In recent years, scientists have concluded that our planet is in a stage of global warming. While many people have heard of global warming, few realize how it may affect our planet. More importantly, they don't know what they can do to prevent it. I am going to assess the causes and effects of global warming to provide a clearer understanding.
One problem scientists have run across in trying to prove global warming is the limited timeframe they have to work with. We only have temperature data from the past 150 years, which is a very short period in global terms. Many people are skeptical of climate change because of this limited frame of reference. However, data does show that the earth's average temperate has increased about 1F over the past century. Also, the past 15 years have been the warmest in our recorded history.
Global warming is thought to be caused by a process called the "greenhouse effect."" The earth's weather and climate are determined by energy released by the sun. In turn, the earth radiates energy back into space. Some of this energy, however, is trapped in the atmosphere by gases. Thus, these gases are called "greenhouse gases- because they act like the glass panels of a greenhouse. Greenhouse gases are actually necessary for life on earth; without them, our planet would be much too cold. However, a problem arises when we have too many of them in our atmosphere. The gases accumulate and disrupt the natural greenhouse process.
The build-up of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has been traced back to the Industrial Revolution, when we started to burn more fossil fuels. These fuels, which are burned to run automobiles, heat buildings, and power factories are responsible for about 98% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, 24% of methane emissions, and 18% of nitrous oxide emissions. These three gases are considered to be the most potent greenhouse offenders.
So what does this mean to us? It is difficult to predict the exact effects of global warming, especially at a local level.