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.
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.Learn More
The National Wildlife Federation explains that global warming is thought to be caused by the greenhouse effect, which is the result of certain gases in the atmosphere trapping the heat of the sun and preventing it from radiating back into space. There are many gases responsible for this effect, including water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane. Artificially-produced chlorofluorocarbons, known as CFCs, are extremely effective greenhouse agents, molecule for molecule, but are present only in small concentrations.Full Answer >
Global warming certainly does exist and has since the first atmosphere formed on Earth. Some global warming has always been present and prevents the Earth from radiating energy back into space at the same rate it receives energy from the sun. When global warming is discussed in science and politics, it is often called anthropogenic, or "human-caused," global warming. This has also been demonstrated to exist.Full Answer >
Reducing personal energy usage is the most effective way to help stop global warming, as the Natural Resources Defense Council explains. The burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, is the biggest cause of global warming, because fossil fuels release carbon dioxide into the air.Full Answer >
Several efforts have been made stop global warming, including campaigns to raise awareness about environmental issues, advancements in resource saving technology, scientific research and legislation. According to the Washington Post, a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found many Americans favor changes made to stop global warming.Full Answer >