EGEE 102
Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection

What is Known for Certain

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Human activities change the earth's atmosphere.

Scientists know for certain that human activities are changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, like carbon dioxide (CO2), have been well documented since pre-industrial times. There is no doubt this atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is largely the result of human activities.

It's well accepted by scientists that greenhouse gases trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere and tend to warm the planet. By increasing the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, human activities are strengthening Earth's natural greenhouse effect. The key greenhouse gases emitted by human activities remain in the atmosphere for periods ranging from decades to centuries.

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A warming trend of about 1oF has been recorded since the late 19th century. Warming has occurred in both the northern and southern hemispheres, and over the oceans. Confirmation of twentieth-century global warming is further substantiated by melting glaciers, decreased snow cover in the northern hemisphere, and even warming below ground.