“Global warming” is a phrase that has increased in urgency and frequency over the past decade, and while its popularity has encouraged wide ranges of environmental awareness programs and lectures, it has also led to a few misconceptions surrounding the nature of today’s climate. As a result, there are a few global warming facts that need to be brought into a less polluted light.
What Exactly is Global Warming?
Global warming is one measure of climate change, monitoring a rise in the average global temperature. Its name, however, is perhaps a bit misleading, which amounts in part for the heaping ton of controversy with which it has been met (I’m sure we’ve all heard it: “Global warming my foot! This is the coldest winter we’ve had yet!” and other exclamations to that effect). While the increasing average global temperatures are a tremendous concern, the global warming fact of the matter is that these rising temperatures are not the only symptom of the issue.
What other Effects are Connected to Global Warming?
In jest, global warming was once referred to as global weirding, which is perhaps a more useful way of thinking about climate change. Climate change refers to the alteration of long-term weather patterns (ie: through human activity). As a result of this change, areas formerly prone to rainy weather patterns are now experiencing drought, along with the threat of forest fire; areas that were previously unaccustomed to rainfall are now receiving record amounts of rain, along with threats of flooding or even mudslides; some areas are becoming warmer while it is beginning to snow in unlikely places. Basically, the global warming facts are that global weather patterns are being disrupted and altered in a way that is both indicative of the larger global issue as well as threatening.
What is causing Global Warming,Wor “Global Weirding” to Happen?
The ultimate cause of global warming is the sun; however, there are many factors within the relationship between the sun and its filtration by the earth’s atmosphere that are greatly impacted by human activity. To summarize that basic relationship, solar radiation is radiated from the sun in the form of heat and energy. While some of this radiation bounces off the earth and back into space, a portion of it becomes trapped by our atmosphere (a delicate balance of gases that surrounds and insulates the earth). If none of this radiation was trapped, the earth would be frozen and lifeless; however, when too much radiation is trapped, the earth’s temperatures begin to increase dramatically, leading to global warming’s many facts and repercussions.
What is it that is Causing more Radiation to become Trapped within our Atmosphere?
The answer to this question is the most important global warming fact—the identifiable and preventable source of climate change. The thing that is causing so much more radiation to become trapped within the earth’s atmosphere is the atmosphere itself. As mentioned before, the atmosphere is made up of a delicate balance of gases, and one of the most important gases in the balance is carbon dioxide (CO₂). Carbon dioxide is what is known as a greenhouse gas (an aptly named heat-trapping gas that allows the sun’s rays to pass through without allowing them to escape again). Unfortunately, due to human activity, today’s atmosphere contains 42% more carbon dioxide than it did before the industrial era. In fact, we are releasing more and more of it into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, and by cutting down the trees that absorb and use the carbon dioxide, turning it back into oxygen before it can be absorbed into the atmosphere.
What is the Effect of this Increase in Carbon Dioxide?
Increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is like throwing on another (and another) thermal blanket. More and more of the sun’s radiation is becoming trapped by the earth’s atmosphere. The global warming fact is that, since 1900, the average global temperature has risen by 0.7 degrees Celsius, and the northern hemisphere is the warmest it has been in the past 1,000 years. As a result, global weather patterns are changing, the climate is getting warmer, and extreme weather events are becoming more common, more intense, and more destructive.
This article was written by Rose Murray, a reporter on environment and science,who is currently researching the topic of ‘climate change.’