What is global warming, and how is it affecting the Earth and its inhabitants? Global Warming is sometimes referred to as the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the absorption of energy radiated from the Earth's surface by carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to become warmer. The greenhouse effect is what is causing the temperature on the Earth to rise, and creating many problems that will begin to occur in the coming decades. For the last 10,000 years, the Earth's climate has been extraordinarily beneficial to mankind. "Humans have prospered tremendously well under a benign atmosphere," (Bates 28). .
Today, however, major changes are taking place. People are conducting an inadvertent global experiment by changing the face of the entire planet. We are destroying the ozone layer, which allows life to exist on the Earth's surface. All of these activities are unfavorably altering the composition of the biosphere and the Earth's heat balance. If we do not slow down our use of fossil fuels and stop destroying, the forests, the world could become hotter than it has been in the past million years. Average global temperatures have risen 1 degree Fahrenheit over the last century. If carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continue to spill into the atmosphere, global temperatures could rise five to 10 degrees by the middle of the next century. .
The warning will be the greatest at the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, with the largest temperature rises occurring in winter. Most areas will experience summertime highs well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. New temperature records will be set each year. .
As a possible prelude to global warming, the decade of the 1980's has had the six hottest years of the century (Erandson 18-22). Atmospheric disturbances brought on by the additional warming will produce more violent storms and larger death tolls.