What’s global warming? Want to know more about the greenhouse effect?
We asked the Environmental Protection Agency to help us find answers.
We know: 1-Minute Lesson on Global Warming
What's global warming?
Global warming refers to an average increase in the Earth's temperature, which in turn causes changes in climate. The Earth has warmed about 1ºF in the last 100 years. And the four warmest years of the 20th century all happened in the 1990s.
Periods of increased heat from the sun may have helped make the Earth warmer. But many of the world's leading climatologists think that the greenhouse gases people produce are making the Earth warmer, too.
What causes global warming?
When scientists talk about the issue of climate change, their concern is about global warming caused by human activities. Many scientists believe that the things people do that send greenhouse gases into the air are making our planet warmer.
What are greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect?
The greenhouse effect is the rise in temperature that the Earth experiences because certain gases in the atmosphere (water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, for example) trap energy from the sun. Without these gases, heat would escape back into space and Earth's average temperature would be about 60ºF colder. Because of how they warm our world, these gases are referred to as greenhouse gases.
How could an increase in the Earth's temperature affect things?
A warmer Earth may lead to changes in rainfall patterns, a rise in sea level, and a wide range of impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans.
Average global temperature has increased by almost 1ºF over the past century; scientists expect the average global temperature to increase an additional 2 to 6ºF over the next one hundred years. This may not sound like much, but it could change the Earth's climate as never before. At the peak of the last ice age (18,000 years ago), the temperature was only 7ºF colder than it is today, and glaciers covered much of North America.
What are some of the biggest contributors to the production of greenhouse gases and the increase in global temperatures?
What can we do to help reduce the production of greenhouse gases?