change in climate over a widespread area that takes place so
rapidly and unexpectedly that human and natural systems have
difficulty adapting. Although not considered a high probability,
an abrupt climate change occurs on the scale of decades, rather
than centuries, and persists for years. Global warming has
been suggested as a plausible trigger for abrupt climate change.
gaseous envelope or layers surrounding the earth’s surface. It
contains roughly 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% argon, with trace
amounts of other gases including the significant greenhouse gases
of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The atmosphere
absorbs solar radiation and serves to moderate surface temperature
and recycles water and other chemicals.
The variety of organisms found within a specified geographic
CO2 is a colorless, odorless, non-poisonous gas that is
a normal part of the ambient air. Human activities such as
fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, and the burning of wood and
paper products have increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2
by approximately 30 percent since the industrial revolution.
The long-term averages and statistics of atmospheric and surface
variables including temperature, precipitation, wind, storm
patterns, humidity, sea surface temperature and the concentration
and thickness of sea ice. Climate is not the same as
weather which is a short-term phenomenon.
Refers to changes in longer-term trends in the average climate,
such as changes in average temperatures, precipitation, wind,
storm patterns, humidity, sea surface temperature and the
concentration and thickness of sea ice. Climate change
refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural
variability or as a direct or indirect result of human activity.
Refers to changes in atmospheric and surface patterns, such as
precipitation and temperatures in the weather and climate.
the removal and
destruction of native forests and woodlands. Among other
things, deforestation increases harmful soil erosion, adversely
affects natural stream and rivers, and damages biodiversity.
Deforestation is considered one of the major causes of global
warming as living trees would usually remove CO2 from the
atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. It is
estimated that one-fifth (1/5) of all global emissions result from
deforestation and changed land use.
A community of organisms and its physical environment.
The release of substances (e.g., greenhouse gases) into the
Effect: The increase in the natural greenhouse effect
which results from changes in atmospheric concentrations of
greenhouse gases due to emissions from human activities.
The progressive gradual rise of the Earth's average surface
temperature thought to be caused in part by increased
concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
A system of multipliers which have been devised to enable
warming effects of different gases to be compared.
The insulating effect of atmospheric greenhouse gases (e.g., water
vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.) that keeps
the Earth's temperature about 60°F warmer than it would be
Any gas that contributes to the "greenhouse effect."
There are six major greenhouse gases recognized by the Kyoto
Protocol, but the three major greenhouse gases considered most
pertinent to global warming are carbon dioxide, methane, and
unsolicited commercial mail (1950-55).
An international agreement adopted in 1997 in
which establishes binding emission targets for developed countries
that would reduce their emissions. The Kyoto Protocol has
been signed by 141 industrialized and developed nations including
those in Europe. The Bush Administration has
steadfastly refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol despite the fact
that the United States which has a relatively small percentage
(4%) of the worldwide population yet produces over 25% of all
harmful greenhouse gases on earth.
are engineered areas where solid waste is placed into the land.
CH4 is a colorless, flammable gas produced by natural
processes, but there are also substantial emissions from human
activities such as landfills, livestock and livestock wastes,
natural gas and petroleum systems, coal mines, rice fields, and
wastewater treatment. CH4 has a warming effect
approximately 23 times that of CO2. Municipal
solid waste landfills are the largest source of human-related
methane emissions in the United States.
Municipal Solid Waste:
is commonly known
as common trash or garbage and includes such everyday items such
as paper, product packaging, lawn clippings, bottles, and
Nitrous Oxide (N2O):
N2O is a colorless, non-flammable potent greenhouse gas
produced by natural processes also, but there are also substantial
causal emissions from human activities such as deforestation,
agriculture, trash burning and fossil fuel combustion.
Nitrous oxide has a very high global warming potential.
Any process or activity that results in the net release of
greenhouse gases, aerosols, or precursors of greenhouse gases into
The region of the Earth's atmosphere 10-50 km above the surface of
Expansion of a substance as a result of the addition of heat.
In the context of climate change, thermal expansion of the world's
oceans in response to global warming is considered the predominant
driver of current and future sea-level rise.
In the context of
climate change, the time threshold when global warming would
continue to occur even if greenhouse gas emissions were completely
halted immediately worldwide.
The region of the earth’s atmosphere 8-15 km above the planet’s
Water Vapor (H2O):
Water vapor is the primary gas responsible for the greenhouse
effect. It is believed that increases in temperature caused
by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases will increase the
amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, resulting in additional
Describes the short-term (i.e., hourly, daily, weekly)
state of the atmosphere and surface conditions. Weather is
not the same as climate which is a long-term phenomenon.
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Code of Federal Regulations, Code of Federal Regulations, United
Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute, FindLaw,
United States Dep’t of the Treasury, Federal Trade Commission,
United States General Accounting Office,Bureau,
Dep’t of Banking, Insurance, Securities & Health Care
https://www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx, Privacy Rights
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National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), World
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Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club, Environmental Action,
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