart of the suggestions and then survey another group of classmates, asking them which types of changes they would be willing to make to help stop global warming.

Create a line plot graphing this information.