Global Warming 101

Global Warming 101

What is global warming? Think of a blanket, covering the Earth.

When CO2 and other heat-trapping emissions are released into the air, they act like a blanket, holding heat in our atmosphere and warming the planet.

Overloading our atmosphere with carbon has far-reaching effects for people all around the world—more extreme storms, more severe droughts, deadly heat waves, rising sea levels, and more acidic oceans, which can affect the very base of the food chain.

What causes global warming? We do.

The primary cause of global warming is human activity, most significantly the burning of fossil fuels to drive cars, generate electricity, and operate our homes and businesses.

Tropical deforestation, also by human hands, is another major contributor. When these forests are burned, they release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and because the forests no longer exist, they are no longer available to absorb CO2.

Who can reduce global warming? We can.

To address global warming, we need to significantly reduce the amount of heat-trapping emissions. As individuals, we can help by being mindful of our electricity use, driving more efficient cars, reducing the number of miles we drive, and taking other steps to reduce our own consumption of fossil fuels (Read Ten Personal Solutions to Global Warming for more great suggestions).

But we can also help by calling for government and corporate decision makers to reduce the threat of global warming by:

  • Placing limits on the amount of carbon that polluters are allowed to emit.
  • Investing in clean and efficient energy technologies, industries, and approaches;
  • Expanding the use of renewable energy;
  • Increasing the efficiency of the cars we drive ;
  • Reducing tropical deforestation and wildfire risks; and
  • Taking other steps to transform our energy system to one that is cleaner and less dependent on oil, coal, and other fossil fuels.

Support Our Work.

For more than 20 years, UCS has worked with leading experts to educate U.S. decision makers and the public about global warming and implement practical solutions at an international, national, regional, and state level. You can help support this work:

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