Global warming refers to an average increase in the earth’s temperature. This in turn causes climate change which affects the future of all people around the globe.
Certain gases (water vapour, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane) form a film in the upper atmosphere which traps some of the heat radiated from the earth. Known as the “greenhouse effect”, this natural process historically has served to maintain comfortable temperatures for life on earth.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is naturally released from the decay of organic material, animal respiration and wastes. Carbon dioxide is also produced by human intervention through burning fossil fuels (such as coal, natural gas, gasoline in cars), industrial processing and agricultural production.
The burning of fossil fuels keeps our homes heated and cooled, our vehicles and machinery running and generates a lot of our electricity. Over the past two centuries industrialization, population growth and the resulting dependence on fossil fuels for the world’s energy needs have increased the world’s CO2 emissions and simultaneously seriously depleted the world’s trees and vegetation.
As the CO2 content of the atmosphere increases, the greenhouse effect is amplified. The heat radiated from human activity and re-radiated from the sun multiplies the warming effect and creates climate change. As a result the planet’s weather patterns are changing, ice caps are melting, water levels are rising and deserts are expanding. The planet’s dramatic climate change over the past 50 years is already affecting our lives. Its impact on the lives of our children and grandchildren will be even more dramatic, even devastating. The pace of these changes will increase incrementally over the next 50 years unless we change our way of living.