Global warming: facts, causes, and effects (2022)

The term “global warming” refers to the heating of the Earth caused by the long-term increase in the planet’s average air and ocean surface temperatures.

These temperatures have been on the rise since 1880 at a rate of 0.14° F (0.08° C) per decade, rising to 0.32° F (0.18° C) per decade since 1981. In fact, the warmest years in the records of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are 2016, 2020, and 2019.

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Average global temperatures are currently around 0.98ºC (1.76ºF) above pre-industrial levels, and this will probably reach 2.7ºC (4.9ºF) by the end of the century —with all of what that implies for the Earth’s climate— if individuals and industries don’t reduce their carbon footprintand act to reduce global warming.

But what is this all about, exactly?

What are the causes of global warming?

Although there are a few natural causes of global warming — such as volcanic eruptions and changes in solar activity — 97% of scientists agree that natural causes cannot explain the statistics by themselves. Research has demonstrated clearlythat human activity has been accelerating the process of global warming since the Industrial Revolution. In fact, global warming is believed to have started in the 1830s. But why?

The main cause of global warming is the greenhouse gas emissions that absorb radiation and trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, producing the greenhouse effect.These gases are mostly carbon dioxide (72%), methane (19%), and nitrous oxide (6%).

Global warming: facts, causes, and effects (1)

Carbon dioxide mainly comes from the combustion of fossil fuels (such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum) that we use for activities such as transportation, heating, manufacturing, and the production of electricity.

In addition to this, deforestation means there are fewer trees to absorb the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which they use to perform photosynthesis. Therefore, forest clearance is a contributing cause of global warming, due to the lower absorbance of carbon dioxide emissions.

Methane comes from the production of oil and natural gas, coal mining, organic waste in landfills, and livestock. Methane is even more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide, but it has a shorter atmospheric lifetime (12-15 years vs 300-1000 years).

Nitrous oxide comes primarily from the agriculture sector, particularly from animal waste and fertilizers. It is 300 times more damaging than carbon oxide and stays in the atmosphere for 114 years.

What are the effects of global warming?

Global warming is leading to a rise in the Earth's average temperatures that can have dramatic effects on the climate system and directly affect ecosystems.

Ice melting and rising sea levels

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According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), when averaged, absolute sea levels have risen at a rate of 0.06 inches (1.15 mm) per year from 1880 to 2013, however, "since 1993, average sea level has risen at a rate of 0.12 to 0.14 inches per year—roughly twice as fast as the long-term trend."

This is because the Earth’s warmer temperatures are already melting the glaciers and ice sheets, especially in Greenland and West Antarctica, and, as the water warms, it expands slightly.

Global warming: facts, causes, and effects (2)

Already, rising sea levels have contaminated the groundwater in some low-lying areas, making agriculture difficult or impossible, and this is set to increase as waters rise. Rises in sea levels also increase the threat of flooding, which could have a severe impact on cities and coastal communities, including along theU.S. Gulf Coast and heavily populated cities like Tokyo and New York.

Permafrost, a subsurface layer of soil that remains below freezing point throughout the year, is also at risk of thawing due to global warming. Many northern villages in Russia, Canada, Greenland, and Alaska are built on it.People in these places are already losing their homes and infrastructure due to the loss of permafrost. Their health can also be in danger because permafrost contains toxic mercury and antique pathogens that are released into the environment when it thaws.

Global warming: facts, causes, and effects (3)

Last but not least, permafrost contains organic carbon that can turn into carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gases that increase global warming.

Ocean warming

The oceans absorb much of the excess heat that the greenhouse gas emissions trap in the atmosphere. This way, they reduce some of the effects of global warming at the expense of rising ocean temperatures—something that is highly detrimental to marine ecosystems. While the ocean absorbs around one-third of the atmosphere’s excess carbon dioxide, this also results in a more acidic ocean.

For example, changes in the temperatures of the ocean surface are already stressing corals and leading to mass bleaching and die-offs. In response to that stress, corals release the symbiotic algae that live in the coral polyps—which leads to coral bleaching. Corals need algae to carry out photosynthetic processes and obtain energy and nutrients. When they lack it, they’re weak and susceptible to disease and starvation.

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Global warming: facts, causes, and effects (4)

This is important because coral reefs support the development of many marine species, such as sea turtles, starfishes, crabs, shrimps, etc., providing food to other marine animals, sea birds, and humans.

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Coral reefs also act as natural seawalls that reduce the impact of waves on the coast. Without them, seaside towns are at higher risk of storm floods.

Global warming: facts, causes, and effects (5)

Another example is the impact on species that need specific water temperatures to thrive. For example, the most abundant tuna species, skipjack, and yellowfin tuna prefer water temperatures between 20 and 30oCelsius (60 to 86oFahrenheit). As ocean temperatures rise, there will be fewer of these tuna, and those that remain are predicted to migrate eastward, affecting the livelihoods of the people who rely on ocean fisheries.

Ocean warming also contributes to ice melting at the Earth’s poles, with all of the subsequent effects this will have on marine ecosystems.

Global warming vs climate change

Global warming is not the same as climate change. It is, in fact, a cause of climate change.

Due to global warming, hot weather can be more intense and long-lasting as soil moisture is reduced. This can lead to extreme water shortages, drought,dried-out vegetation and wildfires, which affect flora and fauna.

Global warming: facts, causes, and effects (6)

Heatwaves can also impact human health due to a higher risk of heatstroke. They can decrease economic productivity and cause problematic water and power outages. They can also lead to droughts, whichcan last longer, causing shortages of drinking water and crop losses (which affect food supplies).

Global warming: facts, causes, and effects (7)

A modeling-based study by the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory of NOAA determined that air and ocean warming also produces more severe tropical storms with increased wind speeds. The frequency and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes, for example, have both been increasing, and this trend is set to accelerate as warming also increases. Average numbers of tropical storms in the North Atlantic Basin have risen from around 11 annually between 1966 and 2000 to around 15.

What can we do to slow or stop global warming?

Human activity is the major cause of global warming. This is because we produce too many greenhouse gas emissions. If we stopped them, the oceans would gradually release the heat that they are storing into the surface. Eventually, that heat would dissipate as the amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere would stabilize.

The experts recommend reducing your “carbon footprint” by minimizing your waste, car trips, meat consumption, and non-clean energy utilization. Instead, you should recycle, walk/bike or buy an electric vehicle, eat more locally-grown vegetables, unplug the devices that you are not using or, better yet, switch to energy-efficient appliances and/or power your home with renewable energy.

Global warming: facts, causes, and effects (8)

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are the burning of fossil fuels for transportation, electric energy production, and industries.

But there is a debate regarding how significant individual actions are on this matter. Especially when we look at statistics, it’s clear that in order to obtain better results, we should change much more than little habits —we should all switch to cleaner energies in all aspects and at a more structural level.

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In this sense, new policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from big companies and below could be the definite global warming solution.

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FAQs

What is the cause and effect of global warming? ›

Though natural cycles and fluctuations have caused the earth's climate to change several times over the last 800,000 years, our current era of global warming is directly attributable to human activity—specifically to our burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gasoline, and natural gas, which results in the ...

What are the effects of global warming answer? ›

The impact of global warming is far greater than just increasing temperatures. Warming modifies rainfall patterns, amplifies coastal erosion, lengthens the growing season in some regions, melts ice caps and glaciers, and alters the ranges of some infectious diseases. Some of these changes are already occurring.

What are 5 facts about global warming? ›

The 10 facts that prove we're in a climate emergency
  • There's more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than at any time in human history. ...
  • We're on the path to exceeding 1.5C of warming. ...
  • Our remaining carbon budget is tiny. ...
  • Extreme heat events have become more frequent and severe. ...
  • Humans have already caused 1.07C of warming.
9 Aug 2021

What are the causes and effects of global warming PDF? ›

Fossil fuels are being continuously used to produce electricity. The burning of these fuels produces gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides which lead to global warming. Deforestation is also leading to warmer temperatures.

Why is global warming a problem? ›

Global warming can result in many serious alterations to the environment, eventually impacting human health. It can also cause a rise in sea level, leading to the loss of coastal land, a change in precipitation patterns, increased risks of droughts and floods, and threats to biodiversity.

When did global warming start? ›

The instrumental temperature record shows the signal of rising temperatures emerged in the tropical ocean in about the 1950s. Today's study uses the extra information captured in the proxy record to trace the start of the warming back a full 120 years, to the 1830s.

How does global warming affect humans? ›

The health effects of these disruptions include increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries and premature deaths related to extreme weather events, changes in the prevalence and geographical distribution of food- and water-borne illnesses and other infectious diseases, and threats to mental health.

What is global warming notes? ›

“Global warming is a gradual increase in the earth's temperature generally due to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants.

What are 3 facts global warming? ›

Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner. Heat waves caused by global warming present greater risk of heat-related illness and death, most frequently among people who have diabetes who are elderly or are very young.

What are the 11 effects of global warming? ›

Global warming stresses ecosystems through temperature rises, water shortages, increased fire threats, drought, weed and pest invasions, intense storm damage and salt invasion, just to name a few.

What are 4 effects of global warming? ›

Higher temperatures are worsening many types of disasters, including storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts. A warmer climate creates an atmosphere that can collect, retain, and unleash more water, changing weather patterns in such a way that wet areas become wetter and dry areas drier.

What is a global warming class 6? ›

global warming—refers to the general increase in the earth's average temperature, which causes changes in climate patterns across the globe. The earth's average temperature has been increasing over the last century.

What are 5 advantages of global warming? ›

The chief benefits of global warming include: fewer winter deaths; lower energy costs; better agricultural yields; probably fewer droughts; maybe richer biodiversity.

What causes global warming essay? ›

A. 1 There are various causes of global warming both natural and manmade. The natural one includes a greenhouse gas, volcanic eruption, methane gas and more. Next up, manmade causes are deforestation, mining, cattle rearing, fossil fuel burning and more.

How did global warming start? ›

Scientists attribute the global warming trend observed since the mid-20th century to the human expansion of the "greenhouse effect" — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space. Life on Earth depends on energy coming from the Sun.

What is global warming and its effects Class 7? ›

Global warming: An increase in the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere leads to global warming. The global warming is quite dangerous as it tends to melt polar ice and glaciers existing on mountains, rise in the water level of the oceans and submerge several coastal areas and islands.

How do we prevent global warming? ›

10 Ways to Stop Global Warming
  1. Change a light. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  2. Drive less. ...
  3. Recycle more. ...
  4. Check your tires. ...
  5. Use less hot water. ...
  6. Avoid products with a lot of packaging. ...
  7. Adjust your thermostat. ...
  8. Plant a tree.

Why do we need to stop global warming? ›

A warmer climate increases public health challenges like heat aggravated illnesses, increases in vector borne diseases, and decreased access to safe water and food. Cutting short-lived climate pollutants can slow the rate of warming and lower public health risks.

Who discovered global warming? ›

In 1896, a seminal paper by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first predicted that changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect. In 1938, Guy Callendar connected carbon dioxide increases in Earth's atmosphere to global warming.

How fast is the Earth warming? ›

Highlights. Earth's temperature has risen by 0.14° Fahrenheit (0.08° Celsius) per decade since 1880, but the rate of warming since 1981 is more than twice that: 0.32° F (0.18° C) per decade. 2021 was the sixth-warmest year on record based on NOAA's temperature data.

How do you cool a planet? ›

To cool the planet in this century, humans must either remove carbon from the air or use solar geoengineering, a temporary measure that may reduce peak temperatures, extreme storms and other climatic changes.

How does global warming hurt animals? ›

Rising temperatures lower many species survival rates due to changes that lead to less food, less successful reproduction, and interfering with the environment for native wildlife. These detrimental changes are already apparent in our National Capital Area parks.

How does global warming affect plants? ›

Rising temperatures lead to more frequent droughts, wildfires, and invasive pest outbreaks, leading to the loss of plant species. That has numerous detrimental effects including: Lowered Productivity: Longer droughts and increased number of heat waves will stress plants, causing them to be less productive.

How climate affect our life? ›

The impacts of climate change on different sectors of society are interrelated. Drought can harm food production and human health. Flooding can lead to disease spread and damages to ecosystems and infrastructure. Human health issues can increase mortality, impact food availability, and limit worker productivity.

What is global warming explain in 50 words? ›

Global warming is a gradual increase in the temperature of the earth surface and atmosphere all around the world. It is caused due to the greenhouse effect of increased level of green house gases such as carbon dioxide, CFCs, etc.

How is greenhouse effect harmful? ›

Greenhouse gases have far-ranging environmental and health effects. They cause climate change by trapping heat, and they also contribute to respiratory disease from smog and air pollution. Extreme weather, food supply disruptions, and increased wildfires are other effects of climate change caused by greenhouse gases.

What are the causes of global warming essay? ›

A.1 There are various causes of global warming both natural and manmade. The natural one includes a greenhouse gas, volcanic eruption, methane gas and more. Next up, manmade causes are deforestation, mining, cattle rearing, fossil fuel burning and more.

What are effects of global warming essay? ›

The Effect of Global Warming

It includes melting of polar ice caps, leading to an increase in sea level drowning coastlines and slowly submerging continents. Recent studies by National Snow and Ice Datacenter “if the ice melted today the seas would rise about 230 feet”.

What is the cause of greenhouse effect '? ›

The greenhouse effect is a process that occurs when gases in Earth's atmosphere trap the Sun's heat. This process makes Earth much warmer than it would be without an atmosphere.

What are the 3 main effects of climate change? ›

The potential future effects of global climate change include more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions, and an increase in the duration and intensity of tropical storms.

When did global warming start? ›

The instrumental temperature record shows the signal of rising temperatures emerged in the tropical ocean in about the 1950s. Today's study uses the extra information captured in the proxy record to trace the start of the warming back a full 120 years, to the 1830s.

What are the 20 causes of global warming? ›

Burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests and farming livestock are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth's temperature. This adds enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to those naturally occurring in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.

What is global warming writing? ›

Essay On Global Warming in 300 Words. Global warming is a phenomenon where the earth's average temperature rises due to increased amounts of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and ozone trap the incoming radiation from the sun.

What is global warming in easy English? ›

Global warming is the long-term warming of the planet's overall temperature. Though this warming trend has been going on for a long time, its pace has significantly increased in the last hundred years due to the burning of fossil fuels. As the human population has increased, so has the volume of fossil fuels burned.

Why do we need to stop global warming? ›

A warmer climate increases public health challenges like heat aggravated illnesses, increases in vector borne diseases, and decreased access to safe water and food. Cutting short-lived climate pollutants can slow the rate of warming and lower public health risks.

How do we prevent global warming? ›

10 Ways to Stop Global Warming
  1. Change a light. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  2. Drive less. ...
  3. Recycle more. ...
  4. Check your tires. ...
  5. Use less hot water. ...
  6. Avoid products with a lot of packaging. ...
  7. Adjust your thermostat. ...
  8. Plant a tree.

What is climate change kids? ›

Climate change refers to the long-term changes in global temperatures and other characteristics of the atmosphere. Climate has changed throughout Earth's long history, but this time it's different. Human activity is causing worldwide temperatures to rise higher and faster than any time we know of in the past.

What causes climate change for kids? ›

The primary cause of climate change is human activities – like driving cars, creating electricity, and cutting down forests – not natural changes in the climate. These human activities release gases into the atmosphere called greenhouse gases, which slowly warm the planet, creating climate change.

Is greenhouse effect good or bad? ›

The greenhouse effect is a good thing. It warms the planet to its comfortable average of 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) and keeps life on earth, well, livable. Without it the world would be a frozen, uninhabitable place, more like Mars.

How climate affect our life? ›

The impacts of climate change on different sectors of society are interrelated. Drought can harm food production and human health. Flooding can lead to disease spread and damages to ecosystems and infrastructure. Human health issues can increase mortality, impact food availability, and limit worker productivity.

How does global warming affect humans? ›

The health effects of these disruptions include increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries and premature deaths related to extreme weather events, changes in the prevalence and geographical distribution of food- and water-borne illnesses and other infectious diseases, and threats to mental health.

How does global warming affect animals? ›

Rising temperatures lower many species survival rates due to changes that lead to less food, less successful reproduction, and interfering with the environment for native wildlife. These detrimental changes are already apparent in our National Capital Area parks.

Videos

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