clear the air

Global Warming in Layman’s Terms

Global Warming

The average surface temperature has warmed one degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) during the last century, according to the National Research Council.

The temperatures were relatively unchanged from 1880 to 1910, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

They rose till about 1945, cooled until about 1975 and have risen steadily to present day.There are several possible reasons for the warming, scientists say.

A change in the Earth’s orbit or the intensity of the sun’s radiation could change, triggering warming or cooling.

The reason most cited for the current warming trend is an increase in the concentrations of greenhouse gases, which are in the atmosphere naturally and help keep the planet’s temperature at a comfortable level.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, for instance, has increased by 35 percent since the dawn of the industrial age, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, commonly referred to as the IPCC.

The presence of methane is now 151 percent above pre-industrial levels, but the rate of increase has slowed in recent decades, according to the EPA.

Meanwhile, nitrous oxide increased by about 18 percent during the past 200 years.

Many scientists and experts who have studied global warming believe the increase is primarily the result of human activities, like the burning of fossil fuels, emissions from vehicles and the clearing of forests.

Quite simply, for the last 30 years, there’s no way there’s anything natural that can explain it.

There are, however, skeptics who are less convinced of the role of human’s in climate change, arguing that the current warming trend is the result of natural variability, where a planet goes through phases of warming and cooling (as is the case of any fluid-covered planet) and thus the human contribution to it is minimal.

The greatest point of contention is the possible implications for future political and economic policies for the world’s nations.

The lower end of the range could cause more intense hurricanes, droughts, wildfires and flooding, Schneider said. The higher end could lead to the catastrophes commonly associated with the visions of Hollywood filmmakers.

Therefore, whilst scientists cannot agree exactly how much the planet is going to warm up, most are convinced with major certainty that it is indeed going to get warmer.

Simon Turner


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