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Global warming - what's the big deal? The news about global warming is everywhere. It's hard to know where to turn. Find the answers about climate change that matter to moms and dads.

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CoolMom provides the answers to these frequently asked questions and busts the myths about global warming.  Our Scientific Advisory Board provides answers to these questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

WHAT IS GLOBAL WARMING?

WHY IS GLOBAL WARMING IMPORTANT TO MOMS?

WHAT ARE GREEN HOUSE GASES?

WHAT IS CAUSING GLOBAL WARMING?

 

What is global warming?

Global warming is an increase in Earth's average surface temperature. The 14 warmest years on record all occurred since 1990. 2006 is the warmest year on record, and 2007 is tied for second. The decade ending in 2007 is the warmest ever. The recent warming trend begins near the start of the industrial revolution. The most likely cause of the current warming is a dramatic increase of greenhouse gases caused by human activity, although other factors may also play a role. (See http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/earth_temp.html)

Why is global warming important to moms?

Global warming is likely to have an impact on our children’s future. The Earth has experienced major changes in the past century due to human activity. Warming this century is likely to be much greater than in the past century unless we act now to leave our children a healthy planet.  Impacts of a warmer planet on our children’s future include heat waves, disrupted water supplies, rise in sea level, more extreme rainfall events, floods and droughts, more wildfires, more intense hurricanes and stronger storm surges in coastal areas, pole-ward migration in infectious diseases (such as malaria), increases in allergenic pollens, and species extinction, among others.  Please see below for a more complete list of the effects of global warming.

What are Greenhouse Gases?

Greenhouse gases warm the earth's surface by trapping heat within the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases warm the surface of the planet by absorbing and reemitting heat. .  Some greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, while others result from human activities.  Naturally occurring greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.  They help keep our planet livable by warming the planet to a temperature (on average) above the melting point of ice (life requires liquid water).  The addition of greenhouse gases by humans is causing the earth to heat up even more.

There are many ways that humans add to the levels of naturally occurring greenhouse gases. Most important, carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere when fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), and solid waste are burned. Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from the decomposition of organic wastes in municipal solid waste landfills, and the raising of livestock. Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of solid waste and fossil fuels. Scientists are able to determine what fraction of carbon dioxide has been emitted, by burning fossil fuels and then examining the molecular weight of the gas.  Humans create greenhouse gases that don't naturally occur at all. These include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), which are generated in a variety of industrial processes.