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Global warming is here, like it or not, and it looks like, according to virtually all of the world's top scientists, that we humans are the major source of the  problem, primarily due to our fossil fuel consumption. For centuries we've been burning abundant coal, oil and gas and pumping carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere faster than the plants and the oceans can soak them up. Our atmosphere's level of carbon dioxide is now higher than it has been for hundreds of thousands of years, and global temperatures are rising faster now than at any time in the past thousand years. Since 1850, average global temperatures have risen about .6 degrees Celsius according to the United Nations.

A statement made recently by Jeffrey Severinghaus, a geoscience researcher at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography sums it all up "There is no doubt that humans are warming the planet. That's very clear now. The data is beautiful. It's very strong. Humans are changing the climate, and we're expected to change it a lot more in the future." There is considerable debate among the scientific community on the degree and severity of the change but the consensus is that it is coming, and now is the time to take action to prevent the worst possible scenarios from happening.

According to a recent CNN article about global warming, no one knows exactly how, when or where global warming will play out. And in diplomatic circles, the "who" and "what" may be the most significant, as in which countries -citizens and companies alike -will bear the greatest burdens to control greenhouse gas emissions. But there is no doubt it will take a concerted global effort of citizens, companies and governments to stop the run away train before it is too late.

Things You Can Do To Help

Global Warming Resources:
NASA Global Climate Change

Global Warming -National Geographic
CICERO -Center For International Climate and Environmental Research
Union of Concerned Scientists -Global Warming

Union of Concerned Scientists Climate Hot Map
EPA -Global Warming Just For Kids
National Resources Defense Council -Global Warming
Sierra Club -Global Warming and Energy

The culprit is excess greenhouse gases produced by human activity. Greenhouse gases include such naturally occurring and man-made impounds as methane, carbon dioxide, water vapor and nitrous oxide, while others are exclusively human-made (gases used for instance in aerosols). These gases allow sunlight to penetrate the earth's atmosphere freely but when some of it is reflected back towards space as infrared radiation (heat) they trap this heat in the atmosphere, thereby causing global warming. And the major greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide emissions, resulting from petroleum and natural gas consumption, including of course our fossil fuel burning automobiles! Fossil fuel consumption represents 82 percent total United States human-made greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the resources for an overview of the effects of global warming is the
Union of Concerned Scientists Climate Hot Map Influences of global warming on people, freshwater systems, the oceans, weather and many other facets of life on earth are discussed in detail.

The following is a partial list of "geo-signs", from an excellent article on Global Warming in the September 2004 issue of National Geographic, that give an indication of just how extensive the problem is:

  • When President Taft created Glacier National Park in 1910, there were 150 glaciers. Today there are only 30 left and most of those have shrunk in area by two-thirds. It is predicted that within the next 30 years, if things continue as they are, most if not all of the park's namesake glaciers will disappear.

  • The world's oceans are heating up from the top down. Researcher from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography have found that the world's six ocean basins show a .5 degree Celsius increase since the 1940's in a pattern that could only be explained by human-induced warming.

  • The snows on Mount Kilimanjaro have melted more than 80% since 1912, the glaciers in the Himalayas in India are retreating so fast that most of the central and eastern ones could disappear by 2035, artic ice has thinned greatly over the past 50 years and Greenland's massive ice sheet is shrinking.

  • Spring freshwater ice breakup in the Northern Hemisphere now occurs nine days earlier than it did 150 years ago, and autumn freeze-up ten days later, and thawing permafrost has caused the ground to subside more than 15 feet in parts of Alaska.

  • Linked directly to melting ice around the world, the rate of global sea level rise has departed from the average rate of the past two to three thousand years and is rising more rapidly at an alarming rate, with grave implications for low lying coastal areas around the world, since never before hat so many humans lived so close to the coasts. More than a hundred million people worldwide live within three mean feet of sea level.

  • The Adelie Penguins of Antarctic Peninsula numbered 2,800 breeding pairs twenty years ago. Today the number has dropped to about 1,000. The cause is rising winter temperatures which have shrunk the sea ice, depriving the Adelies of an important feeding platform from which they hunt krill.

  • birds breed an average of nine days earlier than in the mid-20th century, frogs mate up to seven weeks. Changes in the patterns of animal species the world over that are due to global warming include tree swallows in North American migrate north in the spring 12 days earlier than they did twenty five years ago, and red foxes in Canada are shifting their ranges hundreds of miles toward the North Pole, moving into the territories of Artic Foxes. And the list goes on and on.

  • Rising average ocean temperatures are causing longer and more frequent bleaching episodes that are fatal to some corals.  

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