How Might Global Climate Change Affect Life on Earth?
ESU501  Human Activities Are a Major Cause of Global Warming

Major Findings about Climate Change

  • Reconstructions of the past 1,000 years of climate data indicate that the warming which has occurred over the past 100 years was unlikely to be entirely natural in origin.
  • Most scientific studies estimate that the rate of global warming over the past 50 years coincides with increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.

A report issued in 2001 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that it is "virtually certain" that emissions of carbon dioxide due to fossil fuel burning are the main cause of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide during the 21st century.

The graph below shows temperature records and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 1,000 years.

Adapted from USGCRP
Composite graph showing temperature anomaly and carbon dioxide level over the past 1,000 years.

4. Predict the effect that continued increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide will have on global temperatures.

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