The Science: Rising temperatures

Worldwide Warming:

  • CO2 and other greenhouse gasses act as a kind of planetary thermostat, and our current CO2 level is higher than at any time at least the last 400,000 years—and rising. This means that the Earth's planetary thermostat is stuck in the "on" position. Given these facts, we'd expect temperatures on Earth to be rising, and this is precisely what is happening now. And that is what global warming is all about.
  • Over the past 100 years, the average temperature on Earth has risen by over a full degree Fahrenheit. 1 degree might not sound like much but keep in mind the Earth's average temperature had been 57 degrees. If your body temperature was raised by the same proportion, you would have a temperature of over 100 degrees. The Earth is sick with a fever.
  • Science tells us that global warming is very real and is getting worse:
  • The 1980's were the hottest decade on record...until the 1990's.
  • The 1990's were the warmest decade in at least 1,000 years.
  • 2003 was the 2nd hottest year ever recorded.
  • The five hottest years on record all have occurred since 1997, and the 10 hottest since 1990.
  • The planet is now warming faster than at any time in the last 10,000 years....and the rate of change is accelerating.

Worldwide Deglaciation:

  • Glaciers are receding increasingly rapidly worldwide. Many glaciers are now melting 10 times more quickly than a decade ago.
  • Hemingway's "Snows of Kilimanjaro" will be gone within less than 15 years.
  • The United Nations Environmental Program reports that Himalayan glaciers are retreating faster than anywhere on earth.
  • The Khumbu Glacier has retreated 5 kilometers since Sir Edmund Hillary made the first ascent of Mt. Everest in 1950.
  • The U.N. estimates that Himalayan glaciers may be completely gone within 35 years.
  • The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that 1/3 to 1/2 of all glaciers on earth will have disappeared completely by the end of this century.

Rising CO2 Levels & The Enhanced Greenhouse Effect:

  • Largely due to the burning of fossil fuels, we are releasing an excessive amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and the Earth's temperature is rising in proportion to the increased concentrations of CO2. The Earth's temperature is going up, and this simple fact is having a profound impact on our global climate.
  • CO2 and other greenhouse gasses acts as a kind of planetary thermostat, Our current CO2 level is the higher than at any time in the last 400,000 years—and rising —it means that the Earth's planetary thermostat is stuck in the "on" position. Given these facts, we'd expect temperatures on Earth to be rising, and this is precisely what is happening now. And that is what global warming is all about.
  • Every year of the 1990's was among the top 15 warmest years ever recorded. And temperatures continue to climb.
  • 2002 was the 2 nd hottest year ever recorded, and temperatures continue to rise.

To cite a few troubling statistics:

  • The 1980s were the warmest decade on record....until the 1990's
  • The 1990s were the hottest decade in the past 1000 years
  • The planet is now warming faster than at any time in the last 10,000 years....and the rate of change is accelerating.

Anarctic Warming:

  • Near the Earth's South Pole, temperatures on the Antarctic peninsula have risen 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 50 years. Rocks that used to be covered with 600 meters of ice for 20,000 years now poke through the peninsula surface.
  • The late 1990's witnessed the complete collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf—an area larger than the state of Rhode Island . The trend appears to be accelerating, in the summer of 2002, scientists were staggered by the size and speed of the collapse of the 12,000-year-old Larsen B ice shelf. This 3,250 square kilometer shelf—containing 700 billion tons of ice—disintegrated in just 35 days.
  • Over the past 50 years, Six of the nine Antarctic peninsula 's ice shelves have disintegrated.

Warmer Oceans, Less Plankton & Ecosystem Collapse:

  • Warmer temperatures threaten the ocean's phytoplankton. Microscopic phytoplankton is the base of the oceanic food chain. Less phytoplankton means less food for other species, and a loss of plankton invariably means fewer fish and sea birds.
  • A 2002 NASA satellite study reveals that, because of warmer temperatures, phytoplankton levels have plummeted worldwide. The greatest declines are in the Northern Pacific Ocean where summer plankton levels have dropped 30% since the 1980s. The loss of plankton due to warmer temperatures creates a domino effect that can destroy whole ecosystems.
  • The entire 900 mile Aleutian island ecosystem appears to be collapsing as a loss of plankton has created a domino effect leading to a decline in the sea lion population, causing orca whales to consume an excessive number of sea otters, which led to an explosion in the sea urchin population, causing a loss of kelp beds along with the fish populations that had lived there. With the loss of plankton, the ecosystem's entire food chain had completely unraveled. As recently as the 1980s, over 100,000 otters inhabited these islands. Today there are only about 6,000 remaining. Between 1992 and 2000, the Aleutian Island otter population dropped 70%, a rate of decline that is unprecedented for any mammal population anywhere—a rate of decline that other mammals might be wise to ponder.
  • While the Aleutian Islands may be geographically isolated, there is nothing isolated about the island chains' devastating experience with global warming. Another 2002 satellite study reveals that Southern Californian zooplankton had dropped 70% since the 1970s. The catastrophic results to Southern California 's oceanic ecosystem are sadly predictable.
  • To make matters worse, through photosynthesis, plankton removes as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as do the Earth's forests. Less phytoplankton in the oceans means more heat-trapping carbon remains in the atmosphere. The failing brakes on global warming just got that much worse.

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