Officials from across the world are gathered in Paris, France, to try to hammer out a deal to tackle global warming. Here’s what we know and don’t know about the Earth’s changing climate.
What is climate change?
The planet’s climate has constantly been changing over geological time. The global average temperature today is about 15 degrees C, though geological evidence suggests it has been much higher and lower in the past.
However, the current period of warming is occurring more rapidly than many past events. Scientists are concerned that the natural fluctuation, or variability, is being overtaken by a rapid human-induced warming that has serious implications for the stability of the planet’s climate.
What is the “greenhouse effect”?
The greenhouse effect refers to the way the Earth’s atmosphere traps some of the energy from the Sun. Solar energy radiating back out to space from the Earth’s surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases and re-emitted in all directions.The energy that radiates back down to the planet heats both the lower atmosphere and the surface. Without this effect, the Earth would be about 30 degrees C colder, making our planet hostile to life.
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Via: BBC News