What is Global Warming?

global warming sign
The effects of global warming are destroying
natural habitats all over the world.

Global warming is a topic that is never free from debate, whether you have heard about it by this main buzz word or in relation to others such as 'the greenhouse effect' or even 'climate change' as it is more commonly referred to these days, it is something that never fails to spark controversy when spoken about.

But what is global warming and is global warming real? This site provides a comprehensive guide to the subject of global warming and covers all areas including global warming causes and effects, a wealth of global warming information, as well as a global warming definition and details of the greenhouse gases that are responsible for the change in the earth's climate.

Is global warming real?

First things first, in order for us to talk about the subject, or problem if you like, we first need to acknowledge that it is genuine and science proves that global warming is real. I can assure you that global warming is something that is very real and is brought on by a natural process known as 'greenhouse effect' that sees both natural and man-made gases released into the earth's atmosphere, subsequently causing the planet to heat up. This natural phenomenon helps to sustain life on earth such as plants, animals and even us humans.

However, the big debate that has gone on in the world for years and continues to go on now is how much human activity has accelerated this natural process by causing more of these natural gases and also some unnatural ones too. These gases are know as greenhouse gases and are discussed in further detail on our what are greenhouse gases page. Depending on who you speak to will depend on the opinion of how much of an issue global warming is, material fact shows that it is real but scientists have one opinion on it where as climatologists another when it comes to how much of a threat it is and what, or who, is most responsible for it, man or nature? So in short the answer to the question 'is global warming real?' is a definite 'yes'!

Now that we have concluded that global warming is real we are now going to explain what global warming is in depth.

What is global warming?

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So the key question if you are on this page is 'what is global warming?'. Global warming is what happens when the temperature of the earth increases. This temperature increase is something that happens naturally, although it is also contributed to by human activity. The natural process that leads to global warming is called 'the greenhouse effect' and this is where gases in the atmosphere such as methane and carbon dioxide build up and retain heat from the sun in the atmosphere, therefore increasing the overall temperature of the earth. This process is called the greenhouse effect and is necessary for the survival of all life on our planet. Due to a larger increase of average global temperatures people are pointing at human activity for speeding up this process to a degree that is deemed unsafe, evidence of this is the melting of the polar icecaps and subsequent rises in sea levels. The gases in question are produced naturally but also by humans too, the big question is how much effect the amount that humans create has had already and will have in the future. For more information take a look at our 'what causes global warming?' page.

Many people think that global warming and the green house effect are the same thing but this is not the case, the green house effect is the process that occurs naturally and this leads to global warming and climate change.

The natural process that leads to global warming sees the sun radiate heat to the earth, some of the heat will make it to the earth and warm it up, some will bounce of the clouds in the atmosphere back into space, a certain amount of heat will be reflected from the earth back up into the atmosphere where it will be retained by the natural gases that we have mentioned, and some will just go back out into space past the atmosphere. This 'greenhouse effect' as it is known, heats the earth enough to cater for the needs of all of life on earth and has done for as long as life has been here. The reason global warming is deemed as such an issue is because the more of the gases that are produced by man the more there will be in the atmosphere and this upsets the natural balance, retains more heat and makes the earth warmer. In a nutshell that is what global warming is.

There is further global warming information and diagram examples on our global warming definition page.

Global warming causes and effects

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As we have explained above when talking about what global warming is, the cause of global warming is both natural and man-made, ideally plants and animals would release and regulate a sufficient amount of these natural gases to keep the climate at a sufficient temperature. However, man has interfered here by taking away plants and trees and adding factories and machinery that adds more of the gases that cause global warming. So this means that there are less plants and trees to regulate the gases but more of the gases to regulate! With this in mind it is hard to believe that mankind does not significantly contribute to the global warming issue.

When we talk about global warming causes and effects we often mention the cause of global warming is the gases that retain the heat, but which gases are these exactly? Below is a list of the natural gases in question:

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Water vapor
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Methane
  • Ozone

These gases are commonly referred to as greenhouse gases and the more of them that are released into the atmosphere the more heat is going to be trapped there and the warmer the earth will be come as a result of this induced greenhouse effect. There are also other gases that are responsible for this and these are produced from human activity, for more information see our green house gases page.

So what does global warming mean to us? We have a whole page dedicated to the effects of global warming but below is a brief list of what these are:

  • As we have already mentioned when talking about global warming causes and effects, there has been and continues to be an increase in the average temperatures of our planet.
  • The polar ice caps are melting and this in turn leads to a rise in sea levels causing flooding and coastal damage to many countries.
  • An increase in temperature has meant an increase in water temperature which has and will continue to lead to extreme weather systems such as hurricanes.
  • In the hottest areas of the world such as Africa there will be droughts, this leads to problems with food and water and causes humanitarian issues.
  • Economic issues will be causes by the previous two points, weather systems causing damage and droughts leading to famine and civil unrest.
  • Temperature changes can lead to animals and insects migrating to other areas and they can take disease with them, for example if mosquitoes migrate from Africa they can bring malaria to other areas of the world.

The above are just a few of the many global warming effects but enough to help you recognise just how serious the problem is and what global warming means to the world as a whole.

More information

There is so much more to our site than just the answer to the main question 'what is global warming?', please take the time to look at all of the global warming information that we have on offer, pages with a more in depth explanation as to global warming causes and effects that will be able to show you further still that when asking yourself 'is global warming real?' the answer is a definite 'yes'. We also provide you with information on some of the causes of global warming such as deforestation and help you out with some ideas on how to reduce your carbon footprint.

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