In the recent past there has been debate over the extent and causes of rising global temperatures. Some argued it was a natural fluctuation whilst others that it was caused by human activity.
It is now a certainty that increased levels of so-called ‘greenhouse gases’ in the atmosphere, in particular carbon dioxide and methane, are the result of human activity. These increased levels are resulting in a rise in the average global temperature, with subsequent alteration to weather patterns. This is climate change.
Climate change is having an impact on all regions of the world. However, wealthy and industrialised nations are able to cope with the impacts more readily than poorer nations where the effects are more harshly felt. It is ironic that the industrialised nations, who produce most of the greenhouse gases, are less affected by climate change than the poorer, non-industrialised nations.
The issues are complex, and there are areas of uncertainty. For example, will climate change be gradual and little-by-little or will there be ‘tipping points’ that cause dramatic and sudden changes? However, the overall message is that the Earth’s climate is changing.
The pages in this section look at examples and expore the relationship between carbon dioxide levels and global warming.