BOSTON (CBS) – The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. Since then, the average U.S. temperature has warmed by 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit. In the city of Boston, the temperature has warmed by 1.4 degrees.

Climate change describes a change in average conditions like temperature and rainfall over a long period of time. You may just say our world is getting warmer. Sure, but why? And why is that bad? And how do you explain it to kids?

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Let’s start with the basics. To power cars, homes and businesses, we burn coal, oil and natural gas. These resources are called fossil fuels.

These fossil fuels release an invisible gas into the air like carbon dioxide, called Greenhouse Gasses. Now, there is a very protective shield around Earth called an atmosphere and it wraps around earth like a blanket. These Greenhouse Gasses get trapped and make this blanket thicker, causing our world to warm faster.

The blanket is too thick, which hurts plants, animals and humans.

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So we need to make small changes to have a big impact on Earth. Alicia Barton, CEO of FirstLight Power, the largest clean energy company in New England about what we can do.

“I think it is important however to start to educate our kids from an early stage about the environment and how fragile it is,” Barton explains. “There are lots of opportunities to clean up local parks to participate in volunteer days… and to think about things like planting  vegetables in your own garden and focusing on those local sustainability issues that are great learning opportunities for kids.”

And as kids grow, so can the discussion on climate change.

“So you have to start with the basics and obviously be age appropriate. But as kids get older you can continue to focus on educating them about the issue of what climate change is but what are some of the solutions are…and technologies, which you really can see all around us,” Barton said.

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Identifying clean energy solutions like solar panels, electric car changing stations, and wind turbines can be a great learning opportunity to have a conversations about where our energy comes from and the choices we have to get it.

Sarah Wroblewski