Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, cloud forests are dying, and wildlife is struggling to keep up. It has become clear that most of the warming of the last century was caused by humans. To release gases that trap heat while powering our modern lives. Levels of these gases, called greenhouse gases, are higher than they've ever been in the past 800,000 years.
We often call its result global warming, but it causes a series of changes in Earth's climate or long-term weather patterns that vary from place to place. While many people think of global warming and climate change as synonymous, scientists now use “climate change” to describe the complex changes that affect our planet's weather and climate systems – partly because some regions actually cool in the short term.
Global warming encompasses not only rising average temperatures, but also extreme weather events, changing wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas, and a host of other effects. All these changes are occurring as humans continue to add heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Therefore, it changes the rhythm of the climate on which all living things depend.
What can we do – what can we do – to slow this anthropogenic warming? How will we deal with the changes we have already set in motion? The fate of Earth as we know it—coasts, forests, farms, and snow-capped mountains—hangs in the balance as we try to make sense of it all.
What are the causes of global warming?
2011-2020 was the hottest decade on record, with the global average temperature rising 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels in 2019. Human-caused global warming is currently increasing by 0.2°C per decade.
A 2°C increase in temperature compared to pre-industrial times is associated with serious adverse effects on the natural environment and human health and well-being, including a much higher risk of dangerous and possibly catastrophic changes to the global environment.
Therefore, the international community has recognized the need for efforts to keep warming well below 2°C and limit it to 1.5°C.
Humans are increasingly affecting the climate and the earth's temperature by burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests and raising livestock.
This adds enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to those that occur naturally in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.
The main driver of climate change is the greenhouse effect. Some gases in the Earth's atmosphere act like glass in a greenhouse, trapping the sun's heat and preventing it from leaking back into space and causing global warming. Most of these greenhouse gases occur naturally, but human activities are increasing atmospheric concentrations of some, particularly the following: