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AIR POLLUTION & GLOBAL WARMING

Air pollution:

Air pollution occurs when harmful substances


including particulates and biological molecules are introduced
into Earth's atmosphere. It may cause diseases, allergies or death
in humans; it may also cause harm to other living organisms such
as animals and food crops, and may damage the natural or built
environment. Human activity and natural processes can both
generate air pollution.

Indoor air pollution and poor urban air quality are listed as two of
the world's worst toxic pollution problems in the 2008 Blacksmith
Institute World's Worst Polluted Places report. According to the
2014 WHO report, air pollution in 2012 caused the deaths of
around 7 million people worldwide, an estimate roughly matched
by the International Energy Agency.

What is Air Pollution?

Pollution is now a common place term, that our ears are attuned
to. We hear about the various forms of pollution and read about it
through the mass media. Air pollution is one such form that refers
to the contamination of the air, irrespective of indoors or outside.
A physical, biological or chemical alteration to the air in the
atmosphere can be termed as pollution. It occurs when any
harmful gases, dust, smoke enters into the atmosphere and
makes it difficult for plants, animals and humans to survive as the
air becomes dirty.

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Air pollution can


further be
classified into two
sections- Visible
air pollution and
invisible air
pollution. Another
way of looking at
Air pollution could
be any substance
that holds the
potential to
hinder the atmosphere or the well being of the
living beings surviving in it. The sustainment
of all things living is due
to a combination of gases that
collectively form the atmosphere; the imbalance caused by the
increase or decrease of the percentage of these gases can be
harmful for survival.

The Ozone layer considered crucial for the existence of the


ecosystems on the planet is depleting due to increased
pollution. Global warming, a direct result of the increased
imbalance of gases in the atmosphere has come to be known as
the biggest threat and challenge that the contemporary world has
to overcome in a bid for survival.

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The Clean Air Act authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection


Agency (EPA) to protect public health by regulating the emissions
of these harmful air pollutants. The NRDC has been a leading
authority on this law since it was established in 1970.
Types of Pollutants

In order to understand the causes of Air pollution, several


divisions can be made.

Primarily air pollutants can be caused by primary sources


or secondary sources. The pollutants that are a direct result
of the process can be called primary pollutants. A classic
example of a primary pollutant would be the sulfur-dioxide
emitted from factories

Secondary pollutants are the ones that are caused by the


inter mingling and reactions of primary
pollutants. Smog created by the interactions of several
primary pollutants is known to be as secondary pollutant.

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Causes of Air
pollution

1. Burning of Fossil Fuels: Sulfur dioxide emitted from the


combustion of fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and other factory
combustibles is one the major cause of air pollution. Pollution
emitting from vehicles including trucks, jeeps, cars, trains,
airplanes cause immense amount of pollution. We rely on them to
fulfill our daily basic needs of transportation. But, there overuse is
killing our environment as dangerous gases are polluting the
environment. Carbon Monooxide caused by improper or
incomplete combustion and generally emitted from vehicles is
another major pollutant along with Nitrogen Oxides, that is
produced from both natural and man made processes.

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2. Agricultural activities: Ammonia is a very common by


product from agriculture related activities and is one of the most
hazardous gases in the atmosphere. Use of insecticides,
pesticides and fertilizers in agricultural activities has grown quite
a lot. They emit harmful chemicals into the air and can also
cause water pollution.

3. Exhaust from factories and industries: Manufacturing


industries release large amount of carbon monoxide,
hydrocarbons, organic compounds, and
chemicals into the air thereby depleting the quality of
air. Manufacturing
industries can be
found at every corner
of the earth and there is no
area that has not been
affected by it.
Petroleum
refineries also
release
hydrocarbons
and various other chemicals that pollute the air and also
cause land pollution.

4. Mining operations: Mining is a process wherein minerals


below the earth are extracted using large equipments. During the
process dust and chemicals are released in the air causing
massive air pollution. This is one of the reason which is

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responsible for the deteriorating health conditions of workers and


nearby residents.

5. Indoor air pollution: Household cleaning products, painting


supplies emit toxic chemicals in the air and cause air pollution.
Have you ever noticed that once you paint walls of your house, it
creates some sort of smell which makes it literally impossible for
you to breathe.

Suspended particulate matter popular by its acronym SPM, is


another cause of pollution. Referring to the particles afloat in the
air, SPM is usually caused by dust, combustion etc.

Most air pollution comes from energy use and production,


says John Walke, director of the Clean Air Project, part of
the Climate and Clean Air program at NRDC. Burning fossil fuels
releases gases and chemicals into the air. And in an especially
destructive feedback loop, air pollution not only contributes to
climate change but is also exacerbated by it. Air pollution in the
form of carbon dioxide and methane raises the earths
temperature, Walke says. Another type of air pollution is then
worsened by that increased heat: Smog forms when the weather
is warmer and theres more ultraviolet radiation. Climate change
also increases the production of allergenic air pollutants including
mold (thanks to damp conditions caused by extreme weather and
increased flooding) and pollen (due to a longer pollen season and
more pollen production).

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Effects of Air pollution

1. Respiratory and heart problems: The effects of Air pollution


are alarming. They are known to create several respiratory and
heart conditions along with Cancer, among other threats to the
body. Several millions are known to have died due to direct or
indirect effects of Air pollution. Children in areas exposed to air
pollutants are said to commonly suffer from pneumonia and
asthma.

2. Global warming: Another direct effect is the immediate


alterations that the world is witnessing due to Global warming.
With increased temperatures world wide, increase in sea levels
and melting of ice from colder regions and icebergs, displacement
and loss of habitat have already signaled an impending disaster if
actions for preservation and normalization arent undertaken
soon.

3. Acid Rain: Harmful gases like nitrogen oxides and sulfur


oxides are released into the atmosphere during the burning
of fossil fuels. When it rains, the water droplets combines with
these air pollutants, becomes acidic and then falls on the ground
in the form of acid rain. Acid rain can cause great damage to
human, animals and crops.

4. Eutrophication: Eutrophication is a condition where high


amount of nitrogen present in some pollutants gets developed on
seas surface and turns itself into algae and and adversely affect

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fish, plants and animal species. The green colored algae that is
present on lakes and ponds is due to presence of this chemical
only.

5. Effect on Wildlife: Just like humans, animals also face some


devastating affects of air pollution. Toxic chemicals present in the
air can force wildlife species to move to new place and change
their habitat. The toxic pollutants deposit over the surface of the
water and can also affect sea animals.

6. Depletion of Ozone
layer: Ozone exists in
earths stratosphere and is
responsible for protecting
humans from harmful
ultraviolet (UV) rays. Earths
ozone layer is depleting due
to the presence of
chlorofluorocarbons, hydro
chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. As ozone layer will go
thin, it will emit harmful rays back on earth and can cause skin
and eye related problems. UV rays also have the capability to
affect crops.

When you try to study the sources of Air pollution, you enlist a
series of activities and interactions that create these pollutants.
There are two types of sources that we will take a look at:

Natural sources and Man-made sources:

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Natural sources of pollution include dust carried by the wind from


locations with very little or no green cover, gases released from
the body processes of living beings (Carbon dioxide from humans
during respiration, Methane from cattle during digestion, Oxygen
from plants during Photosynthesis). Smoke from the combustion
of various inflammable objects, volcanic eruptions etc along with
the emission of polluted gases also make it to the list of Natural
sources of Pollution.

While looking at the man-made contributions towards air


pollution, smoke again features as a prominent component. The
smoke emitted from various forms of combustion like in bio mass,
factories, vehicles, furnaces etc. Waste used to create landfills
generate methane, that is harmful in several ways. The reactions
of certain gases and chemicals also form harmful fumes that can
be dangerous to the well being of living creatures.

While weve made progress over the last 40-plus years


improving air quality in the U.S. thanks to the Clean Air Act,
climate change will make it harder in the future to meet pollution
standards, which are designed to protect health, says Kim
Knowlton, senior scientist and deputy director of the NRDC
Science Center.

Smog and soot

These two are the most prevalent types of air pollution. Smog, or
ground-level ozone, as it is more wonkily called, occurs when
emissions from combusting fossil fuels react with sunlight. Soot,

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or particulate matter, is made up of tiny particles of chemicals,


soil, smoke, dust, or allergens, in the form of gas or solids, that
are carried in the air. The EPAs Plain English Guide to the Clean
Air Act states, In many parts of the United States, pollution has
reduced the distance and clarity of what we see by 70 percent.
The sources of smog and soot are similar. Both come from cars
and trucks, factories, power plants, incinerators, engines
anything that combusts fossil fuels such as coal, gas, or natural
gas, Walke says. The tiniest airborne particles in sootwhether
theyre in the form of gas or solidsare especially dangerous
because they can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and
worsen bronchitis, lead to heart attacks, and even hasten death.

Smog can irritate the eyes and throat and also damage the lungs
especially of people who work or exercise outside, children, and
senior citizens. Its even worse for people who have asthma or
allergiesthese extra pollutants only intensify their symptoms
and can trigger asthma attacks.

Smog hanging over cities is the most familiar and obvious form
of air pollution. But there are different kinds of pollutionsome
visible, some invisiblethat contribute to global warming.
Generally any substance that people introduce into the
atmosphere that has damaging effects on living things and the
environment is considered air pollution.

Hazardous air pollutants

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These are either deadly or have severe health risks even in small
amounts. Almost 200 are regulated by law; some of the most
common are mercury, lead, dioxins, and benzene. These are also
most often emitted during gas or coal combustion, incinerating, or
in the case of benzene, found in gasoline, Walke says. Benzene,
classified as a carcinogen by the EPA, can cause eye, skin, and
lung irritation in the short term and blood disorders in the long
term. Dioxins, more typically found in food but also present in
small amounts in the air, can affect the liver in the short term and
harm the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, as well as
reproductive functions. Lead in large amounts can damage
childrens brains and kidneys, and even in small amounts it can
affect childrens IQ and ability to learn. Mercury affects the central
nervous system.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are toxic components


of traffic exhaust and wildfire smoke. In large amounts, they have
been linked to eye and lung irritation, blood and liver issues, and
even cancer. In one recent study, the children of mothers whod
had higher PAH exposure during pregnancy had slower brain
processing speeds and worse symptoms of ADHD.

Other greenhouse gases include methanewhich comes from


such sources as swamps and gas emitted by livestockand
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were used in refrigerants and
aerosol propellants until they were banned because of their
deteriorating effect on Earth's ozone layer.

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Another pollutant associated with climate change is sulfur


dioxide, a component of smog. Sulfur dioxide and closely related
chemicals are known primarily as a cause of acid rain. But they
also reflect light when released in the atmosphere, which keeps
sunlight out and causes Earth to cool. Volcanic eruptions can
spew massive amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere,
sometimes causing cooling that lasts for years. In fact,
volcanoes used to be the main source of atmospheric sulfur
dioxide; today people are.

Solutions for Air Pollution

1. Use public mode of transportation: Encourage people to


use more and more public modes of transportation to reduce
pollution. Also, try to make use of car pooling. If you and
your colleagues come from the same locality and have same
timings you can explore this option to save energy and
money.

How to Help Reduce Air Pollution

The less gasoline we burn, the better were doing to


reduce air pollution and harmful effects of climate
change, Walke says. Make good choices about
transportation. When you can, walk, ride a bike, or take
public transportation. For driving, choose cars that get
better miles per gallon of gas or choose an electric car.
You can also investigate your power provider optionsyou

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may be able to request that your electricity be supplied by


wind or solar. Buying your food locally cuts down on the
fossil fuels burned
in trucking or flying
food in from across
the country. And perhaps
most important,
Support leaders who push for clean air
and water and responsible steps on
climate change, Walke says.

2. Conserve energy: Switch off fans and lights when you are
going out. Large amount of fossil fuels are burnt to produce
electricity. You can save the environment from degradation by
reducing the amount of fossil fuels to be burned.

3. Understand the concept of Reduce, Reuse and


Recycle: Do not throw away items that are of no use to you. In-
fact reuse them for some other purpose. For e.g. you can use old
jars to store cereals or pulses.

4. Emphasis on clean energy resources: Clean


energy technologies like solar, wind and geothermal are on high
these days. Governments of various countries have been
providing grants to consumers who are interested in
installing solar panels for their home. This will go a long way to
curb air pollution.

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5. Use energy efficient devices: CFL lights consume less


electricity as against their counterparts. They live longer,
consume less electricity, lower electricity bills and also help you
to reduce pollution by consuming less energy.

Several attempts are being made world wide on a personal,


industrial and governmental levels to curb the intensity at which
Air Pollution is rising and regain a balance as far as the
proportions of the foundation gases are concerned. This is a direct
attempt at slacking Global warming. We are seeing a series of
innovations and experiments aimed at alternate and
unconventional options to reduce pollutants. Air Pollution is one of
the larger mirrors of mans follies, and a challenge we need to
overcome to see a tomorrow.

How to Protect Your Health

When you see in the newspaper or hear on the weather


report that pollution levels are high, it may be useful to limit
the time when children go outside or you go for a jog, Walke
says. Generally, ozone levels tend to be lower in the morning.

When you do exercise outside, stay as far as you can from


heavily trafficked roads. Then shower and wash your clothes
to remove fine particles.

If the air quality is bad, stay inside with windows closed.

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Wear sunscreen. When ultraviolet radiation comes through


the weakened ozone layer, it can cause skin damage and skin
cancer.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Industrialized countries have worked to reduce levels of sulfur


dioxide, smog, and smoke in order to improve people's health.
But a result, not predicted until recently, is that the lower
sulfur dioxide levels may actually make global warming worse.
Just as sulfur dioxide from volcanoes can cool the planet by
blocking sunlight, cutting the amount of the compound in the
atmosphere lets more sunlight through, warming the Earth.
This effect is exaggerated when elevated levels of other
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap the additional heat.

Most people agree that to curb global warming, a variety of


measures need to be taken. On a personal level, driving and
flying less, recycling, and conservation reduces a persons
"carbon footprint"the amount of carbon dioxide a person is
responsible for putting into the atmosphere.

On a larger scale, governments are taking measures to limit


emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The Paris Agreement, a voluntary agreement among 118
nations ratified on November 4, 2016, is one effort being
enacted on a global scale to combat climate change. As a part
of the agreement, each country agreed to take measures to
combat climate change, with the ultimate goal of keeping the
post-industrial global temperature rise below two degrees
Celcius. Another method is to put taxes on carbon emissions
or higher taxes on gasoline, so that individuals and companies

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will have greater incentives to conserve energy and pollute


less.

Global warming:
Global warming, also referred to as climate change, is the
observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of
the Earth's climate system and its related effects. Multiple lines of
scientific evidence show that the climate system is warming.
Many of the observed changes since the 1950s are
unprecedented in the instrumental temperature record which
extends back to the mid 19th century, and in paleoclimate proxy
records over thousands of years.

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In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate


Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report concluded that "It
is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant
cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century." The
largest human influence has been emission of greenhouse gases
such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Climate
model projections

summarized in
the report
indicated that

during the 21st century the global surface temperature is likely to


rise a further 0.3 to 1.7 C (0.5 to 3.1 F) for their
lowest emissions scenario and 2.6 to 4.8 C (4.7 to 8.6 F) for the
highest emissions scenario. These findings have been recognized
by the national science academies of the major industrialized
nations and are not disputed by any scientific body of national or
international standing.

What is global warming?


Here's a simple definition of global warming. (And yes, it's really
happening.) Over the past 50 years, the average global
temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history.
And experts see the trend is accelerating: All but one of the 16

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hottest years in NASAs 134-year record have occurred since


2000.
Climate change deniers have argued that there has been a
pause or a slowdown in rising global temperatures, but
several recent studies, including a 2015 paper published in the
journal Science, have disproved this claim. And scientists say that
unless we curb global-warming emissions, average U.S.
temperatures could increase by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over
the next century.
What causes global warming?
Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air
pollutants and greenhouse gasses collect in the atmosphere and
absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the
earths surface. Normally, this radiation would escape into space
but these pollutants, which can last for years to centuries in the
atmosphere, trap the heat and cause the planet to get hotter.
That's what's known as the greenhouse effect.
In the United
States, the
burning of fossil
fuels to make
electricity is the
largest source of
heat-trapping
pollution,
producing about
two billion tons of
CO2 every year.
Coal-burning
power plants are
by far the biggest polluters. The countrys second-largest source
of carbon pollution is the transportation sector, which generates
about 1.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions a year.

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Curbing dangerous climate change requires very deep cuts in


emissions, as well as the use of alternatives to fossil fuels
worldwide. The good news is that weve started a turnaround:
CO2 emissions in the United States actually decreased from 2005
to 2014, thanks in part to new, energy-efficient technology and
the use of cleaner fuels. And scientists continue to develop new
ways to modernize power plants, generate cleaner electricity, and
burn less gasoline while we drive. The challenge is to be sure
these solutions are put to use and widely adopted.
Initial causes of temperature changes
The climate system can spontaneously generate changes in
global temperature for years to decades at a time but long-term
changes in global temperature
require external forcings These
forcings are "external" to the
climate system but not
necessarily external to Earth.
Examples of external forcings
include changes in atmospheric
composition (e.g., increased
concentrations of greenhouse
gases), solar
luminosity, volcanic eruptions, and variations in Earth's
orbit around the Sun.

Greenhouse gases
The greenhouse effect is the process by
which absorption and emission of infrared radiation by gases in a
planet's atmosphere warm its lower atmosphere and surface. It
was proposed by Joseph Fourier in 1824, discovered in 1860
by John Tyndall, was first investigated quantitatively by Svante
Arrhenius in 1896, and its scientific description was developed in
the 1930s through 1960s by Guy Stewart Callendar.

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On Earth, an atmosphere containing naturally occurring amounts


of greenhouse gases causes air temperature near the surface to
be about 33 C (59 F) warmer than it would be in their
absence. Without the Earth's atmosphere, the Earth's average
temperature would be well below the freezing temperature of
water. The major greenhouse gases are water vapour, which
causes about 3670% of the greenhouse effect; carbon
dioxide (CO2), which causes 926%; methane (CH4), which
causes 49%; and ozone (O3), which causes 37%. Clouds also
affect the radiation balance through cloud forcings similar to
greenhouse gases.
Human activity since the
Industrial Revolution has
increased the amount of
greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere, leading to
increased radiative forcing from
CO2, methane, tropospheric
ozone, CFCs and nitrous oxide.
According to work published
in 2007, the concentrations of
CO2 and methane had
increased by 36% and 148%
respectively since 1750. These levels are much higher than at any
time during the last 800,000 years, the period for which reliable
data has been extracted from ice cores. Less direct geological
evidence indicates that CO2 values higher than this were last
seen about 20 million years ago.
Fossil fuel burning has produced about three-quarters of the
increase in CO2 from human activity over the past 20 years. The
rest of this increase is caused mostly by changes in land-
use, particularly deforestation. Another significant non-fuel
source of anthropogenic CO2emissions is
the calcination of limestone for clinker production, a chemical
process which releases CO2. Estimates of global CO2emissions in

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2011 from fossil fuel combustion, including cement production


and gas flaring, was 34.8 billion tonnes (9.5 0.5 PgC), an
increase of 54% above emissions in 1990. Coal burning was
responsible for 43% of the total emissions, oil 34%, gas 18%,
cement 4.9% and gas flaring 0.7%
In May 2013, it was reported that readings for CO2 taken at the
world's primary benchmark site in Mauna Loa surpassed 400 ppm.
According to professor Brian Hoskins, this is likely the first time
CO2 levels have been this high for about 4.5 million
years. Monthly global CO2 concentrations exceeded 400 ppm in
March 2015, probably for the first time in several million years. On
12 November 2015, NASA scientists reported that human-made
carbon dioxide continues to increase above levels not seen in
hundreds of thousands of years: currently, about half of the
carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels is not
absorbed by vegetation and the oceans and remains in the
atmosphere.
Aerosols and soot
Global dimming, a gradual reduction in the amount of global
direct irradiance at the Earth's surface, was observed from 1961
until at least 1990. Solid and liquid particles known as aerosols,
produced by volcanoes and human-made pollutants, are thought
to be the main cause of this dimming. They exert a cooling effect
by increasing the reflection of incoming sunlight. The effects of
the products of fossil fuel combustion CO2 and aerosols have
partially offset one another in recent decades, so that net
warming has been due to the increase in non-CO2 greenhouse
gases such as methane. Radiative forcing due to aerosols is
temporally limited due to the processes that remove aerosols
from the atmosphere. Removal by clouds and precipitation gives
tropospheric aerosols an atmospheric lifetime of only about a
week, while stratospheric aerosols can remain for a few years.
Carbon dioxide has a lifetime of a century or more, and as such,
changes in aerosols will only delay climate changes due to carbon
dioxide.Black carbon is second only to carbon dioxide for its

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contribution to global warming (contribution being estimated at


17 to 20%, whereas carbon dioxide contributes 40 to 45% to
global warming
In addition to their direct effect by scattering and absorbing solar
radiation, aerosols have indirect effects on the Earth's radiation
budget. Sulfate aerosols act as cloud condensation nuclei and
thus lead to clouds that have more and smaller cloud droplets.
These clouds reflect solar radiation more efficiently than clouds
with fewer and larger droplets, a phenomenon known as
the Twomey effect. This effect also causes droplets to be of more
uniform size, which reduces growth of raindrops and makes the
cloud more reflective to incoming sunlight, known as the . Indirect
effects are most noticeable in marine stratiform clouds, and have
very little radiative effect on convective clouds. Indirect effects of
aerosols represent the largest uncertainty in radiative forcing.

Solar activity
Since 1978, solar irradiance has been measured
by satellites. These measurements indicate that the Sun's
radiative output has not increased during that time, so the
warming during the past 40 years cannot be attributed to an
increase in solar energy reaching the Earth.
Climate models have been used to examine the role of the Sun in
recent climate change. Models are unable to reproduce the rapid
warming observed in recent decades when they only take into
account variations in solar output and volcanic activity. Models
are, however, able to simulate the observed 20th century
changes in temperature when they include all of the most
important external forcings, including human influences and
natural forcings.
Another line of evidence is differing temperature changes at
different levels in the Earth's atmosphere. Basic physical
principles require that the greenhouse effect produces warming of

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the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) but cooling of the upper


atmosphere (the
stratosphere). Depletion
of the ozone layer by
chemical refrigerants has
also resulted in a strong
cooling effect in the
stratosphere. If solar variations
were responsible for
observed warming,
warming of both the
troposphere and
stratosphere would be
expected.

How is global warming linked to extreme weather?


Scientists agree that the earths rising temperatures are fueling
longer and hotter heat waves, more frequent droughts, heavier
rainfall, and more powerful hurricanes. In 2015, for example,
scientists said that an ongoing drought in Californiathe states
worst water shortage in 1,200 yearshad been intensified by 15
percent to 20 percent by global warming. They also said the odds
of similar droughts happening in the future had roughly doubled
over the past century. And in 2016, the National Academies of
Science, Engineering, and Medicine announced that its now
possible to confidently attribute certain weather events, like some
heat waves, directly to climate change.
The earths ocean temperatures are getting warmer, toowhich
means that tropical storms can pick up more energy. So global
warming could turn, say, a category 3 storm into a more
dangerous category 4 storm. In fact, scientists have found that
the frequency of North Atlantic hurricanes has increased since the
early 1980s, as well as the number of storms that reach
categories 4 and 5. In 2005, Hurricane Katrinathe costliest

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hurricane in U.S. historystruck New Orleans; the second-


costliest, Hurricane Sandy, hit the East Coast in 2012.
The impacts of global warming are being felt across the globe.
Extreme heat waves have caused tens of thousands of deaths
around the world in recent years. And in an alarming sign of
events to come, Antarctica has been losing about 134 billion
metric tons of ice per year since 2002. This rate could speed up if
we keep burning fossil fuels at our current pace, some experts
say, causing sea levels to rise several meters over the next 50 to
150 years.
What are the other effects of global warming?
Each year, scientists learn more about the consequences of global
warming, and many agree that environmental, economic, and
health consequences are likely to occur if current trends continue.
Heres just a smattering of what we can look forward to:
Melting glaciers, early snowmelt, and severe droughts will cause
more dramatic water shortages and increase the risk of wildfires
in the American West.
Rising sea levels will lead to coastal flooding on the Eastern
Seaboard, especially in Florida, and in other areas such as the
Gulf of Mexico.
Forests, farms, and cities will face troublesome new pests, heat
waves, heavy downpours, and increased flooding. All those
factors will damage or destroy agriculture and fisheries.
Disruption of habitats such as coral reefs and Alpine meadows
could drive many plant and animal species to extinction.
Allergies, asthma, and infectious disease outbreaks will become
more common due to increased growth of pollen-producing
ragweed, higher levels of air pollution, and the spread of
conditions favorable to pathogens and mosquitoes.

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Is global warming too big of a problem for me to


help tackle?
Wondering how to stop global warming? Reduce your own carbon
footprint by following a few easy steps. Make conserving energy a
part of your daily routine and your decisions as a consumer. When
you shop for new appliances like refrigerators, washers, and
dryers, look for products with the governments Energy Star label;
they meet a higher standard for energy efficiency than the
minimum federal requirements. When you buy a car, look for one
with the highest gas mileage and lowest emissions. You can also
reduce your emissions by taking public transportation or
carpooling when possible.
And while new federal and state standards are a step in the right
direction, much more needs to be done. Voice your support of
climate-friendly and climate change preparedness policies, and
tell your representatives that transitioning from dirty fossil fuels
to clean power should be a top prioritybecause its vital to
building healthy, more secure communities.

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