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Energy & Environment

One Degree Warmer? Big Deal!

In any one place, the temperature can change by many degrees from day to day, or even hour to hour. A one degree change in the average global temperature, however, is huge: "A one-degree global change is significant because it takes a vast amount of heat to warm all the oceans, atmosphere, and land by that much. In the past, a one- to two-degree drop was all it took to plunge the Earth into the Little Ice Age. A five-degree drop was enough to bury a large part of North America under a towering mass of ice 20,000 years ago." (From http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/decadaltemp.php.)

How We Know Humans Are Causing Climate Change

Global warming skeptics often acknowledge that the globe is warming, but deny evidence that humans are the cause. However, satellite and other data show definitively that less heat is escaping into space, that more heat is returning to earth, and that this is happening precisely at the wavelengths where greenhouse gases are increasing. This is proof that the greenhouse effect is strengthening due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Record Snows Due to... Global Warming?!

There are two mechanisms making our winters more variable, with heavier snows. The first reason we have gotten record snowfalls because warmer oceans are evaporating more water, at the same time that warm air holds more water. In fact, the amount of water held increases exponentially as the air warms. When this wet air moves over land during winter, the result is unusually heavy snowfall. The Washington, DC area, for example, would expect a 16+ inch snowfall once every 25 years. In the Winter of 2009-10 it got two in one season, not to mention the ones in 1996 and 2003!

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