F ACT S HEET 1100 New York Avenue, NW Suite 710W Washington, DC Ten Key Facts: Climate Change William Fassuliotis The facts about climate change are clear: the earth is warming, man-made emissions are causing the warming, and the effects will get worse over time. For the 5 th time since it was chartered by the UN in 1988 to review and asses s the science of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a series of reports in 2013-2014 detailing the state of knowledge on climate change, including its impacts and efforts to both mitigate and adapt to it. The basics of climate change, therefor e , are solidly established. The political discourse on the issue is very different than the scientific arguments. In order to clearly show the basics that policymakers need to know, this paper lays out 10 essential facts about climate change. These are facts and are not in dispute. The Earth is Warming The Climate has always Changed - but never this rapidly in human history Today’s Warming is Due to Emissions from Fossil Fuels Sea Levels Are Rising The Arctic is Melting The Oceans are Becoming More Acidic Weather Events are Becoming more Intense Seemingly Small Changes in Temperature have Immense Consequences Climate Change Presents National Security Threats The Effects of Climate Change Will Make Life Difficult for People
2 AMERICAN SECURITY PROJECT The Evidence of Climate Change 1) The Earth is Warming • Average surface air temperatures have warmed 1.4°F since the beginning of the 20 th century, with most of that warming since the 1970s. Changes in global surface temperatures since 1880 1 • The warmest decade on record was the 2000’s, with each of the three decades before that warmer than the one before. Average temperature by decade since the 1880s 2
3 • However, measures of the increases in air temperature understate the amount of excess heat absorbed by the earth because they leave out water temperatures. The oceans, since the mid-1970s, have ab- sorbed much of the heat (chart 3). Accumulation of Global Excess Heat Since 1960 3 2) The Climate has always Changed - but never this rapidly in hu- man history • The Earth’s climate has always changed; that is not in dispute. Carbon dioxide concentration, global temperatures, and sea level have naturally varied, in close correlation with each other, over the last 400,000 years. Carbon Dioxide Concentration, Temperature Change, and Sea Level for 450,000 years 4
4 AMERICAN SECURITY PROJECT • The last 10,000 years, however, have demonstrated remarkable stability, with a slight downward trend. Global Temperature Changes Since 10,000 BC 5 • The past century has seen an abrupt shift. Temperatures are no longer stable and have increased sud- denly Global Temperature Changes the last 2000 years
5 3) Today’s Warming is Due to Emissions from Fossil Fuels • Greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide) are necessary to life as we know it; without them, the earth would lose all the sun’s heat into space. • With an increase, more of the sun’s heat is retained. As concentrations of heat-trapping gases increase,
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- Summer '17
- Global Warming, Greenhouse gas, Arctic Ocean