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Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-twentieth century and its projected continuation. Global surface temperature increased 0.74 0.18 C (1.33 0.32 F) during the last century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the temperature increase since the middle of the twentieth century, and that natural phenomena like solar variation and volcanoes probably had a small warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950 and a small cooling effect afterward. These basic conclusions have been endorsed by more than 40 scientific societies and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries.
Climate model projections summarized by the IPCC indicate that global surface temperature will probably rise another 1.1 to 6.4 C (2.0 to 11.5 F) during the twenty-first century.
It is usually impossible to connect specific weather events to global warming. Instead, global warming is expected to cause changes in the overall distribution and intensity of events, such as changes to the frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation. Broader effects are expected to include glacial retreat, Arctic shrinkage, and worldwide sea level rise. Effects may include changes in crop yields, addition of new trade routes, species extinctions, and changes in the range of disease vectors. Other likely effects include shrinkage of the Amazon rainforest and Boreal forests, and increases in the intensity of extreme weather events. Runaway effects of global warming could lead to Climate chaos.
Debate continues regarding the appropriate response to global warming. The available options are mitigation to reduce further emissions; adaptation to reduce the damage caused by warming; and, more speculatively, Geoengineering, the deliberate modification of Earth’s natural environment on a large scale to reverse global warming and suit human needs. Many environmental groups encourage individual action against global warming, as well as community and regional actions. United States President Barack Obama has announced plans to introduce an economy wide cap and trade scheme.
The world’s primary international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S. is one of the few countries not to have ratified it although the U.S. is historically the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Poor regions, particularly Africa, appear at greatest risk from the projected effects of global warming, while their emissions have been small compared to the developed world. Talks have begun on a treaty to replace Kyoto when it expires in 2012, and UN negotiations are now gathering pace before a key meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009.
Technogaianism advocates the use of technology to solve environmental problems such as climate change.
Wikipedia on Global Warming