Earth's Climate is Changing!

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the earth's atmosphere enables some of the sun's energy to warm the earth and make it a comfortable place to live. For hundreds of thousands of years, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere stayed between 200 and 300 parts per million. Today, it's up to nearly 400 parts per million, and the amount is still rising.

This extra Carbon Dioxide, along with other greenhouse gases, is trapping more heat and causing the climate to change. One of the most important trends that scientists look at as they consider these changes is the average temperature of the Earth, which has been increasing for many years. This is called global warming. This warming in turn causes disruptions to all the global climate systems.

Why Is This Happening? It's US!

The world's scientists have concluded, with more and more certainty, that the rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the warming of the earth's surface are occurring primarily because we are burning fossil fuels.

What are the Impacts?

Scientists and economists predict that If warming exceeds 2 to 3oC (3.6 to 5.4oF) over the next century, there will be significant negative impacts, including:

  • higher temperatures
  • changing rain and snow patterns
  • more droughts
  • warmer oceans
  • rising sea levels
  • wilder weather
  • increased ocean acidity
  • shrinking sea ice
  • melting glaciers
  • less snow pack
  • thawing permafrost

    What Can We Do About This?

    Humans may be able to mitigate climate change or lessen its severity by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations through processes that move carbon out of the atmosphere or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include energy efficiency to reduce use of fossils fuels (petroleum, natural gas, and coal), switching from carbon intensive to renewable energy sources, and innovative research and a fundamental changes in the way humans use energy.

    Humans can adapt to climate change by reducing their vulnerability to its impacts. Actions such as moving to higher ground to avoid rising sea levels, planting new crops that will thrive under new climate conditions, or using new building technologies represent adaptation strategies. Adaptation often requires financial investment in new or enhanced research, technology, and infrastructure.

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