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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs