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Greenhouse gases
Global Warming Illustrated

What is global warming?

Simply put, global warming is the phenomenon in which temperatures are seen to be slowly rising worldwide as evidenced by weather records kept over the last century.

Today, many scientists believe that heavy industry has been the primary cause of rising temperatures. To support these claims, they point to the burning of oil, gas and other carbon-based fuels as the reason why atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have increased.

These levels of carbon dioxide have, in turn, threatened an increase in the magnitude of the greenhouse effect whereby the surface of the earth will inevitably become hotter. The weather changes brought about by global warming may also see instances of more powerful hurricanes, tornadoes and volcanic activity, scientists say.

Global warming timeline

global warming timeline
1977 1987 1997 2007

This color-coded map shows a progression of changing global surface temperatures from 1967 to 2007. Dark blue indicates areas cooler than average. Dark red indicates areas warmer than average. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio)

also see in Go Green: Amazon rainforest deforestation timeline

The great global warming debate

Today, the U.S. is alone among industrialized nations in its refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol that calls for for a universal reduction in carbon emissions.

Reflecting the official government position, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has adopted the phrase 'climate change' rather than 'global warming' to summon into the debate possible natural causes for the earth's rise in temperature. Some historians, for instance, point to the Medieval Warm Period and related evidence that global warming, followed by "The Little Ice Age", occurred naturally during the Middle Ages.

Whatever the cause, physical evidence of global warming is clear to scientists who have tracked the progression of warming trends worldwide. Seen most recently in the melting coastal regions of traditionally frigid Greenland, more dramatic evidence has been seen in the breakup of an Antarctic ice shelf (measuring twice the size of Manhattan Island) in late 2009 with further polar ice cap melting ongoing every year since.

also see in Holidays & Observances -> Earth Day

More about global warming around the Web:

On the Web, learn more about global warming with a look into investigations, theories and hotly contested debates on the science and politics of this century's most controversial issue, with more on the history of global warming and what it may mean for our future ...

What's up with the weather?
- Here's the PBS multimedia presentation based on the television special outlining the global warming debate, how evidence points to the burning of fossil fuels as a primary cause and what government and science can do about it, with related video clips, graphs and illustrations, FAQ, teacher's guide.

Global Warming - Check out an extensive overview from Wikipedia outlining recent scientific research as well as the controversy surrounding global warming, its possible causes, effects on ecosystems and glaciers, related costs & financial consequences and relationship to ozone depletion, including charts & illustrations, related references, and links to more information.

IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - The official site of the Nobel prize-winning United Nations report features findings and warnings, recommendations on global action, graphics & presentations, glossary of terms, related resources.

Global Warming Program | Union of Concerned Scientists - Advocating policy to help stem the threat of global warming by reducing greenhouse effect gases into the atmosphere, various reports show evidence of how it effects hurricanes, recent heat waves and other climate changes. Also read up on practical solutions for solving the global warming dilemma now, and ways visitors can help.

NCDC - Global Warming - Clear, straightforward FAQ on the topic covering questions about rises in temperature, ocean level changes, increases in greenhouse gases, plus links to related information and statistical data.


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