Climate Change and Global Warming

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CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions are at an all-time high. In May 2013, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million. This is “approaching the halfway mark between preindustrial amounts and a doubling of those levels” (Washington Post J). This is a very large increase in the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere over a short period of time. One might ask what consequence could come of having such a large volume of CO2 floating around our atmosphere. The Union of Concerned Scientists says that CO2 is considered a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gasses are gasses that trap radiant energy in the lower atmosphere. Energy travels from the sun to Earth, which is then either absorbed by the atmosphere and ground. The energy that does not get absorbed into the ground is reflected back into the atmosphere and then either goes into space or gets trapped by greenhouse gasses. More heat energy will be trapped if there are more greenhouse gasses floating around in Earth’s atmosphere (UCS). Due to the nature of greenhouse gasses, doubling the CO2 levels in our atmosphere is projected to result in warming of four to seven degrees during this century. (Washington Post J). The current CO2 levels are troubling because if there is more heat being trapped in the atmosphere, then the Earth’s climate would also be expected to increase.

Average global temperatures have been increasing at an accelerating rate over the past few decades. NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies has been analyzing and recording the average global temperatures since 1880. NASA scientists say that 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 as the 7th warmest year. The 10 warmest years in 134-year record have occurred since 2000 with the exception of 1998 and 2010 and...

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