Global warming

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Global Warming

For over the past 200 years, the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, and deforestation have caused the concentrations of heat-trapping "greenhouse gases" to increasesignificantly in our atmosphere. These gases prevent heat from escaping to space, somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse.
Greenhouse gases are necessary to life as we know it, because they keepthe planet's surface warmer than it otherwise would be. Most of the warming in recent decades is very likely the result of human activities. Other aspects of the climate are also changing such asrainfall patterns, snow and ice cover, and sea level.
If greenhouse gases continue to increase, climate models predict that the average temperature at the Earth's surface could increase from 3.2 to 7.2ºFabove 1990 levels by the end of this century. Scientists are certain that human activities are changing the composition of the atmosphere, and that increasing the concentration of greenhouse gaseswill change the planet's climate.
Climate change affects people, plants, and animals. Scientists have observed that some changes are already occurring. Observed effects include sea level rise, shrinkingglaciers, changes in the range and distribution of plants and animals, trees blooming earlier, lengthening of growing seasons, ice on rivers and lakes freezing later and breaking up earlier, andthawing of permafrost. Another key issue being studied is how societies and the Earth's environment will adapt to or cope with climate change.


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