Global Temperatures

The Greenhouse Effect

Idiots Guide The Greenhouse Effect

Scientists say that the Earth's temperatures are largely determined by the balance between the amount of sun energy entering the atmosphere and the amount of energy lost from the Earth into space. One of the most important climate mechanisms affecting this balance is a natural greenhouse effect a band of gases that trap the heat emanating from the planet's surface similar to the way a glass greenhouse warms the air inside its glass walls during a cold winter. These gases include water vapor,...

Wildfires and Global Warming

In recent years, Southern California has experienced a series of wildfires that have caused significant property damage for homeowners. Whether these fires are connected to global warming has been a hotly debated topic. Experts say the answer to this question depends, in turn, on whether the ongoing drought in the U.S. Southwest is related to climate change. Some researchers say the drought could, indeed, be related to expected results of warming temperatures, such as early snowmelt, the...

Cut Emission or Face Catastrophic Results

The most recent international moves towards combating global warming represent a recognition . . . that if the emission of greenhouse gases . . . is allowed to continue unchecked, the effects will be catastrophic on the level of nuclear war. International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based public policy and education organization that focuses on political and military issues. Quoted in Jeremy Lovell, Global Warming Impact Like 'Nuclear War,' Reuters, September 12, 2007. Notably,...

The Role for Renewable Energy

Middletown Geysers

The ideal solution to global warming would be a technological one that allows the world to switch quickly from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, and geo-thermal, which emit zero or low levels of carbon dioxide. Each of these sources, however, has its limitations. According to many experts, wind power is the most promising source of clean energy. Turbines capture the energy of the wind using propeller-like blades positioned on 100-foot-high towers, and the...

Human Food and Water Shortages

Water Shortages Avocado Production

For humans, climate change may not only diminish seafood from the oceans it also may mean declining water supplies and decreased agricultural productivity. Although some regions may experience floods and rising seas, other parts of the world will In drought-ravaged Moyale, Ethiopia, cattle are led to one of the few remaining watering holes in the region. This lack of water, along with other climate changes, can cause a decline in food production, affecting the lives of millions of people....

The Plight of the Polar Bear

Temperture Range For Polar Bears

Wildlife experts say one of the first results of global warming is that polar bears may go extinct. Polar bears spend much of their lives on and around floating ice sheets in the Arctic region, where they hunt for seals and raise their young. Many of these ice sheets, however, have been rapidly melting due to global warming, sometimes leaving bears stranded on open sea waters. In fact, scientists have already documented multiple polar bear drown-ings. Following a fierce winter storm in...

Resource Wars

Perhaps the worst possible impact of global warming, however, would be military conflicts that could break out as nations compete for dwindling water, food, energy, and other resources. Many military experts, in fact, see the climate crisis as a threat multiplier that will intensify global political instability by creating pressures such as water shortages, food insecurity, disease, and flooding on some of the world's most fragile governments. According to a U.S. Department of Defense report in...

The Future for Kyotos International Cap and Trade system

So far, the Kyoto Protocol an international agreement negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 and ratified by 172 countries is the main global response to climate change. The treaty sought to limit the greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized countries by 5.2 percent by the year 2012. Under Kyoto, each country was assigned a mandatory goal for emission cuts, with some countries facing much higher goals than others. Countries could take direct actions to cut their own emissions, or...

Sustainable Living

Tropical Aquarium Djibouti

For all countries, the key to adapting to climate change may be implementing sustainable development a term defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 48 Long before today's concerns about global warming, advocates for sustainable development argued that human activities were exploiting environmental treasures and ecosystems at an unsustainable...

Global Dimming

Yet another group of scientists warn that a different cloud phenomenon global dimming may be masking the true amount of global warming that will occur in the future. First studied during the 1990s by Gerry Stanhill, a British scientist, global dimming refers to an increase in air pollution that has been causing a decrease in the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth during recent decades. According to Stanhill and other scientists, tiny particles of soot, ash, and other air pollutants most of...

Threat Bigger than Terrorism

Current preoccupation is with terrorism, but in the long term climate change will outweigh terrorism as an issue for the international community. . . . Climate change is going to make some very fundamental changes to human existence on the planet. David Anderson, a former Canadian environment minister. Quoted in CNN.com, Official Global Warming Bigger Threat than Terrorism, February 6, 2004. reut index.html. Since tropical weather is expected to expand as temperatures rise, another health...

Energy from the Oceans

The world's oceans may provide another viable source of renewable energy. Researchers have long been studying how to exploit the energy from ocean waves, tides, and ocean-based winds, which tend to be stronger than winds on land. Some experts predict that these ocean resources may eventually overtake solar energy as the most economical clean energy source. Ocean wind power is the most developed of these ocean energy technologies, and some countries are already investing in offshore wind...

The Need for Immediate Action

Reducing emissions is difficult because the world is very addicted to fossil fuels. Oil, natural gas, and coal provide the energy that heats (and cools) our homes and powers our cars and airplanes. Fossil fuels also provide the electricity essential to maintaining our modern lifestyles, which are dependent on computers, telephones, televisions, and numerous other machines and appliances. The world economy, too, requires cheap fossil fuels to manufacture a multitude of products, to grow food,...

Economic Concerns

One of the biggest unknowns about global warming, in fact, is what effect it will have on the world economy. Mitigating greenhouse emissions, many people fear, will add to the normal costs of doing business and slow the economies of many nations around the world. In addition, countries that are hit with the results of rising temperatures such as agricultural declines, food and water shortages, rising rates of disease, or disasters caused by floods, fires, or droughts will face other significant...

Signs of Global Warming

Rising global temperatures have already had a major impact on the environment and ecosystems in many regions of the world. The 2007 IPCC report, for example, found that numerous environmental changes can be clearly linked to climate change. Arctic glaciers are rapidly melting, creating more and larger glacial lakes and increased earlier spring runoff into snow-fed rivers. Mountainous regions are experiencing more rock avalanches. And warmer temperatures are causing previously frozen soil,...

Energy Efficiency

Jailbait Refrigerator

Improving energy efficiency could also help to reduce greenhouse emissions. In fact, according to the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, The cheapest and fastest way to cut global warming pollution is to make things that use electricity like appliances, industrial equipment and buildings more energy-efficient. 37 Major home appliances such as refrigerators, clothes washers, and dishwashers account for a large portion of people's monthly utility bills, and replacing them with...

Decline in Winter Sports

For many locations on the planet, global warming may mark the end of winter sports, tourism, and recreation. Glaciers are already disappearing throughout the Alps, and resorts throughout Europe and the United States are worried about their future. There are good reasons for their concerns, because scientists have predicted that warmer temperatures and related climate changes could mean the end of reliable snow at resorts situated below altitudes of about 5,000 feet (1,500m) by the year 2050....

Continued Warming Predicted

Entrepenas Reservoir

Because greenhouse gases already released into the atmosphere will linger for many years, and because the Earth is slow to adjust to these changes, the climate is expected to continue to warm A boat sits on the dry reservoir bed of the Entrepenas reservoir in Spain in 2006. The IPCC says future warming is expected to be greatest over land and in the high northern latitudes. A boat sits on the dry reservoir bed of the Entrepenas reservoir in Spain in 2006. The IPCC says future warming is...

Solutions for Global Warming

If, as most scientists believe, human carbon emissions are a major cause of rising global temperatures, then only human action to reduce those emissions will be effective in solving the problem. Many people hope that technology and new renewable energy sources will provide an easy solution, but scientists and energy experts are not confident that this can occur quickly enough. Instead, most experts think that immediate caps on human carbon emissions are also necessary to prevent a future global...

US Climate Change Initiatives

In the United States, the federal response to global warming has been slow. The lack of federal efforts, however, has inspired states and localities to take action. Almost half of all states, for example, have created funds to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy, and twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have mandated that electrical utility companies generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. Twenty-nine states also have adopted climate...

Clean Coal and Nuclear Technologies

Because renewable technologies need further development, some experts argue that currently abundant fuel sources, such as coal and nuclear energy, may have to be relied on until better energy sources are available. The United States, for example, already uses coal to produce much of its electricity, and it has enough coal to last another 250 years. President Bush has proposed that more coal plants be built to reduce the country's reliance on foreign oil, but the problem is that coal is a fossil...

Escalating Allergens and Asthma

Although global warming may help some crops and beneficial plants to grow, it also could spur the growth of harmful plants, such as those that produce allergic reactions in many people. Global warming is expected to produce higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and warmer temperatures. In addition, this warming will cause spring to arrive earlier in many locations, leading to a longer growing period. All these conditions, researchers say, are expected to cause common plants to...

The Science of Global Warming

Since the planet was first formed, Earth's climate has constantly changed and evolved, and temperatures have varied widely. Throughout the period of human civilization, however, the world has been enjoying a warm, temperate, and relatively stable climate. This stability has allowed human civilizations, along with countless other species of animals and plants, to proliferate and flourish in recent centuries. The release of carbon and other gases from the burning of fossil fuels in the last...

Transportation Technologies

Several transportation technologies may also help to reduce carbon emissions. Of these, hydrogen fuel is probably the most attractive because it can be stored and used like gasoline. Hydrogen can be easily produced from water by separating hydrogen from oxygen, but this requires energy, either from fossil fuels or renewable sources. Thus, hydrogen is only as emission-free as the energy that is used to produce it. Other obstacles to hydrogen gas are that it must be compressed or liquefied in...

Positive Effects on Agriculture

Alarmists say rising temperatures will produce droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events that hurt agriculture. . . . But more often than not, researchers have found that a warmer climate seems to have positive impacts on agriculture. Dr. Craig Idso, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. Quoted in Diane Carol Bast, Expert Comments Drought, Flood Risk Exaggerated, Heartland Perspectives, April 14, 2008. And in the United States, water shortages that...

Start Finding Solutions

The great party of the twentieth century is coming to an end, and unless we now start preparing our survival kit we will soon be just another species eking out an existence in the few remaining habitable regions on Earth . James Lovelock, scientist, author, and environmentalist. James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia. New York Perseus, 2006, p. xiv. According to climate experts, however, it is still possible for humans to curb the most dire effects of global warming. The 2007 IPCC report, for...

Warming Is Here How Much Depends on Us

This new 2007 IPCC report makes it clear that global warming is here now, and we must take swift and effective action to stave off the most severe consequences. . . . At this point, some warming is unavoidable, but there is a world of difference between one degree and seven degrees. Dan Lashof, environmentalist and science director at the Climate Center, a project of the National Resource Defense Council, an environmental group. Quoted in Environment News Service, Global Warming Shock Wave...

Climate Change May Be Natural

The Earth was evidently coming out of a relatively cold period in the 1800s so that warming in the past century may be part of this natural recovery. John R. Christy, climate and atmospheric science expert at the University of Alabama. Testimony of John R. Christy to the Committee on Environmental and Public Works, Department of Atmospheric Science and Earth System Science Laboratory, University of Alabama in Huntsville, July 10, 1997. In the 1980s, largely because of antipollution efforts made...

Criticisms of Al Gores Claims

Global warming skeptics criticize former vice president Al Gore for exaggerating scientific assessments and predictions and presenting an alarmist portrayal of global warming. In a March 13, 2007, article in the New York Times, for example, columnist William J. Broad cited several scientists who criticized Gore's portrayal of global warming as a terrible catastrophe that will cause soaring temperatures, seas that might rise twenty feet, and more frequent and more deadly hurricanes. According to...

Natural Climate Changes

Climate scientists have known since the eighteenth century that Earth's climate can change dramatically due to natural causes. In fact, evidence from ice cores extracted from the Arctic and Antarctic regions show that planetary temperatures have varied by more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11.2 degrees Celsius) during the last 350,000 years. Long periods of lower temperatures have resulted in prolonged ice ages that lasted tens of thousands of years. Approximately every 100,000 years, these cold...