10 Things You Should Know About Global Warming

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If you live a “green” lifestyle, you probably consider the subject of global warming─also referred to as climate change─now and then. So what exactly is this environmental phenomenon, and why should you care about it? While it’s a complex issue, here are 10 related facts to be aware of:


The primary greenhouse gas responsible for global warming is carbon dioxide. As it happens, the U.S. is responsible for nearly 20% of the carbon dioxide emissions in the entire world.


Since 1990, annual carbon dioxide emissions have increased by nearly 6 billion tons worldwide─more than a 20% increase─which is due almost entirely to human activities. These include the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as deforestation and numerous agricultural and industrial practices.


Along with carbon emissions, these same activities have led to increased concentrations of other greenhouse gases as well, such as methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and ozone in the lower part of the atmosphere.


During the 20th century alone, the average surface temperature of the world has increased by 1.2 to 1.4°F. The decade of 2000-2009 was the hottest on record─with eight of the 10 hottest years having occurred since 2000!


As global temperatures increase, the sea level is rising, and precipitation patterns are changing, while storms, floods, droughts and heat waves are becoming more frequent and severe.


At least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming, migrating north to escape rising temperatures.


The World Health Organization blames 150,000 deaths per year on the effects of global warming─including extreme weather, drought, heat waves, decreased food production, and the increased spread of diseases like malaria.


Indigenous peoples are those most affected by global warming, though they scarcely contribute to it. Rather, they have historically depended on local biological diversity, ecosystem services, and cultural landscapes for their sustenance and well-being.


The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment has concluded that in the past 50 years, the average temperatures of Alaska, eastern Russia and western Canada have increased as much as 7°F. This rise is almost twice the global average.


We’re creating massive problems for future generations. Did you know that carbon dioxide takes 100 years to disperse into the atmosphere? Even we could stop all emissions today, our children would still feel the effects for years to come.

It’s hard to consider all this, especially when most of us are already so busy with our own lives, but if we collectively increase our awareness, we’ll be on the way to planetary healing.

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