Global warming is the increase in average near-surface air temperature on Earth since the industrial revolution and its projected continuation. Global warming has been called one of the greatest threats facing humanity by some commentators because of its potential to cause drastic changes in weather patterns with serious impacts not only on human populations that depend on agriculture but also on animals, plants, and natural resources around the world.
The definition of global warming
Global warming is caused by the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, like coal or oil, as well as other activities like deforestation (the removal of trees) or livestock farming, which causes methane.
The term commonly refers to the rise in the average temperature of Earth’s climate system since pre-industrial times, concurrent with an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The first half of the 20th century was marked by a series of milder than normal weather patterns, while later decades have exhibited increased variability and more frequent droughts, floods, heat waves and other extreme weather events related to climate change. Global warming has been detected by multiple lines of scientific evidence; most notably through rising mean global temperatures, widespread melting of ice caps and glaciers with attendant sea level rise, growth rates for Antarctic Sea ice extent at record low levels during recent years when compared to historical records.
Currently, we are at +1.2 ºC of warming in comparison to pre-industrial levels. Experts warn that we must limit global warming to +1.5 ºC in order to avoid catastrophic repercussions.
What impact will global warming have?
The impact of global warming is already evident in many ways. In recent years, the warming trend has been accompanied by a decline in wintertime Arctic Sea ice extent, and a significant reduction in spring snow cover over North America, Europe, and Asia. These changes are just some examples of how our planet is changing due to global warming.
Other signs include rising sea levels; increased frequency of extreme weather events such as heat waves and droughts; decreased ocean pH (a measure of acidity), which can harm marine life; shrinking glaciers on mountain tops around the world – including those in Glacier National Park in Montana; shrinking Arctic ice caps that provide habitat for polar bears.
Global warming has also caused glaciers to recede worldwide and enabled the conversion of forest lands to cropland in some regions. The resulting loss of habitat has negatively affected many species of animals, including polar bears and penguins, who depend on ice for survival.
In addition to this direct impact on wildlife populations, global warming has had an indirect effect on human health by increasing air pollution levels across the globe. As temperatures rise because of greenhouse gases released into our atmosphere from burning fossil fuels like coal or oil (and deforestation), more pollutants are released into our air.
Global warming is a problem that needs to be addressed. Some commentators have called it one of the greatest threats facing humanity. Global warming has the potential to cause drastic changes in weather patterns with serious impacts not only on human populations that depend on agriculture but also on animals, plants, and natural resources around the world.
We have seen that global warming is happening now, and its effects are being felt around the world. The scientific evidence for this conclusion is overwhelming and there is no doubt that urgent action needs to be taken if we are going to stop these trends before they get worse. We need our leaders in government and business to take this issue seriously so they can make decisions based on facts rather than myths when it comes time for them to decide how our society should deal with climate change.