Carbon dioxide or CO2 and other air pollutants that are collecting in the atmosphere like a thickening blanket, trap the sun's heat and cause the planet to warm up. For the past 200 years, the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, and deforestation have caused the concentrations of heat-trapping "greenhouse gases" to increase significantly in our atmosphere. These gases, mainly carbon dioxide, prevent heat from escaping to space, somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse. Carbon dioxide has increased by leaps and bounds in our atmosphere by as much as 30 percent in the last 100 years! With estimations of increases of temperatures of between 2.5 and 10.5 degrees by the year 2100, global warming is a cause of grave concern.
Causes of Global Warming
Coal-burning power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in the United States. They produce 2.5 billion tons every year and account for 36 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and 32 percent of mercury emissions. Automobiles, the second largest source, create nearly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually mainly with the use of fossil fuels.
Consequences of Global Warming
Rising sea levels will lead to increase beach erosion and flooding from coastal storms on the Eastern seaboard, in Florida and in other areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico.
Precipitation changes are inevitable, which will increase the risks of drought and floods all over the world. Melting glaciers, early snowmelt and severe droughts will cause more dramatic water shortages in the American West. Warmer sea surface temperatures will fuel more intense hurricanes in the Southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Significant storms are already on the rise. Sea levels have risen between 4 and 10 inches in the last century. The destruction of beaches and wetlands are also taking place around the world.
Deadly heat waves will be more common. 669 people died from heat exposure in the summer of 1995, followed by 250 deaths in 1999.
Forests, farms and cities will face troublesome new pests and more mosquito-borne diseases. Infectious diseases that were not known to be a problem in the United States before have reared their ugly head. Malaria has been reported as far north as New York, New Jersey and Michigan.
Disruption of habitats such as coral reefs and alpine meadows could drive many plants and animal species to extinction.
Shifting ranges of infectious diseases-Diseases that were not known to be a problem in areas such as the United States have shown their ugly head. Malaria has been reported as far north as New York, New Jersey and Michigan.
Evidence of global warming has begun.