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Global Warming And Its Effects

 You warm up when you put on a coat because you lose less heat. Similarly, as we continue to pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, ...

 You warm up when you put on a coat because you lose less heat. Similarly, as we continue to pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the entire world warms as heat is lost.

CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels like coal have already raised the average temperature of the planet's surface by 1.1°C. Even greater warming has occurred on the continents and in the Arctic. As the waters rise, the repercussions are becoming increasingly evident, from record-breaking heatwaves and storms to catastrophic animal extinctions and coastal floods.

And this is only the beginning. Surface temperatures are on track to climb by at least 3°C or 4°C by 2100, and the globe may continue to warm long beyond that. We are causing massive changes that will take millennia to undo, if they can be undone at all.

For example, the entire Amazon rainforest might perish. As the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica melt, sea level is expected to rise a metre or more by 2100, and maybe another 20 or 40 metres over the next few centuries. Florida and other low-lying areas are doomed.

While life has flourished on Earth during many past warm times, this time is different. For starters, we have constructed towns and established farming systems for rapidly disappearing climates. As the permafrost melts in the Arctic, for example, houses and roads are falling.

Second, natural climate change factors such as changes in Earth's orbit result in steady warming over hundreds or millions of years. Our acts are causing unprecedented levels of global warming. Many plants and animals may be unable to migrate to colder areas in time to live, and unlike earlier warming events, they will be hampered by highways and towns. A sixth global extinction is about to begin.

Finally, the climate will not be stable for millennia. It will continue to change as we strive to adjust to the new normal. Venice, for example, has spent $6 billion on flood defences intended to withstand barely a 22-centimetre rise in sea level. They may not be able to keep the city safe for long.

The threat is so grave that nearly every country on the planet has joined the Paris Agreement, which asks for global warming to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, what governments have committed to do will only restrict warming to 3°C at most, and most countries are falling short of their promises.

Despite the increased use of solar and wind energy, the globe continues to consume more fossil fuels and pump more CO2 into the atmosphere. So it's a fair assessment of the situation when climate campaigner Greta Thunberg says we're practically doing nothing about climate change.

The Committee on Climate Change in the United Kingdom has recommended that the government adopt a binding aim of decreasing carbon emissions to zero by 2050. By 2030, all new automobiles will be electric-only, boilers and heating systems will be converted to green alternatives, and buildings will undergo massive and costly efficiency upgrades. It would also entail significant modifications to the British environment to allow tree-planting and carbon storage, as well as stricter industry emissions laws.

Some data suggests that we may be underestimating global warming, with temperatures reaching 5°C, 7°C, or possibly more by 2100. With so much warming, some regions of the world would become unbearably hot, making survival impossible without air conditioning.

Finally, some individuals have always favoured the phrase climate change over global warming since global warming causes numerous climatic changes such as more severe rainfall. Both words are used interchangeably in practise.

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