What Is Climate and Climate Change?

Our weather is always changing and now scientists are discovering that our climate does not stay the same either. Climate, the average weather over a period of many years, differs in regions of the world that receive different amounts of sunlight and have different geographic factors, such as proximity to oceans and altitude.

Climates will change if the factors that influence them fluctuate. To change climate on a global scale, either the amount of heat that is let into the system changes, or the amount of heat that is let out of the system changes. For instance, warming climates are either due to increased heat let into the Earth or a decrease in the amount of heat that is let out of the atmosphere. The heat that enters into the Earth system comes from the Sun. Sunlight travels through space and our atmosphere, heating up the land surface and the oceans. The warmed Earth then releases heat back into the atmosphere. However, the amount of sunlight let into the system is not always the same. Changes in Earth s orbit over thousands of years and changes in the Sun s intensity affect the amount of solar energy that reaches the Earth. Heat exits the Earth system as the Earth s surface, warmed by solar energy, radiates heat away. However, certain gases in our atmosphere, called greenhouse gases, allow the lower atmosphere to absorb the heat radiated from the Earth s surface, trapping heat within the Earth system. Greenhouse gases, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, are an important part of our atmosphere because they keep Earth from becoming an icy sphere with surface temperatures of about 0°F. However, over the past century or so the amounts of greenhouse gases within our atmosphere have been increasing rapidly, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Consequently, in the past one hundred years global temperatures have been increasing more rapidly than the historic record shows. Scientists believe this accelerated heating of the atmosphere is because increasing amounts of these greenhouse gases trap more and more heat. Top Ten Things You Need to Know about Global Warming

There are a number of widely held misconceptions about climate change, and unfortunately, these are reflected in some of the educational materials available on the web. It is therefore crucial for teachers to educate themselves and their students with accurate information and be careful not to reinforce common but incorrect notions. The following primer is a good place to begin. #1 Global warming is caused primarily by carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and gas. Certain gases that trap heat are building up in Earth's atmosphere. The primary culprit is carbon dioxide, released from burning coal, oil and natural gas in power plants, cars, factories, etc. (and to a lesser extent when forests are cleared). The second is methane, released from rice paddies, both ends of cows, rotting garbage in landfills, mining operations, and gas pipelines. Third are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and similar chemicals, which are also implicated in the separate problem of ozone depletion (see #5 below). Nitrous oxide (from fertilizers and other chemicals) is fourth. #2 Earth's average temperature has risen about 1 degree F in the past 100 years and is projected to rise another 3 to 10 degrees F in the next 100 years. While Earth's climate has changed naturally throughout time, the current rate of change due to human activity is unprecedented during at least the last 10,000 years. The projected range of temperature rise is wide because it includes a variety of possible future conditions, such as whether or not we control greenhouse gas emissions and different ways the climate system might respond. Temperatures over the US are expected to rise more than over the globe as a whole because land areas closer to the poles are projected to warm faster than those nearer the equator. #3 There is scientific consensus that global warming is real, is caused by human activities, and presents serious challenges.

average sea level around the world has already risen 4 to 8 inches in the past 100 years due to global warming and is expected to rise another 4 to 35 inches (with a best guess of around 19 inches) by 2100. in the stratosphere. Long-term data are needed to determine changes in climate. #4 There's a difference between weather and climate. there are a number of connections between the two. although the weather on a particular day could be quite different than that. In fact. it cause temperatures higher up. Ozone depletion is a different problem. Many people are under the mistaken impression that only if the polar ice caps melt will sea level rise. such as less skiing but more hiking. This stratospheric cooling speeds ozone depletion. where snowpack provides free storage of most of the water supply. #5 The ozone hole does not cause global warming. CFCs deplete the stratospheric ozone layer that protects life on Earth from excess ultraviolet light that can cause skin cancer and cataracts in humans and other damage to plants and animals. In addition. While global warming will have impacts on natural and human systems all around the world. The primary reason for this rise is that water expands as it warms.Scientists working on this issue report that the observed global warming cannot be explained by natural variations such as changes in the sun's output or volcanic eruptions. Natural ecosystems such as coral reefs. but that use was banned in the US in 1978. arctic tundra. And ozone itself is a greenhouse gas. partly because these chemicals remain in the atmosphere for a long time. while greenhouse gas build-up causes temperatures close to Earth's surface to rise. delaying the recovery of the ozone hole. #7 Sea level has already risen due to warming and is projected to rise much more. refers to the long-term average pattern of weather in a place. In the western US. In the past. and such data indicate that Earth's climate has been warming at a rapid rate since the start of intensive use of coal and oil in the late 1800s. CFCs were also used in aerosol spray cans. and season to season. For example. moist and sunny. On the positive side. and can change from hour to hour. The most authoritative source of information is the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which draws upon the collective wisdom of many hundreds of scientists from around the world. Plant and animal species will migrate or disappear in response to changes in climate. Some of the compounds now replacing CFCs in order to protect ozone are also greenhouse gases. and fewer killing frosts but more bugs. Coastal areas will become more vulnerable to storm surges as sea level rises. We can probably expect more extreme wet and dry conditions. For example. many ozone-depleting compounds are also greenhouse gases. and alpine meadows are especially vulnerable and may disappear entirely in some areas. mangrove swamps. we might say that the climate of South Florida is warm. on the other hand. day to day. An international agreement has phased out most uses of CFCs but the ozone layer is only just beginning to recover. the largest impacts will be on many natural ecosystems and on people who live in developing countries and have few resources and little ability to adapt. warmer winters will reduce cold-related stresses and growing seasons will lengthen. to fall. reduced snowpack will make less water available in summer.) #6 Global warming will have significant impacts on people and nature. (Although ozone depletion is not the cause of global warming. As temperatures continue to rise. And there will be tradeoffs in some areas. precipitation is projected to come more frequently in the form of heavy downpours. New England may lose its lobsters and maple trees as they move north into Canada. Weather refers to the conditions at one particular time and place. The second reason is that . caused mainly by CFCs (like Freon) once used in refrigerators and air conditioners. Climate. The IPCC projects global temperature increases of 3 to 10 degrees F in the next 100 years and says that human activity is the cause of most of the observed and projected warming.

What Happens When Climate Changes? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a group of scientists from around the world. And many negative impacts of climate change are likely to be more severe for poorer countries that lack the resources to adapt. This is projected to occur on a time scale of millennia rather than centuries. This would require a major transformation of the energy sector. We can preserve existing forests and plant new ones. The US has more technological and financial resources than other nations. it remains there for about a century. brought together by the United Nations to assess our understanding and the potential impacts of climate change. the water runs to the sea and increases its level. Major increases in public and private research and development are needed to make the necessary technologies available as rapidly and economically as possible. as are low-lying coastal areas such as southern Florida. Thousands of small islands are threatened by the projected sea-level rise for the 21st century. Of course. The role of the US in reducing its own emissions and sharing its technologies with other nations will thus be critical to the success of international efforts to limit climate change. But even if we take aggressive action now. But our actions now and in the coming decades will have enormous implications for future generations. governments and individuals have already committed to reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases without laws or treaties requiring them to do so. We can encourage our political and business leaders to institute policies that will save energy and develop alternative energy sources that do not release carbon dioxide. #9 An international agreement known as the Kyoto Protocol has been negotiated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. it accumulates.glaciers all over the world are melting. and has global effects. including large increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy. the US has long emitted more carbon dioxide than any other country. while using large amounts of energy to achieve economic growth. Thus. Researchers are also developing technology to capture and bury carbon dioxide thousands of feet underground. and using solar energy where feasible for water and space heat. the additional rise in sea level would be enormous (measured in feet not inches). but the US is not participating in it. . choosing fuel efficient cars and appliances (like refrigerators and water heaters). Some companies. Because of its high energy consumption. if there is any significant melting of the polar ice sheets. #8 Saving energy and developing alternative energy sources would help. the US and other wealthy nations have unintentionally burdened the rest of the world with a long-term problem. Every five years they do a follow-up study to assess recent findings. becomes equally distributed around the world. we cannot completely prevent climate change because once carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere. and when land-based ice melts. It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions would have to be reduced to less than one third of current levels to stabilize atmospheric concentrations. Most important. A mix of new and existing energy technologies will be needed to achieve this. Meanwhile. Each of us can reduce our contribution to global warming by using less greenhouse-gas-producing energy: driving less. Because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for about 120 years. #10 Protecting the world's climate by stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will require enormous reductions in current emissions. and the climate system takes a long time to respond to changes. the Kyoto Protocol in its present form is only a start and would not be nearly enough to stabilize climate. we do not have to wait for the government to take action. Even if ratified.

That may not sound like very much.6°C (1. temperatures will rise much more than they did during the past century. the world s surface air temperature has increased an average of 0. Since temperatures will likely continue to climb. According to the IPCC s current findings. .they are identifying our options for lessening the rate of change and describing how societies can adapt to it.0 °F) during the 20th Century. it is important to understand how the Earth has responded to climate change during the past century and to be able to better predict how it may respond in the future. but even one degree can cause changes around the world. given the accelerating rate of temperature rise. the IPCC projects that during the 21st century. Additionally.

Additionally. as tropical oceans continue to warm. Floods Warmer temperatures cause more evaporation of water. stronger hurricanes might stir up trouble in the future. Melting Arctic Sea Ice Today. Certain natural ecosystems such as wetlands and coral reefs would also be in jeopardy as sea level rises so rapidly. melting Arctic sea ice may eventually lead to global changes in water circulation. This is because places that are typically dry. . Mountain glaciers have become much smaller during the past century. About a quarter of the world s coral reefs have died in the last few decades. Models predict that sea level may rise as much as 85 cm (33 inches) during the 21st century. such as the centers of continents. eventually leads to more precipitation. as part of thewater cycle.Sea-Level Rise Sea level has risen 10-20 cm (4-8 inches) during the 20th century. Future warming may have consequences for other communities of marine life as well. melting Arctic sea ice does not contribute to sea-level rise. This would have dramatic effects on low-lying coastal communities as shoreline erosion threatens houses and freshwater supplies are contaminated with salty water. will experience even more evaporation as global temperatures climb. In fact. The increased volume of water is a result of both the melting of glaciers and the expansion of water with heat. about the same amount that the cover of sea ice used to reflect. especially those in low latitude locations like Mount Kenya in Africa and the Andes in South America. the world has seen a 5-10% increase in precipitation over the past century. the frequency of heavy rainfall events generally is likely to rise with global warming. potentially preventing the pattern of deep ocean currents from rising to the surface. Scientists are still deciphering whether drought is currently increasing. The water from melted ice forms a layer at the sea surface that is less dense than the underlying water because it is less salty. many of them affected by coral bleaching. However. melting sea ice speeds up warming of the Arctic because water absorbs 80% of sunlight. Droughts While some parts of the world are treated to more precipitation as global warming persists. Just like an ice cube melting in a glass of water. a process tied directly to warming waters which weakens the coral animals. summer sea ice in the Arctic is about half as thick as it was in 1950. Warmer oceans Although a swim in a warm ocean sounds pleasant enough. which. increasing the potential for flooding. don t be deceived! Warmed sea-surface temperatures have been responsible for major destruction and will continue to wreak havoc as global temperatures climb. However. Additionally. other parts may experience increased levels of drought as temperatures rise. except by the expansion of seawater with heat.

They may discover one more by the time you get old. As global temperatures warm. There is already evidence in Europe that the growing season has extended several days since the 1960s. . Even though matter can be found all over the universe. You should know about solids. The first four have been around a long time. the amount of food harvested will likely decrease with even small amounts of climate change. migrating to new locations that are more like their current climate. Matter is anything made of atoms and molecules.Heat Waves Heat waves are a great health risk. Matter is the Stuff Around You Matter is everything around you. Matter is also related to light and electromagnetic radiation. gases. plasmas. The scientists who worked with the Bose-Einstein condensate received a Nobel Prize for their work in 1995. many areas are becoming unsuitable for agriculture. For example. with spring plants now blooming about 6 days earlier and fall colors coming about 5 days later Ecosystems change Scientists believe that ecosystems will probably respond to climate change in one of two ways. adapting to the changed climate. there is likely to be an increase in the number of heat waves and their intensity. with some species becoming less abundant or locally extinct and others thriving under the new conditions. you usually find it in just a few forms. In tropical areas that are already dry and hot. a 1995 heat wave in Chicago caused 514 heat-related deaths. As of 1995. liquids. mostly within Africa. and a new one called Bose-Einstein condensates. Agriculture With drought affecting some areas and heat intensifying in the tropics. Matter is anything that has a mass. But what makes a state of matter? It's about the physical state of molecules and atoms. leading to an increase in the number of heat related deaths. will be hungry because of climate change. Less agriculture means less food. Either ecosystems will move. warmer winters mean that many deaths related to cold temperatures might be avoided and that the growing season will last longer. scientists have identified five states of matter. Warmer Winters A possible upside to global warming. about 80 million people. or they will change. Scientists predict that by the 2080s.

Changing States of Matter Elements and compounds can move from onephysical state to another and not change. The compound water is made up of two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (O) atom. If you added another oxygen atom. and other physical properties. or solid. Atoms Around Us . liquid. temperatures. The basic chemical structure does not change. It has the same molecular structure whether it is a gas. pressures. Changing states of matter is about changing densities. "What is a chemical state?" If the formula of water were to change. The liquid state is colder and denser but the molecules are still the same. So you ask. Oxygen (O2) as a gas still has the same properties as liquid oxygen. Water is another example. Its molecules would not be water anymore. Although its physical state may change. its chemical state remains the same. you would make hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). that would be a chemical change.

you will . If you want to build proteins. you will need an alphabet.If you want to have a language.

need amino acids. Other examples in chemistry are not any different. . If you want to build molecules.

you will need elements. Each element is a little bit different from the rest. Those elements are the .

.alphabet to the language of molecules.

.

Why are we talking about elements? This is the section on atoms. .

protons. If you read a book. And for each letter.Populations . While the atoms may have different weights and organization.Particles of matter . Letters make up that language.Galaxies .. ..Organisms .. Confused? Don't be.Let's stretch the idea a bit.Planets . All elements are made of atoms. you will read a language. Elements are like those letters. They have something in common.Biospheres . ATOMS = BUILDING BLOCKS .Cells . It just goes on. If you want to do a little more thinking. But what makes those letters possible? Ummm.Planetary Systems with Stars . You could start really small.The Universe .Tissues .Cell organelles . That's where atoms come in. they are all built in the same way.Systems . start with particles of matter.Organs . Elements are used to create molecules.Atoms . Matter. is used to create atoms. Atoms are used to create the elements. Everything you see is built by using something else.Ecosystems . Ink? Yes! You need ink to crate the letters. the stuff around us.Macromolecules . All of that is possible because of atoms. and neutrons make the universe go. Wow.And finish really big.. it is the same type of ink.Elements .Molecules . Electrons.

Even though those super tiny atomic particles exist. protons. You have a basic atom. tiny pieces of matter. But guess what? There are even smaller particles moving around in atoms. equal numbers of electrons and protons. Scientists call the center of the atom the nucleus. You can also see that each piece has either a "+". you can move to the biochemistry tutorials and see how atoms form compounds that help the biological world survive. As you learn more. and neutrons? A picture works best. We're going to cover basics like atomic structure and bonding between atoms. electrons. tiny. They are the basis for everything in the Universe. The electron always has a "-" or negative charge. but you may have heard of nucleons and quarks. protons. You should start by remembering that matter is composed of atoms. Scientists have many names for those pieces. The third particle is the neutron. There are three pieces to an atom. or a "0. and protons. protons. The electrons are always found whizzing around the center in areas called orbitals. Atoms and the study of atoms are a world unto themselves. Mixtures & Compounds . It has a neutral charge (a charge of zero). and neutrons. protons. and neutrons.Atoms are the basis of chemistry. What are electrons. Molecules. The parts are the electrons. Nuclear chemists and physicists work together with particle accelerators to discover the presence of these tiny. These super-small particles can be found inside the protons and neutrons. The proton always has a "+" or positive charge. static electricity. there are over 100 elements in the periodic table. You'll soon be learning that atoms are composed of pieces like neutrons. that means there are equal numbers of positive and negative pieces. or lightning? Those are all different types of electric charges." That symbol refers to the charge of the particle. That's all you have to remember. You know when you get a shock from a socket. There are electrons. "-". and neutrons. There are even charges in tiny particles of matter like atoms. Three things! As you know. there are three basic parts of an atom. SMALLER THAN ATOMS? Are there pieces of matter that are smaller than atoms? Sure there are. If the charge of an entire atom is "0". The protons and neutrons are always in the center of the atom. The thing that makes each of those elements different is the number of electrons.

table salt is formed only of sodium chloride (NaCl) molecules. you'll see the names of each of these elements and some of their properties (such as mass. Organic compound is the name for the carbon compounds found in all living things. . is made up of different compounds and/or elements. compounds are formed of molecules of the same sort. Your kids might find it helpful to do a science research project finding other common compounds around your house. but only "mix" together while still retaining their identities. ones that have identical chemical properties. If you look at a periodic table. which means that the atoms cannot be separated again by physical means. and other gases for life on Earth. hydrogen. These parts are so incredibly small that scientists can only believe that they are there. they formmolecules. The atoms in molecules bind together chemically. however. plus man-made ones. based on the behaviors that atoms display. and surrounded by electrons. The elements can be combined into about 2 million different compounds! Did you know that eggshells are made up of a calcium carbonate compound? And citric acid. containing just the right amounts of nitrogen. They contain only atoms of the same type. Make hypotheses and do research using a chemistry reference book. A water molecule is not three separate atoms. but not the smaller particles that form the atom. liquid mixtures (such as saltwater) are called solutions. Salt water does. There are at least 90 naturally-occurring elements. Apure substance consists of a single element or compound. but it is actually a unique H2O molecule with its own set of distinct properties. Not all mixtures have the same composition throughout. but Italian salad dressing does not--the parts separate and are not perfectly blended orhomogenous. it becomes a mixture. There are more carbon compounds than compounds of any other element. The molecule has different properties from the elements from which is was made. or how heavy the atom is). A mixture. scientists have discovered that atoms themselves are made up of even smaller particles: an atom has a central nucleus made up of protons and neutrons. Mixtures of metals are called alloys (bronze is an alloy of copper and tin). Mixtures . Molecules & Compounds When atoms from different elements are joined together in groups. When salt is added to water to make saltwater. This computer screen is made up of atoms and so are your eyes and the rest of your body! In the last 110 years. which is found in oranges and other citrus fruit. oxygen. Electron microscopes allow scientists to "see" highly magnified images of some atoms. two hydrogen (H) and one oxygen (O). or text book to find out the answers.The universe is made up of atoms. Elements are the simplest substances in nature that cannot be broken down into smaller parts by normal chemical means. The salt and water molecules do not combine to form new molecules. and oxygen atoms. is a compound of carbon. Air is also a mixture. such as filtration.A Bit of This and That All matter can be classified into two categories: pure substances and mixtures. the tiny building blocks of matter. Iron is formed only of iron (Fe) atoms. web site. Like elements that are formed of atoms of the same sort.

including decantation (letting the sand in a mixture of water and sand settle. the part added to the beginning of a word. for example). and then draining off the water. and either use sunlight or low heat for evaporation.. What is the formula for ammonium chloride? Since it contains one nitrogen (N). on the other hand. If you made a tiny dot with the tip of a sharp pencil. and the chemical formulas for a compound with two sodium." Oxygen (O) becomes "oxide". There are 602. You can use a kitchen funnel and coffee filter for filtration. and evaporation. What would you call CO2? How many oxygen atoms are in carbon monoxide? What is the chemical formula for dicarbon dihydride? A mole is a measure of chemical substances. So a compound with two of the same molecule (represented by a subscript 2) would have "di" before that molecule name. what do you think happens when it is boiled? The water evaporates and eventually leaves nothing but citric acid crystals. K3FeCN6.. but filtration will not work for saltwater. A mole of any two elements will have a different mass. andelectrons. that little dot would have about four billion billion carbon atoms in it. though. Ca. Have you ever wondered what to call a chemical compound. hydrogen (H). They are so small you can't see them.023 x 1023) atoms or molecules in one mole. That's the element calcium. except with an electron microscope. is tacked on so that the correct chemical name is calcium hydroxide.9.The substances that make up a mixture can be separated by physical means because they have different physical properties (such as different melting points) and are not chemically bonded. To measure out one mole. the first part of the name for the last atom. you should weigh out 107. A mixture can be separated into its parts in a variety of ways. too. the chemical formula is NH4Cl. filtering. Can you think of other examples where a separating method will work for one mixture and not another? Another one to try is lemon juice. As with many rules. such as CaOH2? There are a few general rules that can help you. and three oxygen atoms and a compound with one iron and three chlorine atoms. Try out these methods on saltwater and a sand and water mixture to see how they work and compare the results. and if the pencil lead was allcarbon atoms. and one chlorine (Cl). though: 6. and four oxygen (O) for a total of six atoms.neutrons. If you look up gold (Au) on a periodic table. Here's one your kids should be able to figure out with just a periodic table: what is the chemical name for NaCl? Prefixes. Then. one calcium. one sulfur (S). The atomic mass of sodium (Na). Atoms are really small! .023 x 1023. Figure out the number of atoms for CaOH2.9 grams of gold. there are exceptions! In this case.0 and so one mole is 23 grams of sodium. di means two. The chemical formula for a molecule tells how many atoms and what types of atoms the molecule is made up of. How many atoms are in a molecule of AlSO4 (aluminum sulfate)? There is one aluminum (Al). you'll see it has an atomic mass of 107. can help you figure out names and formulas. Atoms are collections of tiny bits of electricity.300 million trillion (6. Mono means one. To familiarize your kids with the periodic table and the abbreviations for elements. Evaporation will work for both saltwater and sand and water solutions. take the next atom and replace the ending with "ide. a mixture of water and citric acid. Start with the name of the first atom. A Chemical By Any Other Name. FeCl2. Both gold and sodium have the same number of particles in one mole. but the same number of particles. is 23. make a game of answering questions like this. which we call protons. four hydrogen (H).

and electrons. Still out in space.5 billion years ago. Depending on how many protons and electrons an atom has. They were the smallest kind of molecule . and so is some of the dust in space. Even before there were any planets.helium. some hydrocarbons got together and formed bigger molecules called amino acids. more neutrons. But most things are not made out of just one kind of atom. Because protons have a positive electrical charge. lead. and some have fewer.000 years after the Big Bang. Hydrogen combined with carbon to make hydrocarbons (what living things are built out of). Earth. As time went on. The first molecules formed about 300. which has 79 protons. and lead. mercury. which has 82 protons. the more mass it has. Because most of the atoms in space were hydrogen atoms. neutrons. pulls them back together.Some atoms have more protons. so people use lead to make weights. the atom behaves differently. and the heavier it will be in Earth's gravity. the ones that were further away from stars. where they make up the rocks of the Earth's crust. and electrons an atom has. Molecules (MOLL-uh-cyools) are so small that nobody can see them. which formed about 4. the protons tend to push away from each other. different kinds of atoms get together to form larger clumps of atoms called molecules. . Pretty much everything on Earth and otherplanets is made of molecules. water and hydrocarbons were floating around in space on their own. thestrong nuclear force. A bunch of these atoms together make hydrogen gas. neutrons. and more electrons. More complicated atoms have more protons. except with an electron microscope. gold. Hydrogen and helium are very light. A lot of silicon and other minerals also got to Earth. except that another force. oxygen. is even heavier. When the planets did form. So hydrogen combined with oxygen to make water molecules. and since everything is made out of atoms. The simplest atoms have just one proton and one electron . Gold. and people use them to inflate balloons. The more protons. is very heavy. Instead. was closer to the Sun. and made mostly of heavier molecules like iron.that's a hydrogen atom. likeJupiter and Neptune.two hydrogen atoms joined together. It's this balance of forces that makes atoms possible. and supernovas from exploding stars shot out different kinds of atoms. copper. were made mostly of lighter molecules like water and hydrocarbons. like silicon orgold. many of these molecules combined hydrogen with another kind of atom. A bunch of them together make the other elements . and so on.iron. The heaviest atom that occurs naturally is uranium. different kinds of molecules formed and floated around in space. A molecule is a group of two or moreatoms that stick together. that's what makes everything possible. Other molecules were made of heavier atoms. or just under 15 billion years ago. This would make atoms fall apart.

like what plastic garbage bags or plastic Legos are made of. Each molecule of DNA has more than two billion carbon atoms in it (plus a lot of other kinds of atoms too). the amino acids got together to make more and more complicated molecules . then proteins. like in most rocks) Today people can make new kinds of molecules in laboratories and factories. and amino acids got to Earth. Some of the biggest molecules that people make are plastics. hydrocarbons.We're not sure how or when the water. Plastics are also hydro-carbon molecules. The two main ways that atoms hold together are y y covalent bonding (a stronger kind. like in carbon dioxide and water) ionic bonding (a weaker kind. All molecules need some way to hold their atoms together. .maybe first ribonucleic acids. But once they were on Earth. The biggest organic molecule today is DNA. People also make new molecules for medicines.