Q. Dear Twig: What's causing global climate change? Some people say it's people. Some people say that's bunk.
A. I'm a bug. An insect. A northern walking stick. So I'll base what I say on the brains of humans who actually study the question. I'll base what I say on the work and the facts of 2,500 scientists: the men and women who pitched in to put out a big new report on climate change.
The report, due Feb. 2, says this: that, yes, global climate change is really going on. And that the main cause "very likely" is people. (In this case, "very likely" means the scientists are 90-99 percent sure.)
To be exact, the changes — warmer-than-normal weather, melting ice caps, etc. — are caused by things people do.
To be more exact, the changes are caused by things people do that involve burning fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and gas).
The United Nations wrote the report. The scientists came from 130 countries. Read more here: http://www.ipcc.ch/. Watch for news about it this week.
P.S. The name of the United Nations team? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Notes: Sources included the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, http://www.ipcc.ch/; a Jan. 25 Reuters story titled "Interview — UN Climate Report Will Shock the World — Chairman"; a Jan. 27 story in The Guardian, "UN's Vast Report Will End the Scientific Argument. Now Will the World Act?"; and a Jan. 28 Associated Press story titled "Some Experts Blast Latest Climate Report" (actually as being too sugarcoated). Got a question? Send it to Twig's right-hand lefthanded assistant, Kurt Knebusch, email@example.com.
About this column: "Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," a free public service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences - specifically, of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, both part of the College - is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. The reading level typically rates at grades 3.5-4.5. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, firstname.lastname@example.org, (330) 263-3776. Online at extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.