Definition of Global Warming:
A gradual increase in the earth’s average surface temperature.
Common-usage definition: Warming caused by human activity.
Technical term for this: Anthropogenic global warming.
It’s virtually impossible that none of it is caused by people, because we know we have increased CO2 in the air from 280 to 400 ppm, and we know CO2 (sometimes called “carbon’) has a warming effect. But there’s still a very small chance that the effect is tiny. But there is no evidence that it is tiny.
U.S. Government Position: The Energy Act of 2005 states: “The President shall establish a Committee on Climate Change Technology [which] shall submit to the Secretary and the President a national strategy to promote the deployment and commercialization of greenhouse gas intensity-reducing technologies and practices.”
History: In 1896 Svante Arrhenius (1903 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) predicted the decrease in CO2 needed to cause past ice ages. He wasn’t far off, and it is not a large decrease. This helped confirm the 1859 prediction that human-produced increases in CO2 would cause just the reverse: global warming.
What’s to be done? A global problem requires a global solution, and that requires countries to cooperate. The science of games and strategies explains what leads to cooperation and what doesn’t. The basic situation—what each country does helps that country very little—is a classic game call the prisoner’s dilemma. And the prisoners do not cooperate. Unfortunately the Kyoto approach actually makes the problem worse. But a better design leads to cooperation, as explained in the Green Fund Game.
What Causes Global Warming (climate change), human activity or the sun? The final answer is not in, but you can see the results so far. (1) Exhaust is clearly the source of CO2. (2) Everyone now agrees the earth is warming. (3) Decide for yourself if warming is better explained by CO2, or the sun’s heat.
The Effects of Global Warming. We can see the long-term effects coming in the melting of polar ice and glaciers. But a powerful trend in Atlantic hurricane data indicates we can already see the impact. Katrina was partly the result of a normal weather cycle, but that cannot explain away stronger hurricanes world wide.
Can We Stop Global Warming?
It’s too late for that, but we can slow it down and lessen its effects. CO2 does not last as long in the air as was once thought, so the big problem is slowing human use of fossil energy, especially coal. (Especially since CO2 goes into the ocean and destroys coral reefs.) Here’s the latest thinking on how to reach an international agreement that would really work to stop climate change. That agreement would set a global carbon price.