Global warming

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Global mean surface-temperature change from 1880 to 2016, relative to the 1951–1980 mean.

Global warming, also referred to as climate change, is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system and its related effects.[1]


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Global warming is of current interest, as concerns over climate change have shifted from a focus on global cooling in the 1970s (when NASA scientists indicated global temperatures could be reduced by 3.5°C and “trigger an ice age”) to the current focus on global warming (defined as the increase in average global temperatures of 0.74±0.18°C over the last 100 years).[2] It is a major concern, as research published in the journal Science indicates global warming will lead to a "tilting" of the Earth's axis.[3]. NASA, the National Academy of Science and the UN have confirmed this warming is driven in large part by methane emitted by livestock flatulence.[4][5][6] With respect to addressing the potential effects of this global warming, NASA climate scientist James Hansen has stated "We cannot afford to put off change any longer...We have only four years left."[7]

Several prominent contributors to IPCC reports are critical of the claims of consensus on global warming. One contributor, Dr. Paul Reiter, professor of medical entomology at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France stated in testimony to the United States Senate "…such consensus is the stuff of politics, not of science. Science proceeds by observation, hypothesis and experiment. The complexity of this process, and the uncertainties involved, are a major obstacle to a meaningful understanding of scientific issues by non-scientists. In reality, a genuine concern for mankind and the environment demands the inquiry, accuracy and skepticism that are intrinsic to authentic science. A public that is unaware of this is vulnerable to abuse."[8]. Similarly, Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, indicated “Claims of consensus…serve to intimidate the public and even scientists” and are “a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by perpetual repetition.”[9]


Learning Tasks[edit]

  • What is the difference between weather and climate?
  • Snow encapsules in bubbles of the atmosphere in layers per year. This creates a climate diary of the atmosphere. If you combine this information with plants and animals living in a specific area we can estimate what climate is appropriate for the current Greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere?
  • (Risk Literacy) Why is it difficult to understand the consequences of climate change? "I am expose to 40 degrees celsius between Winter and Summer. I do not care about 2 degree temperature difference mentioned in global warming scenarios!"


  • Quizzes specifically designed to help students master Wikipedia's article on Global warming can be found at:

    How things work college course/Global warming quizzes.

See also[edit]