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What Are the Effects of Global Warming? A Deep Dive Into Climate Change

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Thanks to environmentalist icon (and newly crowned Person of the Year) Greta Thunberg, people in the United States are talking about global warming, the effects of global warming, and climate change more than ever before. While we’re not totally where we need to be yet, we can all agree that conversations about global warming and climate change are a positive step in the right direction.

While you may already know that the effects of global warming are bad and that climate change will inevitably lead to crisis (if we’re not there already), you may be wondering what the in-depth effects of global warming actually are. You know it’s bad, but how bad is it, right?

According to the NRDC, global warming can be best defined by the way in which “the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history” over the past 50 years. In short, the average temperature of the planet is getting hotter — in fact, fifteen of the hottest years have occurred since 2000, according to NASA.

Also known as climate change, global warming is a direct result of global-warming emissions, or greenhouse gases, entering our atmosphere. Global warming happens when carbon dioxide and other pollutants (also known as greenhouse gases) “collect in our atmosphere, absorb sunlight and solar radiation that bounce off the surface of the earth,” according to the NRDC. Without the collected presence of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, the radiation would typically leave our atmosphere and go off into space. But with all the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it has the opposite effect. The pollutants actually trap the heat from the radiation, and this is exactly what causes the average global temperature to warm. It’s called the greenhouse effect. Keep reading for a more in-depth look of the results of the greenhouse effect.

What Are Global Warming’s Effects on the Environment?

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As the planet warms, this rise in average global temperature can have some disastrous effects on our planet. Global warming can cause extreme weather events such as droughts, more intense heat waves, heavier rainfall, and hurricanes and tropical storms more powerful than ever before. Global warming is bad for all areas and climates, but it is particularly concerning for colder areas. The NRDC says Antarctica, for example, has been losing about 134  billion metric tons of ice per year since 2002.