Global Warming is Human Caused

Scientists have concluded that most of the observed warming is very likely due to the burning of coal, oil, and gas. This conclusion is based on a detailed understanding of the atmospheric greenhouse effect and how human activities have been tweaking it. At the same time, other reasonable explanations, most notably changes in the Sun, have been ruled out.

The atmospheric greenhouse effect naturally keeps our planet warm enough to be livable. Sunlight passes through the atmosphere. Light-colored surfaces, such as clouds or ice caps, radiate some heat back into space. But most of the incoming heat warms the planet's surface. The Earth then radiates some heat back into the atmosphere. Some of that heat is trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide (CO2).

 Illustration of how global warming works

Human activity--such as burning fossil fuels--causes more greenhouse gases to build up in the atmosphere. As the atmosphere "thickens" with more greenhouse gases, more heat is held in. Fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas are high in carbon and, when burned, produce major amounts of carbon dioxide or CO2. A single gallon of gasoline, when burned, puts 19 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The role of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in warming the Earth's surface was first demonstrated by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius more than 100 years ago. Scientific data have since established that, for hundreds of thousands of years, changes in temperature have closely tracked with atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Since the Industrial Revolution, the burning of coal, oil and natural gas has emitted roughly 500 billion tons of CO2, about half of which remains in the atmosphere. This CO2 is the biggest factor responsible for recent warming trends. 

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