News / Science & Technology

The Science of Climate Change

Climate negotiators are meeting in Durban, South Africa beginning from November 28-December 9 to discuss the planet's changing climate.

The first decade of this century was the hottest on record.  

Polar ice is melting.

Global sea levels are rising.

And the vast majority of scientists attribute the changes to greenhouse gases, both natural from water vapor and man-made from burning fossil fuels, that trap heat in the lower atmosphere.  

"Since roughly the 1850s or so, we've seen an increase globally of about eight-tenths of a degree Celsius, so that's roughly 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit," said Todd Sanford, a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington.  

A one-degree difference is not noticeable in daily temperatures,  but a one-degree change in global average temperature is significant.

"One way to put that in perspective is that in the last Ice Age when there was, you know, a mile of ice above much of North America, the temperature difference between then and now was only roughly five or six degrees Celsius," Sanford said.

Alden Meyer, the director of climate strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says global warming affects weather and water cycles.

"You have increased flooding and extreme downpours combined with droughts and desertification in some regions of the world.  So there's tremendous variability here, and we're seeing that with extreme weather events on the increase, not only here in the U.S. but around the world," Meyer said.

A U.N. report shows that climate change hits poorer countries hardest.

William Orme with the United Nations Development Program explains:

"They tend to be arid, they tend to be rural, and they tend to be therefore most vulnerable to extreme weather events, drought, typhoons and deteriorating productivity of their soil resources, forest resources and fisheries," Orme said.

And global efforts to curb emissions and slow change have not helped yet. Again climate scientist Todd Sanford:

"Last year saw the largest single increase in history to the largest emissions amounts," Sanford said.     

NASA satellite evidence shows solar fluctuations have only a slight impact on global temperatures.

And while the vast majority of climate scientists agree that human activities play a role in climate change, they are not certain how that affects the planet.

Fred Singer is a well known climate change skeptic. He says there is not enough evidence to link human activities, climate change and environmental impacts.  

"Supposing the other side is wrong?  They are forcing us to make tremendous economic sacrifices which will induce poverty in the world," Singer said.

Other climate change scientists counter that argument, saying greener technologies can be viable -- environmentally and economically.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid