background preloader

Global Warming Facts, Causes and Effects of Climate Change

Global Warming Facts, Causes and Effects of Climate Change
Q: What causes global warming? A: Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the earth’s surface. Normally, this radiation would escape into space—but these pollutants, which can last for years to centuries in the atmosphere, trap the heat and cause the planet to get hotter. In the United States, the burning of fossil fuels to make electricity is the largest source of heat-trapping pollution, producing about two billion tons of CO2 every year. Curbing dangerous climate change requires very deep cuts in emissions, as well as the use of alternatives to fossil fuels worldwide. Q: Is the earth really getting hotter? A: Yes. Climate change deniers have argued that there has been a “pause” or a “slowdown” in rising global temperatures, but several recent studies, including a 2015 paper published in the journal Science, have disproved this claim. Q: Why should I care? A: No. Related:  Global Warming

Impacts of Global Warming on the Environment Findings from the 2007 IPCC report The 2007 IPCC report examined data on numerous changes to natural systems that have already been observed, as well as the potential for future impacts. A climate that's already changing Current environmental impacts and prospects for the future Changes in weather Heat and heat waves Rain, snow, and drought Stormy weatherChanges in ecosystems Polar and mountainous regions Plant life Wildlife Related FAQ What is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? A climate that's already changing Climate is always changing, but the changes we've observed in the last several decades are best explained as a combination of natural and human-made causes. The first IPCC report, issued in 1991, discussed changes we could expect decades in the future. Some of the trends now under way—such as warmer nights during heat waves and heavier bursts of rain and snow—are expected to continue. View an interactive map of potential impacts of climate change. back to top

The Effects of Global Warming Global warming is expected to have far-reaching, long-lasting and, in many cases, devastating consequences for planet Earth. For some years, global warming, the gradual heating of Earth's surface, oceans and atmosphere, was a topic of heated debate in the scientific community. Today, the overwhelming consensus of researchers is that global warming is real and is caused by human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels that pump carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A major report released Sept. 27, 2013, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that scientists are more certain than ever of the link between human activities and global warming. More than 197 international scientific organizations agree that global warming is real and has been caused by human action. Additionally, global warming is having a measurable effect on the planet right now, in a variety of ways. Here is an in-depth look at these changes and more.

Effects Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner. Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring: loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves. Taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time. Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. Future effects Temperatures will continue to rise

Impacts of global warming and climate change What does a 0.76°C temperature rise mean? More hot days More severe storms, floods, droughts and fire Higher sea levels This small temperature rise could threaten human health, lives, industries and jobs. Global warming threatens agricultural production, fresh water supplies and the survival of native species and ecosystems. This small temperature rise also means we can expect: More hurricanes and cyclones in the Caribbean, the United States and Burma More extensive droughts in eastern Africa, Australia, southern Europe and parts of China and India More devastating floods like those in Pakistan (in 2010), Brazil and Australia (in 2011), and other parts of the world The impacts of a warming world are concerning enough when considered one by one, but the view worsens when you consider them collectively. Climate change is the world’s greatest threat. Global warming has emerged as the single greatest threat to Australia’s biodiversity.

Climate change impacts | Environmental Defense Fund Because there are so many impacts of climate change, scientists have broadly categorized them into three areas: Erratic climate and weather extremesAltered ecosystems and habitatsRisks to human health and society 1.The primary impact: Earth's water systems thrown off balance Photo credit: NOAA Hurricane Katrina, a massive Category 5 storm, caused widespread destruction in 2005. Emissions of heat-trapping gases from human activity—especially the burning of fossil fuels for energy—cause our atmosphere to heat up. This atmospheric heating unleashes a torrent of rapid changes to the way water systems typically function on our planet. For example: The cryosphere—the frozen water on Earth—is melting. 2. Photo credit: Digital Vision Many Arctic animals, including seals, depend on seasonal ice to breed and raise young. As climatic patterns rapidly shift, habitats on land and in the sea are changing, making them inhospitable for some species, while letting others move in and take over. 3.

Climate Change and Global Warming Author and Page information by Anup ShahThis Page Last Updated Monday, February 02, 2015 Global warming and climate change is looked at in this section of the global issues web site. 32 articles on “Climate Change and Global Warming” and 1 related issue: Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction Last updated Sunday, February 01, 2015. The climate is changing. Many are agreed that climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing the planet. This section looks at what causes climate change, what the impacts are and where scientific consensus currently is. Read “Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction” to learn more. UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Last updated Saturday, December 25, 2004. The world mostly agrees that something needs to be done about global warming and climate change. Read “UN Framework Convention on Climate Change” to learn more. Reactions to Climate Change Negotiations and Action Last updated Monday, March 05, 2012. Posted Monday, February 02, 2015.

Global Warming Impacts To fully appreciate the urgency of climate change, it's important to understand the ways it affects society and the natural environment. Sea levels are rising and glaciers are shrinking; record high temperatures and severe rainstorms and droughts are becoming increasingly common. Changes in temperatures and rainfall patterns alter plant and animal behavior and have significant implications for humans. In this section, explore the connections between the climate data and the changes happening around you—and those you can expect to see in the future—in all parts of the globe, including your own backyard. Not only are global warming-induced changes currently underway, but scientists also expect additional effects on human society and natural environments around the world. Some further warming is already unavoidable due to past heat-trapping emissions; unless we aggressively reduce today's emissions, scientists project extra warming and thus additional impacts. References Arndt, D.S., M.O.

Positives and negatives of global warming Here’s a list of cause and effect relationships, showing that most climate change impacts will confer few or no benefits, but may do great harm at considerable cost. Agriculture While CO2 is essential for plant growth, all agriculture depends also on steady water supplies, and climate change is likely to disrupt those supplies through floods and droughts. Health Warmer winters would mean fewer deaths, particularly among vulnerable groups like the aged. Polar Melting While the opening of a year-round ice free Arctic passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would confer some commercial benefits, these are considerably outweighed by the negatives. Ocean Acidification A cause for considerable concern, there appear to be no benefits to the change in pH of the oceans. Melting Glaciers Sea Level Rise Many parts of the world are low-lying and will be severely affected by modest sea rises. Environmental Economic Basic rebuttal written by GPWayne Update July 2015: