Video:What Is Climate Change?with Larry West
Climate change charts the increases or decreases in global temperature. Learn more about climate change, including how to measure it.See Transcript
Transcript:What Is Climate Change?
Definition of Climate ChangeDuring the entire 20th century, the average global temperature increased by about 0.6 degrees Celsius, or slightly more than 1 degree Fahrenheit. Using computer climate models, scientists estimate that by the year 2100 the average global temperature will increase by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius or approximately 2.5 to 10.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Effects of Climate ChangeScientists agree that even a small increase in global temperature would lead to significant climate and weather change. Rising temperatures would raise sea levels, reducing supplies of fresh water as flooding occurs along coastlines worldwide and saltwater reaches inland. Many of the world's endangered species would become extinct as rising temperatures changed their habitat.
Millions of people also would be affected, especially poor people who live in precarious locations or depend on the land for a subsistence living. Certain vector-borne diseases carried by animals or insects, such as malaria, would become more widespread as warmer conditions expanded their range.
While the Earth's climate does not respond immediately to external changes, many scientists believe that global warming already has significant momentum, due to 150 years of industrialization in many countries around the world.
How to Reduce Climate ChangeMany nations, communities and individuals are taking action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming by reducing dependence on fossil fuels, increasing the use of renewable energy, expanding forests, and making lifestyle choices that help to sustain the environment.
Whether they will be able to recruit enough people to join them, and whether their combined efforts will be enough to head off the most serious effects of global warming, are open questions that can only be answered by future developments.
Controversies Surrounding Climate ChangeWhile the majority of mainstream scientists agree that global warming is a serious problem, there are some who disagree and argue that global warming isn't worth worrying about.
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