Q:

What does global warming mean?

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Quick Answer

Global warming is the process by which the Earth’s average atmospheric temperature increases over time. The Earth has experienced both global warming and cooling during its 4.5-billion-year history. However, the current rate of temperature increase exceeds that which occurred in the past. Many scientists suspect that the accelerated rate of temperature increase is the result of human behavior.

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Full Answer

The primary driving force behind global warming is the change in the chemical composition of the Earth’s atmosphere. By burning hydrocarbons, humans release elevated levels of carbon dioxide into the air. As the atmosphere’s carbon concentration goes up, the planet retains more of the heat from the sun. The process works similarly to the way a greenhouse does, which is why scientists refer to carbon dioxide as a “greenhouse gas.” Carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas, but it is the most important one for humans to monitor. Methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases also contribute to global warming.

Rising temperatures cause a variety of effects on the planet. While a few of these effects are beneficial, most are detrimental to the current balance of nature. For example, rising carbon dioxide levels may cause plants to grow more quickly, but the accompanying rise in temperature may cause the polar ice caps to melt, raising the global sea level.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Who is responsible for global warming?

    A:

    According to the Environmental Defense Fund, humans are 95 percent responsible for global warming. The effects of global warming are caused primarily from the burning of fossil fuels and the deforestation of the world’s rainforests.

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  • Q:

    Why does global warming occur?

    A:

    Global worming is caused by the retention of the energy of the Sun in the atmosphere. The Earth is warmed by light from the Sun. This light passes through the atmosphere and strikes the surface. Some of the energy is reflected back into space, while some is absorbed by the ground, water and air. The energy that isn't radiated back into space warms the Earth.

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  • Q:

    Why should people care about global warming?

    A:

    Global warming affects people, plants and animals around the world in many ways, causing an array of short-term and long-term consequences, such as polluted air, warmer atmospheres, health ailments and extreme and unpredictable weather patterns. Global warming is thought to pose threats to environments and ecosystems on land and at sea. It may contribute to a rise in sea levels and cause floods, droughts and more frequent and severe hurricanes, tornadoes and snowstorms.

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  • Q:

    What is a brief summary of global warming?

    A:

    Global warming refers to the gradual increase in the temperature of the Earth's surface, atmosphere and oceans as a result of greenhouse gases. Carbon monoxide emissions created by deforestation and burning fossil fuels create a barrier that traps the sun's heat on the Earth causing the planet to warm up.

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