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Yes. The Earth is already showing many signs of worldwide climate change.

‡ Average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since
1880, much of this in recent decades, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

‡ The rate of warming is increasing. The 20th century's last two decades were the hottest in 400 years and
possibly the warmest for several millennia, according to a number of climate studies. And the United
Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that 11 of the past 12 years are among
the dozen warmest since 1850.

‡ The Arctic is feeling the effects the most. Average temperatures in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern
Russia have risen at twice the global average, according to the multinational Arctic Climate Impact
Assessment report compiled between 2000 and 2004.


   



    
 
 
  
 

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]y investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and increasing the efficiency of the cars we drive,
we can take essential steps toward reducing our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels that cause global
warming. There are lotof companies dedicated to building engines and inventions that could save us from
the effects of global warming.

Using energy more efficiently and moving to renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and bioenergy)
would significantly reduce our emissions of heat-trapping gases. The United States currently produces 70
percent of its electricity from fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil, but only two percent from
renewable sources.

]y creating new "free energy" sources like wind power or electric cars. We can slow down the effects of
global warming. What we really need is a new engine for cars that would take no gasoline whatsoever or any
other type of fuel that creates carbon dioxide. Many inventors in the past have created free energy machines,
many of those were lost with time.

-Another way to stop global warming is to plant more trees. We have cut down way too many trees in the
past, and we are still doing it. Much of the tropical rainforest has been cut down, rainforests create a lot of
oxygen for us to breathe. ]y cutting them down we lower our level of oxygen in the air.

-Many people are already planting more trees, but we need much more people getting into it around the
world. The best solution to global warming is to plant more trees (a lot more) and we need to replace our
current destructive technologies with more efficient technologies that don't pollute the air we breathe.

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The effects of Global Warming can already be seen


The IPCC's Third Assessment Report finds that in the last 40 years, the global average sea level has risen,
ocean heat content has increased, and snow cover and ice extent have decreased, which threatens to inundate
low-lying island nations and coastal regions throughout the world.

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Global warming is having a significant impact on hundreds of plant and animal species around the world --
although the most dramatic effects may not be felt for decades, according to a new study in the journal
Nature.

"]irds are laying eggs earlier than usual, plants are flowering earlier and mammals are breaking hibernation
sooner,"

"Clearly, if such ecological changes are now being detected when the globe has warmed by an estimated
average of only 1 degree F (0.6 C) over the past 100 years, then many more far-reaching effects on species
and ecosystems will probably occur by 2100, when temperatures could increase as much as 11 F (6 C)."


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Global warming will have serious impacts on the environment and on society. Higher temperatures will
cause a melting of ice in Greenland and Antarctica. This will accelerate the rise of sea level. The speed at
which global warming is expected to occur in the 21st century is faster than most plant and animal species
will be able to cope with. Some will adapt but others will suffer and may become extinct.

Global warming will affect agriculture. New crops will be able to be grown in areas that are currently too
cold to support them. However, more pests and diseases may offset any benefits higher temperatures may
have. Water resources will also be affected. Some reservoirs may dry up if temperature increases, especially
if rainfall also decreases. Rising sea levels may pollute fresh groundwater supplies with salt water.

Global warming will also affect human health. There may be more heat-related illnesses in hotter summers,
and increased breathing problems as higher temperatures increase air pollution in cities, reducing air quality.
The malaria mosquito may also be able to spread to other regions of the world where it is currently too cold
to survive and breed.

More extreme weather, for example storms, floods and droughts will have severe impacts on the
environment and on society. The poorest people in society will unfortunately be those least able to cope with
the impacts of global warming.


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refers to an increase in the Earth¶s average surface air temperature. Global warming and
cooling in themselves are not necessarily bad, since the Earth has gone through cycles of temperature
change many times in its 4.5 billion years. However, as used today, global warming usually means a fast,
unnatural increase that is enough to cause the expected climate conditions to change rapidly and often
cataclysmically.

Our planet is warmed by radiant energy from the sun that reaches the surface through the atmosphere. As the
surface warms, heat energy reÀects back toward space; meanwhile, gases in the atmosphere absorb some of
this energy and reradiate it near the surface. This is often called the greenhouse effect, named for the way
heat increases inside a glass enclosure. In the greenhouse effect around Earth, the atmosphere can be
visualized as a blanket that is made thicker by the action of a small amount of water vapor, carbon dioxide,
methane, ozone, nitrous oxide, other gases, and soot; it thus holds in more heat, forcing air temperature
higher. The scienti¿c term for this action is, in fact, ³forcing.´

On an average day, this effect is caused by water vapor and clouds (75 percent) and carbon dioxide (20
percent), with the rest fthe heating caused by other gases. Relatively small additions of carbon dioxide and
methane force more heat, and that heat allows the air to hold more water vapor, creating a feedback loop that
magni¿es the effect. Although water vapor is naturally prevalent in the atmosphere, it does not trap as much
heat per molecule as carbon dioxide and methane. Also, water vapor molecules cycle through the
atmosphere in only a few days, a brief period compared to the residence time of CO2,which persists for
many decades and creates some warming even after as long as three hundred years. Dust and aerosol
chemicals in the air cause some cooling (negative forcing); they are also very short lived. Even though the
gases are measured only in parts per million (ppm) or billion (ppb), they have been powerfully, and naturally,
inÀuencing the Earth¶s temperature for millions of years. Without them, instead of an average air
temperature of about 58°F (14.5°C), the Earth would be below the freezing point. Life as we know it now
would be impossible.

Earth¶s temperature is also subject to natural forcing cycles from solar radiation and the movement of the
planet around the sun. Scientists think these cycles, which have left a visible signature extending back
millions of years, arewhat led to past iceages and the warming that ended them. Currently, we are in a period
between major iceages. The last great glaciation, when temperatures were about 10°to 12°F (6°to7°C) cooler
than today, began fading away about 18,000 yearsago. The initial transition out of the ice age was
unstable,with many rapid temperature shifts. As temperatures warmed, climate was affected.


 is the accumulation of weather effects²wind,
rainfall, heat, cold²experienced in a place over many
years, an average of thousands of days¶ worth of weather.
Climate is what one expects in a certain place; weather is
what occurs day by day. One result of global temperature
increase or decrease is climate change, referring to a shift
in not only average local temperature but also rain- and
snowfall, cloudiness and storms, the seasons, and river
Àow, with associated impacts on the biosphere, the
portion of the Earth and its atmosphere that supports life.
Although in our daily lives we are attuned to day-by-day
swings of temperature and weather, the long-term
changes of climate and average Earth temperature are
more dif¿cult to apprehend.

During most of the more recent past (say, 10-11,000


years), the concentration of greenhouse gases remained
relatively stable, and so did the Earth¶s temperature and
climate. This was the time when humans developed civilizations and learned how to build cities, grow food,
and invent machines. It is possible that early farming and forest clearing had a warming effect on the Earth
beginning ¿ve thousand to eight thousand years ago. There are also a few examples of natural temperature
shifts, such as the Medieval Warm Period, which was followed by the Little Ice Age in the ¿fteenth through
eighteenth centuries. These were possibly not global in extent, and there is scienti¿c disagreement over their
causes which seem to have included periods of solar radiation increase and decrease and volcanic eruptions.

During the Industrial Revolution, people began to use coal and, later, petroleum, to heat cities and run
machines. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a by-product of burning both coal and oil, began to increase.
Since then, levels of carbon dioxide have risen by almost 35 percent, methane concentrations (coming from
rice¿elds, cattle, land¿lls, and leaks of natural gas) have more than doubled, and nitrous oxide
concentrations (another by-product of oil) have gone up by about 15 percent. Some chemicals invented by
humans, like chloroÀuorocarbons, are also greenhouse gases. Increased greenhouse gases mean more heat is
kept in the atmosphere, which led beginning in the late 1800s to arise in both ocean and air temperature.
]etween then and 1945, world temperature rose but then leveled off and even decreased a little through the
1960s. The best explanation for that dip appears to be the rise in industrial air pollution during and after the
war years, including dust and sulfur, which, as aerosols, cool the atmosphere. ]eginning in the 60s, laws
mandated the reduction of aerosol pollution. The sun¶s luminosity varied a little through these years, but this
appears to have had only minor inÀuence.

The recent increase in atmospheric CO2


is 200 times as great as any previous change known and the current level is 385 parts per million, the highest
seen in 800,000 years of deep glacier ice core records. It shows no signs of decreasing. Since the 1970s
atmospheric heat has been rapidly increasing. Whereas the average temperature of the planet rose about 1°F
(0.6°C) between the mid-nineteenth century and the end of the twentieth, in the past twenty-¿ve years alone
the temperature has risen just over 0.8°F (0.5°C). (The last ice age would have ended in only four hundred
years²instead of many thousands²at this rate of heating.) The total heating from the late nineteenth
century to 2005 is 1.4°F (0.8°C). The ocean has actually absorbed most of the added CO2 and heat --
becoming warmer and very slightly more acidic. The only explanation that comports with data and
observations of sun, atmosphere and ocean is the steep rise in greenhouse gases. This rise has been shown to
be the result not of natural changes but of human activities ( "antropogenic"), primarily the burning of fossil
fuels but also farming and forest clearing. Extensive urbanization, air pollution, forrest fires and increased
pumping of water have caused regional change as well. Furthermore, scientists know the added carbon
dioxide comes from our actions because this CO2 has an unmistakable chemical signature.
This research has created what has become the single most powerful icon of climate change, the so-called
"hockey-stick" graph of temperatures. In 2005-6 it was subjected to intense re-analysis. Evidence of
previous cool and warm periods has increased, but the rapid and sustained heat gain especially since the
1970s remains unparalleled in recent earth history. All this evidence, plus the vast range of changes to plants,
animals, storms and glaciers which correlate strongly to the measured temperature rise, caused world climate
scientists to declare in 2007 that "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," and that there is more
than a 90 percent assurance that "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the
mid-20th century is ... due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations." (see
below)

These increases have a giant effect on weather, climate zones, plants and animals, sea life, glaciers and river
flow. In response, our planet has been changing with warming winds and rising seas. The 10 warmest years
on record have all occurred since 1997, according to meteorologists. 2005 and 1998 were the warmest. At
the poles and in mountains, ice is melting and glaciers are receding. Arctic sea ice reach the smallest
summer extent ever recorded in the past few years. Even in Antarctica, where winter sea ice has been larger
in extent recently, it melts back much more than before in the summers, affecting the food supply of whales
and penguins. The planet has heavier downpours now but also deeper droughts. Down into the temperate
zone, change is rearranging the boundaries of life. The plants and animals with whom we share the planet
are adapting and moving -- some even going extinct -- because they have no choice.

We six billion humans are being affected, too. Coastal towns are suffering from rising sea level, storms are
getting more intense and 35,000 people died in European heat waves in 2003. However, we have choices to
make to help correct and ameliorate global warming. This is a story of frightening scale and and great
urgency that is just beginning to be told.

For more on past climate and today's weather, see the Paleoclimate and Weather sections.

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The world's climate scientists reported unequivocally in 2007 that the Earth's climate system is increasingly
heating up and that it likely has not been this warm for at least 1300 years. The fourth report of the UN's
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that evidence for this includes more than increases
in global average air and ocean temperatures.

As has been reported on this site, heating effects are strong in melting of snow and ice, rising global mean
sea level, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme
weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones. With
much stronger language and more assurance than in previous reports, the IPCC members said there was less
than 10 percent chance that this global warming was natural -- they pinned it directly on human greenhouse
gas emissions. The amount of CO2 spewed out per year from fossil fuel burning is 12 percent greater now
than in the 1990s, their report indicated, and the amount of the greenhouse effect is the greatest in 10,000
years.

The forecast range of possible temperatures by the end of the century reaches higher in this report than did
the previous one in 2001 --11.5 degrees F -- but the more probable range is between 3.2 and 7 degrees F.
The rate of rise depends on if and how fast emissions are reduced and on possible adverse feedbacks in the
climate system. All probable temperatures are far beyond the increase in the 20th C and will take modern
civilization into uncharted territory. Temperatures are sure to rise faster in the next decades, the IPCC said,
than they did during the same time span in the last half of the 20th century.

Even now, the scientists reported, the last time the Arctic was significantly warmer was about 125,000 years
ago, before the last ice age. At that time, sea level rose 4 to 6 meters as polar ice melted. For this coming
century the IPCC is forecasting sea level to rise from 7 inches to about half a meter, depending on emissions
and warming. The scientists expressed uncertainty about rapid melting of the Greenland ice cap, citing a
lack of enough research so far; this is sure to be one of the more controversial parts of the report since some
glaciologists think Greenland and possibly Western Antarctica glacier melt will add considerably more to
sea level.

Scientists said "it is very likely that hot extremes, heat waves, and heavy precipitation events will continue
to become more frequent," that it was very certain that the ocean would become more acid from taking up
more CO2 and that the great currents in the North Atlantic were likely to slow but not stop.

If CO2 emissions can be reduced far enough, the report estimated, the atmosphere could be stabilized at a
much lower level of greenhouse effect than is forecast now. Still, the effects of global warming will be with
us for many centuries, the IPCC said, because of the inertia of the atmosphere and oceans and the 100 + year
persistence of greenhouse gases.

Global Warming


is the increase in the average temperature of Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the
mid-20th century and its projected continuation