Global Warming

Increase in the average temperature of global surface air and oceans since about 1950, and to continuing increases in those temperatures. Another term for "global warming" is "climate change."


Global warming is expected to cause, and may already have caused, more severe droughts in many regions. The ongoing drought in the western U.S., possibly the worst in 500 years, may be caused by unusually warm waters in the western Pacific and other effects of global warming. Parched conditions and high temperatures associated with drought create ideal conditions for wildfires to spread. Global warming also lengthens the fire season and promotes outbreaks of tree-killing insects, which create a large amount of dry fuel to stoke forest fires. The amount of forest burned annually has been increasing over recent decades in some regions, such as the Arctic. Alaska experienced its worst fire year ever in 2004, a year with the warmest and third driest summer on record.


The incidence of large-scale coral “bleaching” events has increased around the world since 1979, and most evidence indicates that these mass bleaching, which can lead to coral death, are caused by global warming. An increase in water temperature causes coral bleaching, and the average surface ocean temperature in many tropical regions rose by almost one degree C (1.8°F) over the last century. In 1997–98, the largest bleaching event on record damaged 16% of the reefs in the world and killed 1,000-year-old corals.


The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) generated by human activities is much smaller than natural sources; therefore, human activities cannot be responsible for the large observed increase in atmospheric CO2 over the past few centuries.


It is undisputed that humans are entirely responsible for the increase in atmospheric CO2over the past few centuries. In pre-industrial times, large natural sources of CO2 were balanced by equally large natural removal processes, such as photosynthesis in plants, maintaining a stable level of CO2 in the atmosphere for thousands of years. Human-produced emissions, though smaller than natural emissions, upset this balance. Because human-produced emissions aren’t completely absorbed by natural processes, they accumulate in the atmosphere, increasing the concentration of CO2.

The warming of the past century has been caused by natural actors, such as solar variability, a recovery from the Little Ice Age, cosmic rays, etc.; the warming was not caused by the increase in greenhouse gases (GHGs). This is shown by the fact that the warming has not followed the trend of GHG concentrations.


While natural factors have been important causes of climatic changes in the past, human-produced GHGs have become increasingly dominant over the last century. Scientists know with certainty that GHGs have an important effect on climate. GHG molecules absorb infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface and re-emit it downward, acting as a blanket that traps heat at the surface and warms the planet. Without the naturally occurring “greenhouse effect,” the average temperature of the Earth would be about 35°C (63°F) colder than at present, or an inhospitable –20°C (–4°F). The problem is that humans are increasing the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere.

Scientists have conducted studies to calculate how much of the warming over the past century was caused by GHGs as opposed to natural factors. When human influences (including the effects of GHGs and cooling sulfate particles5) and natural factors (including solar variations, volcanic eruptions and random variability) are both taken into account in climate models, the simulated temperature changes over the past 140 years agree closely with observed changes . If, however, human influences are omitted from the models, the simulated temperature changes do not match the observed changes. These results provide strong evidence that human influences have contributed to the observed warming. In fact, it is likely that human produced GHGs have been the dominant cause of the observed global warming over the past few decades. Natural factors are unlikely to explain the increased rate of warming since the middle of the 20th century, as the overall trend in natural forcing (warming effect) was likely small or even negative over the last two to four decades, according to measurements.



If every American household replaced just 5 high-use incandescent bulbs with compact florescent lights we'd collectively save more than $8 billion each year in energy costs and we would prevent the greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from nearly 10 million cars.

Blowing Up Your World

How many of you leave your bedroom light on when you are not in the room?

Turning off lights saves energy and money. The more energy used, the more rivers are dammed or more fossil fuel is burned, causing air pollution and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

How many of you walked, bicycled or took public transportation to get to school today, instead of coming by private automobile?

Our reliance on cars that burn fossil fuels is one of the major causes of increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and it is the primary cause of urban smog

How many of you, when you drink a soft drink, throw the container into the garbage?

Throwing away containers of any kind wastes energy and resources and adds to our waste problem. Many towns are running out of landfill space.

How many of you eat fresh vegetables instead of canned or frozen?

Fresh vegetables cook more quickly and are usually more nutritious than frozen or canned foods. Canned and frozen vegetables are often over-processed, contain additives, contribute to air pollution (transport and packaging) and add to our waste problem.

How many of you use a hairdryer or other energy-consuming convenience appliance, especially in the morning?

Hairdryers use a lot of energy. In the morning so much energy demand is put on our grids that power companies have to find other sources of energy just to meet the morning rush hour

How many of you, when you go to a store, get a bag for your purchases, even if you have only one or two small items to carry?

Making paper and plastic bags uses energy and resources. The bags add to our litter and waste problems, and plastic is not biodegradable. Recycling is not the best answer because collecting and recycling materials requires energy. Instead, carry a reusable cloth bag or a knapsack with you

How many of you eat take-out or cafeteria food that is served in foam or plastic containers?

Polystyrene and other plastic containers are made from precious petrochemicals, do not decompose in landfills, and release toxic gases when they are burned in incinerators.

How many of you use handkerchiefs instead of tissues and use cloth towels instead of paper towels?

Paper comes from trees. The more of it we use, the more trees that are cut down

How many of you carry your lunch to school in a lunch box or reusable container?

Making paper and plastic bags uses energy and resources.

How many are changing incandescent bulbs for new compact fluorescent bulbs?

Changing one bulb could save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide per year!

You may never know what results come of your action, But if you do nothing, there will be no result


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