The world's energy economy rests largely on the combustion of fossil fuel. It is now recognized that carbon dioxide (CO2), the product of this combustion, accumulates in the global atmosphere and that this incremental CO2 exerts a warming influence on Earth's climate. Although the magnitude of increase in global mean temperature and other consequences of this incremental CO2 are still quite uncertain, it seems inevitable that continued increases in the rate of fossil fuel combustion will lead to major changes in global climate that would have profound and lasting effects on the global environment and on human society. This talk reviews the key elements of this CO2-induced global warming: the sources and sinks of atmospheric CO2, the influence of incremental CO2 and of other changes in atmospheric composition on Earth's radiation balance and on temperature, sea level rise and its possible consequences, and the uncertainties associated with present understanding. It is hoped that understanding of these phenomena and their causes would contribute to informed decision making on energy policy.
This page was last updated 2007-11-13.
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