Global warming is a statistical fact, with the 20th century demonstrating many of the dramatic effects of global warming, including the critical loss of glacial ice caps. In the 21st century dramatic weather patterns have unleashed catastrophic hurricanes and tornadoes, making the dire predictions of global warming of growing concern. While some continue to argue the effect of human activity on the phenomenon of global warming, certain indisputable facts are harder to ignore.
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Natural gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour trap heat in the earth's atmosphere because of how the planet absorbs energy from the sun. This is called the greenhouse effect. Infrared radiation sent back out into the atmosphere is absorbed by these gases, reradiated and sent back to the earth as heat. This contributes to global warming. The more gases in the atmosphere, the more humans can expect to earth's temperatures to rise as a result.
While carbon dioxide existed prior to the Industrial Revolution that began in the 1700s, levels of carbon dioxide have climbed exponentially since humans began to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. The current global concentration of carbon dioxide levels far exceeds the natural levels ranging back over 650,000 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, these levels measured 280 parts per million by volume but in the 21st century reached more than 380 parts per million by volume, rising at 1.9 part per million by volume each year since 2000.
By the end of the 21st century carbon dioxide levels could reach more than 75 to 350 per cent of the pre-industrial concentration, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emission Scenarios. Considering that the earth is already facing crucial ice loss due to the rising temperatures, and that ice is one of the few critical freshwater sources for the earth, such a climb in temperatures would dramatically and negatively affect the planet and all its inhabitants.
Since trees absorb carbon dioxide as energy, cutting down the forests, and in particular the rainforests, for timber or land for the agricultural industry actually takes away one very important component to fight against global warming. Instead of absorbing carbon dioxide, burning or decaying trees release more of it back into the atmosphere. These critically important rainforests could be lost in as little as a century if deforestation continues at its current rate. Not only would this impact the wildlife that depend on these forests as a habitat, it would increase the rate and severity of the effects of global warming for the planet.
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