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Global warming

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For scientific and political disputes, see Global warming controversy, Scientific opinion
on climate change and Public opinion on climate change.
For past climate change see Paleoclimatology and Geologic temperature record. For the
Sonny Rollins album see Global Warming (album).

1880-2010 global annual mean surface air temperature change relative to the 1951–1980
average. The red line is the 5-year running mean (temperature averaged over 5 years).
Source: NASA GISS

Comparison of surface based (blue) and satellite based (red: UAH; green: RSS) records
of global temperature change since 1979. Linear trends plotted since 1982.

2000-2009 global mean land-ocean surface temperature anomalies relative to the 1951-
1980 average. Source: NASA Earth Observatory [1]

Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth's near-surface air
and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation. According to the
2007 Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC), global surface temperature increased by 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during
the 20th century.[2][A] Most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the
20th century has been caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, which
result from human activities such as the burning of fossil fuel and deforestation.[3][4]
Global dimming, a phenomenon of increasing atmospheric concentrations of man-made
aerosols, which affect cloud properties and block sunlight from reaching the surface, has
partially countered the effects of warming induced by greenhouse gases.

Climate model projections summarized in the latest IPCC report indicate that the global
surface temperature is likely to rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) during the 21st
century.[2] The uncertainty in this estimate arises from the use of models with differing
sensitivity to greenhouse gas concentrations and the use of differing estimates of future
greenhouse gas emissions. An increase in global temperature will cause sea levels to rise
and will change the amount and pattern of precipitation, probably including expansion of
subtropical deserts.[5] Warming is expected to be strongest in the Arctic and would be
associated with continuing retreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice. Other likely effects
include more frequent and intense extreme weather events, species extinctions, and
changes in agricultural yields. Warming and related changes will vary from region to
region around the globe, though the nature of these regional variations is uncertain.[6] As a
result of contemporary increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, the oceans have become
more acidic, a result that is predicted to continue.[7][8]

The scientific consensus is that anthropogenic global warming is occurring.[9][10][11][B]


Nevertheless, skepticism amongst the wider public remains. The Kyoto Protocol is aimed
at stabilizing greenhouse gas concentration to prevent a "dangerous anthropogenic
interference".[12] As of November 2009, 187 states had signed and ratified the protocol.[13]

Proposed responses to climate change include mitigation to reduce emissions, adaptation


to the effects of global warming, and geoengineering to remove greenhouse gases from
the atmosphere or block incoming sunlight.

Contents
[hide]

• 1 Temperature changes
• 2 External forcings
o 2.1 Greenhouse gases
o 2.2 Aerosols and soot
o 2.3 Solar variation
• 3 Feedback
• 4 Climate models
• 5 Attributed and expected effects
o 5.1 Natural systems
o 5.2 Ecological systems
o 5.3 Social systems
• 6 Responses to global warming
o 6.1 Mitigation
o 6.2 Adaptation
o 6.3 Geoengineering
o 6.4 UNFCCC
• 7 Views on global warming
o 7.1 Politics
o 7.2 Public opinion
o 7.3 Other views
• 8 Etymology
• 9 See also
• 10 Notes
• 11 References
• 12 Further reading

• 13 External links

Temperature changes
Main article: Temperature record

Two millennia of mean surface temperatures according to different reconstructions, each


smoothed on a decadal scale, with the instrumemtal temperature record overlaid in black.

Evidence for warming of the climate system includes observed increases in global
average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising
global average sea level.[14][15][16][17] The most common measure of global warming is the
trend in globally averaged temperature near the Earth's surface. Expressed as a linear
trend, this temperature rose by 0.74 ± 0.18 °C over the period 1906–2005. The rate of
warming over the last half of that period was almost double that for the period as a whole
(0.13 ± 0.03 °C per decade, versus 0.07 °C ± 0.02 °C per decade). The urban heat island
effect is estimated to account for about 0.002 °C of warming per decade since 1900.[18]
Temperatures in the lower troposphere have increased between 0.13 and 0.22 °C (0.22
and 0.4 °F) per decade since 1979, according to satellite temperature measurements.
Temperature is believed to have been relatively stable over the one or two thousand years
before 1850, with regionally varying fluctuations such as the Medieval Warm Period and
the Little Ice Age.[19]

Estimates by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the National
Climatic Data Center show that 2005 was the warmest year since reliable, widespread
instrumental measurements became available in the late 19th century, exceeding the
previous record set in 1998 by a few hundredths of a degree.[20][21] Estimates prepared by
the World Meteorological Organization and the Climatic Research Unit show 2005 as the
second warmest year, behind 1998.[22][23] Temperatures in 1998 were unusually warm
because the strongest El Niño in the past century occurred during that year.[24] Global
temperature is subject to short-term fluctuations that overlay long term trends and can
temporarily mask them. The relative stability in temperature from 2002 to 2009 is
consistent with such an episode.[25][26]

Temperature changes vary over the globe. Since 1979, land temperatures have increased
about twice as fast as ocean temperatures (0.25 °C per decade against 0.13 °C per
decade).[27] Ocean temperatures increase more slowly than land temperatures because of
the larger effective heat capacity of the oceans and because the ocean loses more heat by
evaporation.[28] The Northern Hemisphere warms faster than the Southern Hemisphere
because it has more land and because it has extensive areas of seasonal snow and sea-ice
cover subject to ice-albedo feedback. Although more greenhouse gases are emitted in the
Northern than Southern Hemisphere this does not contribute to the difference in warming
because the major greenhouse gases persist long enough to mix between hemispheres.[29]

The thermal inertia of the oceans and slow responses of other indirect effects mean that
climate can take centuries or longer to adjust to changes in forcing. Climate commitment
studies indicate that even if greenhouse gases were stabilized at 2000 levels, a further
warming of about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) would still occur.[30]

External forcings
External forcing refers to processes external to the climate system (though not necessarily
external to Earth) that influence climate. Climate responds to several types of external
forcing, such as radiative forcing due to changes in atmospheric composition (mainly
greenhouse gas concentrations), changes in solar luminosity, volcanic eruptions, and
variations in Earth's orbit around the Sun.[31] Attribution of recent climate change focuses
on the first three types of forcing. Orbital cycles vary slowly over tens of thousands of
years and thus are too gradual to have caused the temperature changes observed in the
past century.

Greenhouse gases

Main articles: Greenhouse effect, Radiative forcing, and Carbon dioxide in Earth's
atmosphere
Greenhouse effect schematic showing energy flows between space, the atmosphere, and
earth's surface. Energy exchanges are expressed in watts per square meter (W/m2).

Recent atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) increases. Monthly CO2 measurements display
seasonal oscillations in an upward trend; each year's maximum occurs during the
Northern Hemisphere's late spring, and declines during its growing season as plants
remove some atmospheric CO2.

The greenhouse effect is the process by which absorption and emission of infrared
radiation by gases in the atmosphere warm a planet's lower atmosphere and surface. It
was proposed by Joseph Fourier in 1824 and was first investigated quantitatively by
Svante Arrhenius in 1896.[32]

Naturally occurring greenhouse gases have a mean warming effect of about 33 °C


(59 °F).[33][C] The major greenhouse gases are water vapor, which causes about 36–70
percent of the greenhouse effect; carbon dioxide (CO2), which causes 9–26 percent;
methane (CH4), which causes 4–9 percent; and ozone (O3), which causes 3–7 percent.[34]
[35][36]
Clouds also affect the radiation balance, but they are composed of liquid water or
ice and so have different effects on radiation from water vapor.

Human activity since the Industrial Revolution has increased the amount of greenhouse
gases in the atmosphere, leading to increased radiative forcing from CO2, methane,
tropospheric ozone, CFCs and nitrous oxide. The concentrations of CO2 and methane
have increased by 36% and 148% respectively since 1750.[37] These levels are much
higher than at any time during the last 650,000 years, the period for which reliable data
has been extracted from ice cores.[38][39][40] Less direct geological evidence indicates that
CO2 values higher than this were last seen about 20 million years ago.[41] Fossil fuel
burning has produced about three-quarters of the increase in CO2 from human activity
over the past 20 years. Most of the rest is due to land-use change, particularly
deforestation.[42]
Over the last three decades of the 20th century, GDP per capita and population growth
were the main drivers of increases in greenhouse gas emissions.[43] CO2 emissions are
continuing to rise due to the burning of fossil fuels and land-use change.[44][45]:71 Emissions
scenarios, estimates of changes in future emission levels of greenhouse gases, have been
projected that depend upon uncertain economic, sociological, technological, and natural
developments.[46] In most scenarios, emissions continue to rise over the century, while in
a few, emissions are reduced.[47][48] These emission scenarios, combined with carbon cycle
modelling, have been used to produce estimates of how atmospheric concentrations of
greenhouse gases will change in the future. Using the six IPCC SRES "marker"
scenarios, models suggest that by the year 2100, the atmospheric concentration of CO2
could range between 541 and 970 ppm.[49] This is an increase of 90-250% above the
concentration in the year 1750. Fossil fuel reserves are sufficient to reach these levels and
continue emissions past 2100 if coal, oil sands or methane clathrates are extensively
exploited.[50]

The destruction of stratospheric ozone by chlorofluorocarbons is sometimes mentioned in


relation to global warming. Although there are a few areas of linkage, the relationship
between the two is not strong. Reduction of stratospheric ozone has a cooling influence.
[51]
Substantial ozone depletion did not occur until the late 1970s.[52] Ozone in the
troposphere (the lowest part of the Earth's atmosphere) does contribute to surface
warming.[53]

Aerosols and soot

Ship tracks over the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of the United States. The climatic
impacts from aerosol forcing could have a large effect on climate through the indirect
effect.

Global dimming, a gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the
Earth's surface, has partially counteracted global warming from 1960 to the present.[54]
The main cause of this dimming is aerosols produced by volcanoes and pollutants. These
aerosols exert a cooling effect by increasing the reflection of incoming sunlight. The
effects of the products of fossil fuel combustion—CO2 and aerosols—have largely offset
one another in recent decades, so that net warming has been due to the increase in non-
CO2 greenhouse gases such as methane.[55] Radiative forcing due to aerosols is temporally
limited due to wet deposition which causes aerosols to have an atmospheric lifetime of
one week. Carbon dioxide has a lifetime of a century or more, and as such, changes in
aerosol concentrations will only delay climate changes due to carbon dioxide.[56]

In addition to their direct effect by scattering and absorbing solar radiation, aerosols have
indirect effects on the radiation budget.[57] Sulfate aerosols act as cloud condensation
nuclei and thus lead to clouds that have more and smaller cloud droplets. These clouds
reflect solar radiation more efficiently than clouds with fewer and larger droplets.[58] This
effect also causes droplets to be of more uniform size, which reduces growth of raindrops
and makes the cloud more reflective to incoming sunlight.[59] Indirect effects are most
noticeable in marine stratiform clouds, and have very little radiative effect on convective
clouds. Aerosols, particularly their indirect effects, represent the largest uncertainty in
radiative forcing.[60]

Soot may cool or warm the surface, depending on whether it is airborne or deposited.
Atmospheric soot aerosols directly absorb solar radiation, which heats the atmosphere
and cools the surface. In isolated areas with high soot production, such as rural India, as
much as 50% of surface warming due to greenhouse gases may be masked by
atmospheric brown clouds.[61] When deposited, especially on glaciers or on ice in arctic
regions, the lower surface albedo can also directly heat the surface.[62] The influences of
aerosols, including black carbon, are most pronounced in the tropics and sub-tropics,
particularly in Asia, while the effects of greenhouse gases are dominant in the
extratropics and southern hemisphere.[63]

Solar variation

Main article: Solar variation

Solar variation over thirty years.

Variations in solar output have been the cause of past climate changes.[64] The effect of
changes in solar forcing in recent decades is uncertain, but small, with some studies
showing a slight cooling effect,[65] while others studies suggest a slight warming effect.[31]
[66][67][68]

Greenhouse gases and solar forcing affect temperatures in different ways. While both
increased solar activity and increased greenhouse gases are expected to warm the
troposphere, an increase in solar activity should warm the stratosphere while an increase
in greenhouse gases should cool the stratosphere.[31] Observations show that temperatures
in the stratosphere have been cooling since 1979, when satellite measurements became
available. Radiosonde (weather balloon) data from the pre-satellite era show cooling
since 1958, though there is greater uncertainty in the early radiosonde record.[69]

A related hypothesis, proposed by Henrik Svensmark, is that magnetic activity of the sun
deflects cosmic rays that may influence the generation of cloud condensation nuclei and
thereby affect the climate.[70] Other research has found no relation between warming in
recent decades and cosmic rays.[71][72] The influence of cosmic rays on cloud cover is
about a factor of 100 lower than needed to explain the observed changes in clouds or to
be a significant contributor to present-day climate change.[73]

Feedback
Main article: Climate change feedback

Feedback is a process in which changing one quantity changes a second quantity, and the
change in the second quantity in turn changes the first. Positive feedback increases the
change in the first quantity while negative feedback reduces it. Feedback is important in
the study of global warming because it may amplify or diminish the effect of a particular
process. The main positive feedback in global warming is the tendency of warming to
increase the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, a significant greenhouse gas. The
main negative feedback is radiative cooling, which increases as the fourth power of
temperature; the amount of heat radiated from the Earth into space increases with the
temperature of Earth's surface and atmosphere. Imperfect understanding of feedbacks is a
major cause of uncertainty and concern about global warming. A wide range of potential
feedback process exist, such as Arctic methane release and ice-albedo feedback.
Consequentially, potential tipping points may exist, which may have the potential to
cause abrupt climate change.[74]

Climate models
Main article: Global climate model

Calculations of global warming prepared in or before 2001 from a range of climate


models under the SRES A2 emissions scenario, which assumes no action is taken to
reduce emissions and regionally divided economic development.
The geographic distribution of surface warming during the 21st century calculated by the
HadCM3 climate model if a business as usual scenario is assumed for economic growth
and greenhouse gas emissions. In this figure, the globally averaged warming corresponds
to 3.0 °C (5.4 °F).

The main tools for projecting future climate changes are mathematical models based on
physical principles including fluid dynamics, thermodynamics and radiative transfer.
Although they attempt to include as many processes as possible, simplifications of the
actual climate system are inevitable because of the constraints of available computer
power and limitations in knowledge of the climate system. All modern climate models
are in fact combinations of models for different parts of the Earth. These include an
atmospheric model for air movement, temperature, clouds, and other atmospheric
properties; an ocean model that predicts temperature, salt content, and circulation of
ocean waters; models for ice cover on land and sea; and a model of heat and moisture
transfer from soil and vegetation to the atmosphere. Some models also include treatments
of chemical and biological processes.[75] Warming due to increasing levels of greenhouse
gases is not an assumption of the models; rather, it is an end result from the interaction of
greenhouse gases with radiative transfer and other physical processes.[76] Although much
of the variation in model outcomes depends on the greenhouse gas emissions used as
inputs, the temperature effect of a specific greenhouse gas concentration (climate
sensitivity) varies depending on the model used. The representation of clouds is one of
the main sources of uncertainty in present-generation models.[77]

Global climate model projections of future climate most often have used estimates of
greenhouse gas emissions from the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES).
In addition to human-caused emissions, some models also include a simulation of the
carbon cycle; this generally shows a positive feedback, though this response is uncertain.
Some observational studies also show a positive feedback.[78][79][80] Including uncertainties
in future greenhouse gas concentrations and climate sensitivity, the IPCC anticipates a
warming of 1.1 °C to 6.4 °C (2.0 °F to 11.5 °F) by the end of the 21st century, relative to
1980–1999.[2]

Models are also used to help investigate the causes of recent climate change by
comparing the observed changes to those that the models project from various natural and
human-derived causes. Although these models do not unambiguously attribute the
warming that occurred from approximately 1910 to 1945 to either natural variation or
human effects, they do indicate that the warming since 1970 is dominated by man-made
greenhouse gas emissions.[31]
The physical realism of models is tested by examining their ability to simulate current or
past climates.[81] Current climate models produce a good match to observations of global
temperature changes over the last century, but do not simulate all aspects of climate.[42]
Not all effects of global warming are accurately predicted by the climate models used by
the IPCC. Observed Arctic shrinkage has been faster than that predicted.[82] Precipitation
increased proportional to atmospheric humidity, and hence significantly faster than
current global climate models predict.[83][84]

Attributed and expected effects


Main articles: Effects of global warming and Regional effects of global warming

Global warming may be detected in natural, ecological or social systems as a change


having statistical significance.[85] Attribution of these changes e.g., to natural or human
activities, is the next step following detection.[86]

Natural systems

Sparse records indicate that glaciers have been retreating since the early 1800s. In the
1950s measurements began that allow the monitoring of glacial mass balance, reported to
the WGMS and the NSIDC.

Global warming has been detected in a number of systems. Some of these changes, e.g.,
based on the instrumental temperature record, have been described in the section on
temperature changes. Rising sea levels and observed decreases in snow and ice extent are
consistent with warming.[17] Most of the increase in global average temperature since the
mid-20th century is, with high probability,[D] attributable to human-induced changes in
greenhouse gas concentrations.[87]

Even with current policies to reduce emissions, global emissions are still expected to
continue to grow over the coming decades.[88] Over the course of the 21st century,
increases in emissions at or above their current rate would very likely induce changes in
the climate system larger than those observed in the 20th century.

In the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, across a range of future emission scenarios,
model-based estimates of sea level rise for the end of the 21st century (the year 2090-
2099, relative to 1980-1999) range from 0.18 to 0.59 m. These estimates, however, were
not given a likelihood due to a lack of scientific understanding, nor was an upper bound
given for sea level rise. Over the course of centuries to millennia, the melting of ice
sheets could result in sea level rise of 4–6 m or more.[89]

Changes in regional climate are expected to include greater warming over land, with most
warming at high northern latitudes, and least warming over the Southern Ocean and parts
of the North Atlantic Ocean.[88] Snow cover area and sea ice extent are expected to
decrease. The frequency of hot extremes, heat waves, and heavy precipitation will very
likely increase.

Ecological systems

In terrestrial ecosystems, the earlier timing of spring events, and poleward and upward
shifts in plant and animal ranges, have been linked with high confidence to recent
warming.[17] Future climate change is expected to particularly affect certain ecosystems,
including tundra, mangroves, and coral reefs.[88] It is expected that most ecosystems will
be affected by higher atmospheric CO2 levels, combined with higher global temperatures.
[90]
Overall, it is expected that climate change will result in the extinction of many species
and reduced diversity of ecosystems.[91]

Social systems

There is some evidence of regional climate change affecting systems related to human
activities, including agricultural and forestry management activities at higher latitudes in
the Northern Hemisphere.[17] Future climate change is expected to particularly affect
some sectors and systems related to human activities.[88] Low-lying coastal systems are
vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surge. Human health will be at increased risk in
populations with limited capacity to adapt to climate change. It is expected that some
regions will be particularly affected by climate change, including the Arctic, Africa,
small islands, and Asian and African megadeltas. In some areas the effects on agriculture,
industry and health could be mixed, or even beneficial in certain respects, but overall it is
expected that these benefits will be outweighed by negative effects.[92]

Responses to global warming


Mitigation

Main article: Climate change mitigation


See also: Fee and dividend

Reducing the amount of future climate change is called mitigation of climate change. The
IPCC defines mitigation as activities that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or
enhance the capacity of carbon sinks to absorb GHGs from the atmosphere.[93] Many
countries, both developing and developed, are aiming to use cleaner, less polluting,
technologies.[45]:192 Use of these technologies aids mitigation and could result in
substantial reductions in CO2 emissions. Policies include targets for emissions reductions,
increased use of renewable energy, and increased energy efficiency. Studies indicate
substantial potential for future reductions in emissions.[94] Since even in the most
optimistic scenario, fossil fuels are going to be used for years to come, mitigation may
also involve carbon capture and storage, a process that traps CO2 produced by factories
and gas or coal power stations and then stores it, usually underground.[95]

Adaptation

Main article: Adaptation to global warming

Other policy responses include adaptation to climate change. Adaptation to climate


change may be planned, e.g., by local or national government, or spontaneous, i.e., done
privately without government intervention.[96] The ability to adapt is closely linked to
social and economic development.[94] Even societies with high capacities to adapt are still
vulnerable to climate change. Planned adaptation is already occurring on a limited basis.
The barriers, limits, and costs of future adaptation are not fully understood.

Geoengineering

Another policy response is engineering of the climate (geoengineering). This policy


response is sometimes grouped together with mitigation.[97] Geoengineering is largely
unproven, and reliable cost estimates for it have not yet been published.[98]
Geoengineering encompasses a range of techniques to remove CO2 from the atmosphere
or to block incoming sunlight. As most geoengineering techniques would affect the entire
globe, the use of effective techniques, if they can be developed, would require global
public acceptance and an adequate global legal and regulatory framework.[99]

UNFCCC

Most countries are Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC).[100] The ultimate objective of the Convention is to prevent
"dangerous" human interference of the climate system.[101] As is stated in the Convention,
this requires that GHGs are stabilized in the atmosphere at a level where ecosystems can
adapt naturally to climate change, food production is not threatened, and economic
development can proceed in a sustainable fashion.

The UNFCCC recognizes differences among countries in their responsibility to act on


climate change.[102] In the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, most developed countries
(listed in Annex I of the treaty) took on legally binding commitments to reduce their
emissions.[103] Policy measures taken in response to these commitments have reduced
emissions.[104] For many developing (non-Annex I) countries, reducing poverty is their
overriding aim.[105]
At the 15th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, held in 2009 at Copenhagen, several
UNFCCC Parties produced the Copenhagen Accord.[106] Parties agreeing with the Accord
aim to limit the future increase in global mean temperature to below 2 °C.[107] The 16th
Conference of the Parties (COP16) was held at Cancún in 2010. It produced an
agreement, not a binding treaty, that the Parties should take urgent action to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions to meet the 2 °C goal. It also recognized the need to consider
strengthening the goal to a global average rise of 1.5 °C.[108]

Views on global warming


Main articles: Global warming controversy and Politics of global warming
See also: Scientific opinion on climate change and Public opinion on climate change

Per capita greenhouse gas emissions in 2000, including land-use change.

Total greenhouse gas emissions in 2000, including land-use change.

There are different views over what the appropriate policy response to climate change
should be.[109][110] These competing views weigh the benefits of limiting emissions of
greenhouse gases against the costs. In general, it seems likely that climate change will
impose greater damages and risks in poorer regions.[111]

Politics

Developed and developing countries have made different arguments over who should
bear the burden of economic costs for cutting emissions. Developing countries often
concentrate on per capita emissions, that is, the total emissions of a country divided by
its population.[112] Per capita emissions in the industrialized countries are typically as
much as ten times the average in developing countries.[113] This is used to make the
argument that the real problem of climate change is due to the profligate and
unsustainable lifestyles of those living in rich countries.[112]

On the other hand, commentators from developed countries point out that total carbon
emissions,[112] carrying capacity, efficient energy use and civil and political rights are very
important issues. World population is the number of humans per unit area. However the
land is not the same everywhere. Not only the quantity of fossil fuel use but also the
quality of energy use is a key debate point. For example, efficient energy use supporting
technological change might help reduce excess carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere. The
use of fossil fuels for conspicuous consumption and excessive entertainment are issues
that can conflict with civil and political rights. People in developed countries argue that
history has proven the difficulty of implementing fair rationing programs in different
countries because there is no global system of checks and balances or civil liberties.

The Kyoto Protocol, which came into force in 2005, sets legally binding emission
limitations for most developed countries.[103] Developing countries are not subject to
limitations. This exemption led the U.S. and Australia to decide not to ratify the treaty,[114]
[115][116]
although Australia did finally ratify the treaty in December 2007.[117] Debate
continued at the Copenhagen climate summit and the Cancún climate summit.

Public opinion

In 2007–2008 Gallup Polls surveyed 127 countries. Over a third of the world's population
was unaware of global warming, with people in developing countries less aware than
those in developed, and those in Africa the least aware. Of those aware, Latin America
leads in belief that temperature changes are a result of human activities while Africa,
parts of Asia and the Middle East, and a few countries from the Former Soviet Union
lead in the opposite belief.[118] In the Western world, opinions over the concept and the
appropriate responses are divided. Nick Pidgeon of Cardiff University said that "results
show the different stages of engagement about global warming on each side of the
Atlantic", adding, "The debate in Europe is about what action needs to be taken, while
many in the U.S. still debate whether climate change is happening."[119][120] A 2010 poll by
the Office of National Statistics found that 75% of UK respondents were at least "fairly
convinced" that the world's climate is changing, compared to 87% in a similar survey in
2006.[121] A January 2011 ICM poll in the UK found 83% of respondents viewed climate
change as a current or imminent threat, while 14% said it was no threat. Opinion was
unchanged from an August 2009 poll asking the same question, though there had been a
slight polarisation of opposing views.[122] A survey in October, 2009 by the Pew Research
Center for the People & the Press showed decreasing public perception in the United
States that global warming was a serious problem. All political persuasions showed
reduced concern with lowest concern among Republicans, only 35% of whom considered
there to be solid evidence of global warming.[123] The cause of this marked difference in
public opinion between the United States and the global public is uncertain but the
hypothesis has been advanced that clearer communication by scientists both directly and
through the media would be helpful in adequately informing the American public of the
scientific consensus and the basis for it.[124]

Other views

Most scientists accept that humans are contributing to observed climate change.[44][125]
National science academies have called on world leaders for policies to cut global
emissions.[126] However, some scientists and non-scientists question aspects of climate-
change science.[127][128]
Organizations such as the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, conservative
commentators, and some companies such as ExxonMobil have challenged IPCC climate
change scenarios, funded scientists who disagree with the scientific consensus, and
provided their own projections of the economic cost of stricter controls.[129][130][131][132] In
the finance industry, Deutsche Bank has set up an institutional climate change investment
division (DBCCA),[133] which has commissioned and published research[134] on the issues
and debate surrounding global warming.[135] Environmental organizations and public
figures have emphasized changes in the current climate and the risks they entail, while
promoting adaptation to changes in infrastructural needs and emissions reductions.[136]
Some fossil fuel companies have scaled back their efforts in recent years,[137] or called for
policies to reduce global warming.[138]

Etymology
The term global warming was probably first used in its modern sense on 8 August 1975
in a science paper by Wally Broecker in the journal Science called "Are we on the brink
of a pronounced global warming?".[139][140][141] Broecker's choice of words was new and
represented a significant recognition that the climate was warming; previously the
phrasing used by scientists was "inadvertent climate modification," because while it was
recognized humans could change the climate, no one was sure which direction it was
going.[142] The National Academy of Sciences first used global warming in a 1979 paper
called the Charney Report, it said: "if carbon dioxide continues to increase, [we find] no
reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these
changes will be negligible."[143] The report made a distinction between referring to surface
temperature changes as global warming, while referring to other changes caused by
increased CO2 as climate change.[142]

Global warming became more widely popular after 1988 when NASA scientist James
Hansen used the term in a testimony to Congress.[142] He said: "global warming has
reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and
effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and the observed warming."[144] His
testimony was widely reported and afterward global warming was commonly used by the
press and in public discourse.[142]

See also
Global Warming portal

• Glossary of climate change


• Index of climate change articles
• History of climate change science

Notes
A. ^ Increase is for years 1905 to 2005. Global surface temperature is defined in the IPCC
Fourth Assessment Report as the average of near-surface air temperature over land and
sea surface temperature. These error bounds are constructed with a 90% confidence
interval.
B. ^ The 2001 joint statement was signed by the national academies of science of Australia,
Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, the People's Republic of China, France,
Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Sweden, and the UK.
The 2005 statement added Japan, Russia, and the U.S. The 2007 statement added Mexico
and South Africa. The Network of African Science Academies, and the Polish Academy
of Sciences have issued separate statements. Professional scientific societies include
American Astronomical Society, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical
Union, American Institute of Physics, American Meteorological Society, American
Physical Society, American Quaternary Association, Australian Meteorological and
Oceanographic Society, Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences,
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, European Academy of Sciences
and Arts, European Geosciences Union, European Science Foundation, Geological
Society of America, Geological Society of Australia, Geological Society of London-
Stratigraphy Commission, InterAcademy Council, International Union of Geodesy and
Geophysics, International Union for Quaternary Research, National Association of
Geoscience Teachers, National Research Council (US), Royal Meteorological Society,
and World Meteorological Organization.
C. ^ Note that the greenhouse effect produces an average worldwide temperature increase
of about 33 °C (59 °F) compared to black body predictions without the greenhouse effect,
not an average surface temperature of 33 °C (91 °F). The average worldwide surface
temperature is about 14 °C (57 °F).
D. ^ In the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, published in 2007, this attribution is given a
probability of greater than 90%, based on expert judgement.[145] According to the US
National Research Council Report – Understanding and Responding to Climate Change -
published in 2008, "[most] scientists agree that the warming in recent decades has been
caused primarily by human activities that have increased the amount of greenhouse gases
in the atmosphere."[44]

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Further reading
• Association of British Insurers (2005–06) (PDF). Financial Risks of Climate
Change.
http://www.climatewise.org.uk/storage/610/financial_risks_of_climate_change.pd
f.
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External links

Book: Global warming


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Research

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• Climate Change at the National Academies — repository for reports
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Educational

• What Is Global Warming? — by National Geographic


• Global Climate Change Indicators - from NOAA
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• Best Effort Global Warming Trajectories – Wolfram Demonstrations Project — by
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• Koshland Science Museum – Global Warming Facts and Our Future — graphical
introduction from National Academy of Sciences
• The Discovery of Global Warming – A History — by Spencer R. Weart from The
American Institute of Physics
• Climate Change: Coral Reefs on the Edge — A video presentation by Prof. Ove Hoegh-
Guldberg, University of Auckland
• Climate Change Indicators in the United States Report by United States Environmental
Protection Agency, 80 pp.
• Global Warming
• Video on the effects of global warming on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea
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