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Climate Change

Page history last edited by Susan Jazwiec 3 years, 7 months ago











IN THE FUTURE...................




  • Local isn't global. This month's severe cold isn't affecting the whole planet, or even the whole USA. The same weather pattern that has funneled frigid air into Chicago and Minneapolis has brought unusual warmth to Alaska and severe drought to California. Even more to the point, the USA covers just 2% of Earth's surface. Australia had its hottest year on record last year and experienced temperatures this month as high as 118.
  • Weather isn't climateWeather is what happens moment to moment in the atmosphere; climate is the long-term average of weather over time in particular places. As an adage puts it, climate is what you expect, and weather is what you get. Global warming doesn't preclude cold snaps, even severe ones.



NASA Shows 60 Years of Climate Change in 15 Seconds






  • Did you know?

Together, transportation and producing electricity cause more than 60 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.




The impact of humans


  • 95%the scientific certainty that humans are to blame


  • 3 ftthe amount sea levels could rise if climate change continues unabated


  • 7.2°Fthe highest predicted surface temperature increase by 2100



The heat is on for the planet as a whole, but what has been happening where you live? Click on the map to find out, or enter a location in the search box at top right.

The initial map shows average temperatures over the past 20 years; use the drop-down menu to see maps for earlier periods.

More: Read our climate change topic guideand learn about the data and graphic.








Global warming effects that may surprise you













BUSTED! The 6 Worst Myths About Global Climate Change


1. Scientists Still Don’t Agree

SO FALSE. According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends that have occurred over the past decade were caused by human activities. Eighteen international scientific associations have made statements on climate change showing their belief that climate change is happening and we need to take measures to mitigate its effects.

2. The Polar Vortex Proves the Earth is Cooling

While the polar vortex has successfully polarized climate deniers and believers, in this battle, neither wins.

The Union of Concerned Scientists explains the difference between weather and climate as weather being the rain falling outside right now and climate the overarching pattern of weather tracked over decades. The polar vortex is a single weather occurrence. This cold weather snap will not change the trajectory of a warming climate, nor does it indicate that global climate change is to blame. It is predicted that with rising temperatures we can expect to see more extreme weather like this, but this week’s polar vortex is hardly an arbiter of doom.

Check out this video from John Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser for a two minute explanation of the polar vortex.

3. Desalination and GMOs are the Answer

Michael Shellenberger, the climate scientist from theBreakthrough Institute has written extensively on the ability of mankind to develop new technology that will combat the effects of climate change. Shellenberger proposes GMOs and the desalination of ocean water to solve the impending food and water crises associated with global warming.

It is still not certain if GMOs are safe for human consumption and desalination of water is incredibly expensive. Incidentally, the areas that will be most effected by climate change are poor nations that struggle to survive as is. Michael Shellenberger writes off this reality as a leftist crusade for “climate justice.”

The Breakthrough Institute believes that technology will solve the environmental devastation brought on by climate change. While technology will play a key role in helping to protect historic cities from flood surges (like in Venice), their solutions are reactive when proactive action is needed. Not to mention many technologies they believe will save us have not been developed yet. (Even Stephen Colbert isn’t buying this one…)

4. Polar Ice is Growing

The shrinking ice caps have been the cornerstone of many climate debates, but recent reports show that Antarctic sea ice has actually extended by record amounts in the past year.

So here’s where things get tricky. Sea ice and continental ice are vastly different things. Continental ice is ancient ice that is hundred to thousands of meters thick. Sea ice is thin, unstable ice that moves with the currents and mass together through collisions.

Continental ice plays a pivotal role in climate change because ancient ice can’t be replaced when it melts. Locked in as land ice, when continental ice melts it causes sea levels to rise. Sea ice forms and melts with the seasons, so while sea ice extensions are a good thing they aren’t likely to last.

Photographer James Balog took time-lapse photos of sea ice around the world to track recession patterns. Click here to check it out.

5. Oceans Absorb Carbon Dioxide. Problem Solved.

Yes, oceans do act like carbon sink, pulling carbon dioxide out of the air and storing it in the water. But higher levels of carbon dioxide cause damage underwater just like it can in the air.

The ocean absorbs one-third of the carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere every day. This extra CO2 reacts with minerals in the water to form carbonic acid which makes the water more acidic. This reaction depletes the water of calcium carbonate the mineral that shellfish and other creatures use to form their shells. The world’s oceans have become 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution and scientists estimate these levels could double or triple.

6.  Higher Levels of Carbon Dioxide Makes for Lower Temperatures

A climate change surprise indeed. Looking at graphs that map trends in carbon dioxide levels and temperature, CO2 levels appear to lag behind the increase in temperature. But if increased levels of carbon dioxide are the cause of rising temperatures how can this be true? Quite the case of chicken or egg.

According to Skeptical Science, “Carbon dioxide didn’t initiate warming from past ice ages but it did amplify warming.”

So as we know, the Earth’s climate has been warming at a natural rate since the end of the last ice age. Warmer temperatures leads to warmer oceans and air, naturally. The kicker is that warmer water and air hold more carbon dioxide creating a sort of vicious cycle. As humans release more and more CO2 into the air, a ripple effect of warming occurs. Carbon dioxide acts like a blanket trapping heat in the atmosphere, causing more water to evaporate and release stored CO2 which eventually leads to higher temperatures. While it may look like CO2 levels lag behind temperature, these graphs actually illustrate is a cycle gaining momentum.



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