Global Warming

Facts, Causes & Effects

What is Global Warming?

Global warming is the term used to describe a gradual increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and its oceans, a change that is believed to be permanently changing the Earth’s climate. The increased volumes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released by the burning of fossil fuels, land clearing, agriculture, and other human activities, are believed to be the primary sources of the global warming that has occurred over the past 50 years.


Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius (Se-van-tay Air-heen-i-us), was the first to claim in 1896 that fossil fuel combustion may eventually result in enhanced global warming. He proposed a relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature. Arrhenius suggested a doubling of the CO2 concentration would lead to a temperature rise of 5 degrees Celsius.

What Causes Global Warming?

Scientists have spent decades figuring out what is causing global warming. One of the first things scientists learned is that there are several greenhouse gases responsible for warming, and humans emit them in a variety of ways. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which makes the Earth warmer. Most greenhouse gases come from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production. The gas responsible for the most warming is carbon dioxide, also called CO2. Other gases include methane released from landfills and agriculture (especially from the digestive systems of grazing animals), nitrous oxide from fertilizers, gases used for refrigeration and industrial processes, and the loss of forests that would otherwise store CO2.

What Are We Doing To Fix It?

There is no single solution to global warming, which is primarily a problem of too much heat-trapping carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Some things that can be done to prevent, and slow down the process of global warming are:

  • Reducing Fossil Fuel Use- There are two ways to reduce fossil fuel use: Use less energy, or use alternative, nonpolluting energy sources like solar and wind power.
  • Planting Trees- Because carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas, planting trees and other plants can slow or stop global warming. Plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
  • Reducing Waste- Decomposing waste in landfills produces methane and other greenhouse gases. Recycling metal, plastic, glass and paper lowers greenhouse gas emissions, since recycled items take far less energy to manufacture.
  • Conserving Water- Saving water reduces the amount of energy used. At home, turn off water immediately whenever you're not using it, and repair or replace leaky faucets and toilets.

Effects Of Global Warming

To fully appreciate the urgency of climate change, it's important to understand the ways it affects society and the natural environment. Sea levels are rising and glaciers are shrinking; record high temperatures and severe rainstorms and droughts are becoming increasingly common.

  • One of the most immediate and obvious effects of global warming is the increase in temperatures around the world. The average global temperature has increased by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 100 years.
  • Changes in climate can cause the jet stream to migrate south, bringing with it cold, Arctic air. This is why some states can have a sudden cold snap or colder than normal winter.
  • One of the most dramatic effects of global warming is the reduction in Arctic sea ice: In 2012, scientists saw the smallest amount of Arctic ice cover ever recorded. Most analyses project that, within a matter of years, the Arctic Sea will be completely ice-free during the summer months.

How Does This Effect Me?

Global warming doesn't just impact nature; your daily life is affected, too. Here are some examples:
  • Food prices are rising as climate change makes it trickier to maintain the specific conditions crops need to thrive. As the climate warms, the air holds more moisture and rainstorms become more intense, damaging crops.
  • Fresh water is becoming scarcer in some regions. Nearly 18 percent of the world's fresh water is found in the Great Lakes, which supply drinking water to a large region. Scientists expect lake levels to drop as the climate continues to warm up.
  • More wildfires are breaking out as droughts become increasingly common. Fires that go through drought-stricken land spread more quickly and burn longer, destroying forests and homes, public recreation spaces and grasslands.

My Opinion

Global warming is a real, and approaching event, that does have the possibility to be slowed down, and hopefully stopped. Although the damage that has been already done is irreversible, preventing further damage, and slowing down the warming process is doable, and fairly simple. By cutting down on resources, like fossil fuels, water, and waste production, we can slow down the global warming process.
Global Warming 101