Portal:Global warming

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Global warming

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Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and the oceans since the mid-twentieth century and its projected continuation. Global surface temperature increased 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 100 years ending in 2005. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that anthropogenic (human-sourced) greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the twentieth century, and natural phenomena such as solar variation and volcanoes probably had a small warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950 and a small cooling effect from 1950 onward. These basic conclusions have been endorsed by more than 40 scientific societies and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries.

Climate model projections summarized in the latest IPCC report indicate that global surface temperature will probably rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) during the twenty-first century. The uncertainty in this estimate arises from the use of models with differing climate sensitivity, and the use of differing estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions. Some other uncertainties include how warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe. Although most studies focus on the period up to 2100, warming is expected to continue beyond 2100, even if emissions have stopped, because of the large heat capacity of the oceans and the lifespan of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Pictured left: 1999-2008 Mean temperatures: This figure shows the difference in instrumentally determined surface temperatures between the period January 1999 through December 2008 and "normal" temperatures at the same locations, defined to be the average over the interval January 1940 to December 1980. The average increase on this graph is 0.48 °C, and the widespread temperature increases are considered to be an aspect of global warming. Source: NASA

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Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Plant Productivity in a Warming World: The past decade is the warmest on record since instrumental measurements began in the 1880s. Previous research suggested that in the '80s and '90s, warmer global temperatures and higher levels of precipitation—factors associated with climate change—were generally good for plant productivity. An updated analysis published this week in Science indicates that as temperatures have continued to rise, the benefits to plants are now overwhelmed by longer and more frequent droughts. High-resolution data from the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, indicate a net decrease in net primary production (NPP) from 2000-2009, as compared to the previous two decades. This narrated video gives an overview of NPP and the carbon cycle.

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Prim GRES.jpg
Pictured left: A coal fired power plant in Luchegorsk, Russia. A carbon tax would tax electricity production using coal.

A carbon tax is an environmental tax levied on the carbon content of fuels. It's a form of carbon pricing. Carbon is present in every hydrocarbon fuel (coal, petroleum, and natural gas) and is released as carbon dioxide (CO
2
) when they are burnt. In contrast, non-combustion energy sources—wind, sunlight, hydropower, and nuclear—do not convert hydrocarbons to CO
2
. CO
2
is a heat-trapping "greenhouse" gas. Since GHG emissions caused by the combustion of fossil fuels are closely related to the carbon content of the respective fuels, a tax on these emissions can be levied by taxing the carbon content of fossil fuels at any point in the product cycle of the fuel.

Carbon taxes offer a potentially cost-effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. From an economic perspective, carbon taxes are a type of Pigovian tax. They help to address the problem of emitters of greenhouse gases not facing the full (social) costs of their actions. Carbon taxes are a regressive tax, in that they disproportionately affect low-income groups. The regressive nature of carbon taxes can be addressed by using tax revenues to favour low-income groups.

A number of countries have implemented carbon taxes or energy taxes that are related to carbon content. Most environmentally related taxes with implications for greenhouse gas emissions in OECD countries are levied on energy products and motor vehicles, rather than on CO
2
emissions directly.

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Pictured left: Al Gore's speech on Global Warming at the University of Miami BankUnited Center, February 28, 2007.

Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. (born March 31, 1948) served as the 45th Vice President of the United States (1993–2001), under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Gore is currently an author and environmental activist. He has founded a number of non-profit organizations, including the Alliance for Climate Protection, and has received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in climate change activism.

In his senior year at Harvard University, he took a class with oceanographer and global warming theorist Roger Revelle, who sparked Gore's interest in global warming and other environmental issues. After joining the U.S. House of Representatives, Gore held the first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsor[ed] hearings on toxic waste and global warming. Gore was known as one of the Atari Democrats, later called the "Democrats' Greens: politicians who see issues like clean air, clean water and global warming as the key to future victories for their party.

Gore wrote the book An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, which won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2009. An Inconvenient Truth is a 2006 documentary film directed by Davis Guggenheim about Al Gore's campaign to educate citizens about global warming via a comprehensive slide show that, by his own estimate, Gore has given more than a thousand times. Our Choice is a 2009 book written by Gore, originally titled, which followed the An Inconvenient Truth... (book). All profits of the book (printed on 100% recycled paper) go to the Alliance for Climate Protection, which Gore founded in 2006.

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Larsen B collapse.jpg
Credit: NASA

The collapse of Larsen B Ice Shelf, showing the diminishing extent of the shelf from 1998 to 2002

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Stefano Lubiana Wines Tasmania harvest panorama.jpg
...that global warming has had a positive effect on the Tasmanian wine industry, allowing it to grow grapes more successfully then what would otherwise be possible?

(Pictured left: "Wine grape harvest at Granton Vineyard in southern Tasmania during 2010)

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