Hurricane Katrina, August 2005./National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration/Geostationary Operational
Environmental Satellite
The Blue Marble./NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Reto
Stockli/Robert Simmon (http://visibleearth.nasa.gov)
The Plight of the Polar bear - On It's Way Out?
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus). Threatened species. Polar
bears could be heading to extinction. Photo credit:
Elizabeth Labunski
/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Global Warming and the Spread of Disease
The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).
Vector of West Nile Virus, dengue fever, St.
Louis encephalitis and Chikungunya. Native
to tropical and subtropical regions of
Southeast Asia. Now well-established in
Europe and the Americas. Photo credit:
James Gathany
/
ID1862/ Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention
Climate Change and Earth Signs
Global Warming and Receding Ice Caps - Puncak Jaya
Indonesia. Puncak Jaya ice cap, 1936.
U.S. Geological Survey
Indonesia. Puncak Jaya ice cap, 1972.
U.S. Geological Survey
Hurricane Katrina
Earth - A Planet in Peril
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    Climate Change and Global Warming

  • It is believed that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. From out of its cataclysmic beginnings, the Earth had
    emerged as the only known living planet in our galaxy.  No one really knows the exact sequence of events that
    had shaped the Earth into what it is today. But over the millennia, as it revolved and hurtled across the infinite
    reaches of space, it is evident that the Earth has gone through cycles of warming and cooling. Ice ages have
    advanced and retreated and species have teetered through evolution and extinction.

  • The cyclic nature of the Earth's geologic history is one of the main arguments against the theory of
    anthropogenic (man-made) global warming, which blames human activities for the current steady rise in the
    planet' s average global temperature---arguably brought about by the excessive production of greenhouse gases
    from massive industrial and commercial exploitation of coal, oil and natural gas.

  • It appears that the timeline of man's extensive use of fossil fuels has temporally coincided with a measurable
    and significant increase in global atmospheric CO2 levels over a span of only a couple of centuries.

  • Prior to the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s, atmospheric  CO2 concentrations were estimated at 280
    parts per million.

  • Currently, it's at 398 parts per million.

  • Although there are strong physical and measurable evidence pointing to the reality of global warming, the issue
    continues to divide the scientific community. In the meantime, atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise at an alarming
    rate.

  • The signs of change are apparent: retreating glaciers, species being driven to extinction, global spread of insect
    vectors, extreme weather patterns, to name a few.

  • Scientists believe that further warming could cause:

  • Significant changes in the amount and pattern of precipitation

  • Rise in sea levels, eventually drowning coastal communities and forcing mass inland migration

  • Massive thawing of permafrost causing further release of colossal amounts of terrestrial greenhouse gases, further intensifying the warming

  • Further retreat of glaciers and sea ice

  • More extreme weather patterns

  • Droughts
  • Heat waves
  • Hurricanes

  • Species extinction

  • Spread of water-borne and vector-borne diseases (such as malaria, dengue, encephalitis,  cholera and
    typhoid)

  • War and human conflict as extreme weather conditions cause food crisis and shortage of other basic human necessities

  • Over the past century, the Earth's temperature has increased approximately 0.7 degree
    Celsius (about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • Current projections predict that by the end of the century, if warming
    continues at its current pace, the Earth could be up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit
    warmer than it is today.

  • Scientists studying Antarctic ice cores predict that we should be heading for
    another ice age in the next 15,000 years --- too far off into the future in
    human time scale, but just around the corner in geologic time. However, the
    same scientists believe that it is possible that because of the colossal amounts
    of greenhouse gases that have already been pumped and continue to be
    pumped into the atmosphere, the next ice age may not actually arrive as
    predicted.

  • This could be a source of celebration and inspiration for climate change
    skeptics to keep the coal burning. After all, who would want to freeze in an
    ice age?

  • But the alternative scenario is likewise grim. Who would want to fry in a
    heat wave?

  • The arguments for and against global warming is explored in greater detail


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