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The greenhouse effect happens when certain gasesknown asgreenhouse gasescollect in

Earths atmosphere. These gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous
oxide (N2O),fluorinated gases, and ozone.
Greenhouse gases let the suns light shine onto the Earths surface, but they trap the heat that
reflects back up into the atmosphere. In this way, they act like the glass walls of agreenhouse. This
greenhouse effect keeps the Earth warm enough to sustain life. Scientists say that without the
greenhouse effect, the average temperature of the Earth would drop from 14C (57F) to as low as
18C (0.4F).
Some greenhouse gases come from natural sources. Evaporationadds water vapor to the
atmosphere. Animals and plants release carbon dioxide when they respire, or breathe. Methane is
released naturally from some low-oxygen environments, such as swamps. Nitrous oxide is produced
by certain processes in soil and water.Volcanoesboth on land and under the oceanrelease
greenhouse gases, so periods of high volcanic activity tend to be warmer.
Since the Industrial Revolution of the late 1700s and early 1800s, people have been releasing large
quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. That amount has skyrocketed in the past
century. Greenhouse gas emissions increased 70 percent between 1970 and 2004. Emissions of
CO2, the most important greenhouse gas, rose by about 80 percent during that time. The amount of
CO2 in the atmosphere today far exceeds the natural range seen over the last 650,000 years.
Most of the CO2 that people put into the atmosphere comes from burning fossil fuels. Cars, trucks,
trains, and planes all burn fossil fuels. Many electric power plants do, as well. Another way humans
release CO2 into the atmosphere is by cutting down forests, because trees contain large amounts of
People add methane to the atmosphere through livestock farming, landfills, and fossil fuel production
such as coal mining and natural gas processing. Nitrous oxide comes from agriculture and fossil fuel
burning. Fluorinated gases include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs),
andhydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These gases are used in aerosol cans and refrigeration.
All of these human activities add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. As the level of these gases
rises, so does thetemperature of the Earth. The rise in Earths average temperature contributed to by
human activity is known as global warming.

The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change

Even slight increases in average global temperatures can have huge effects. Perhaps the biggest,
most obvious effect is thatglaciers and ice caps melt faster than usual. The meltwater drains into the
oceans, causing sea levels to rise.

Glaciers and ice caps cover about 10 percent of the worlds landmasses. They hold about 75 percent
of the worlds freshwater. If all of this ice melted, sea levels would rise by about 70 meters (230 feet).
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that the global sea level rose about 1.8
millimeters per year from 1961 to 1993, and 3.1 millimeters per year since 1993.
Rising sea levels could flood coastal cities, displacing millions of people in low-lying areas such as
Bangladesh, the U.S. state of Florida, and the Netherlands. Millions more people in countries like
Bolivia, Peru, and India depend on glacial meltwater for drinking,irrigation, and hydroelectric power.
Rapid loss of these glaciers would devastate those countries.
Greenhouse gas emissions affect more than just temperature. Another effect involves changes
in precipitation, such as rain andsnow. Over the course of the 20th century, precipitation increased in
eastern parts of North and South America, northern Europe, and northern and central Asia.
However, it has decreased in parts of Africa, the Mediterranean, and southern Asia.
As climates change, so do the habitats for living things. Animals that are adapted to a
certain climate may become threatened. Many human societies depend on specific crops for food,
clothing, and trade. If the climate of an area changes, the people who live there may no longer be
able to grow the crops they depend on for survival. Some scientists also worry that tropical diseases
will expand their ranges into more temperate regions if the temperatures of those areas increase.
Most climate scientists agree that we must reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into
the atmosphere. There are lots of ways to do this, including:

Drive less. Use public transportation, carpool, walk, or ride a bike.

Fly less. Airplanes produce huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Plant a tree. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, keeping it out of the atmosphere.

Use less electricity.

Eat less meat. Cows are one of the biggest methane producers.

Support alternative energy sources that dont burn fossil fuels.

The following is a list of 10 steps YOU can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Buying products with minimal packaging will help to reduce waste. By recycling half of your
household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

2. Use Less Heat and Air Conditioning

Adding insulation to your walls and installing weather stripping or caulking around doors and
windows can lower your heating costs more than 25 percent, by reducing the amount of energy
you need to heat and cool your home. Turn down the heat while youre sleeping at night or
away during the day, and keep temperatures moderate at all times. Install a programmable
thermostat because setting it just 2 degrees lower in winter and higher in summer could save
about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
3. Replace Your Light Bulbs
Wherever practical, replace regular light bulbs with compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs.
Replacing just one 60-watt incandescent light bulb with a CFL will save you $30 over the life of
the bulb. CFLs also last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, use two-thirds less energy,
and give off 70 percent less heat. If every Canadian family replaced one regular light bulb with
a CFL, it would eliminate 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gases, the same as taking 7.5 million
cars off the road.
4. Drive Less and Drive Smart
Less driving means fewer emissions. Besides saving gasoline, walking and biking are great forms
of exercise. Explore the York Region Transit system and check out options for carpooling to
work or school.
When you do drive, make sure your car is running efficiently. For example, keeping your tires
properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent. Every gallon of gas you
save not only helps your budget, it also keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the
5. Buy Energy-Efficient Products
Home appliances now come in a range of energy-efficient models, and compact florescent
bulbs are designed to provide more natural-looking light while using far less energy than
standard light bulbs.
6. Use Less Hot Water
Set your water heater at 120 degrees to save energy, and wrap it in an insulating blanket if it is
more than 15 years old. Buy low-flow showerheads to save hot water and about 350 pounds of
carbon dioxide yearly. Wash your clothes in warm or cold water to reduce your use of hot water
and the energy required to produce it. That change alone can save at least 500 pounds of
carbon dioxide annually in most households.
7. Use the "Off" Switch
Save electricity and reduce global warming by turning off lights when you leave a room, and
using only as much light as you need. And remember to turn off your television, stereo and
computer when you're not using them. Its also a good idea to turn off the water when youre
not using it. While brushing your teeth, shampooing the dog or washing your car, turn off the
water until you actually need it for rinsing.

8. Plant a Tree
If you have the means to plant a tree, start digging. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and give off
oxygen. A single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.
9. Get a Report Card from Your Utility Company
Many utility companies provide free home energy audits to help consumers identify areas in
their homes that may not be energy efficient. In addition, many utility companies offer rebate
programs to help pay for the cost of energy-efficient upgrades.
10. Encourage Others to Conserve
Share information about recycling and energy conservation with your friends, neighbors and coworkers, and take opportunities to encourage public officials to establish programs and policies
that are good for the environment.

2. What role can governments play in addressing climate change?

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A. Governments can enact laws and tax policies that encourage energy conservation; the development and use of
more energy-efficient cars, buildings, and appliances; and the development and use of renewable energy such as
solar and wind power and bio-fuels. Governments can also increase investments in public transportation and
encourage development patterns that minimize sprawl. Today, the policies of most countries favor the most intensive
forms of transportation (such as auto and air travel), and are biased toward conventional energy over renewables,
and toward new energy supplies over efficiency measures. But, driven greatly by concerns about energy security and
climate change, several countries have begun to promote the sustainable use of energy through green taxes, which
shift the tax burden from labor to energy, and by enacting strong policies to advance the development and use of
renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies.