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Global Climate Change

  • By: Kent Hurst
  • In: Green Politics: An A-to-Z Guide
  • Edited by: Dustin Mulvaney & Paul Robbins
  • Subject:Environmental Sociology, Environmental Technology, Policy & Management, Environmental Policy & Law (general)

Since the onset of the industrial revolution (c.1750), human activities have altered the atmospheric composition of the Earth, significantly impacting the terrestrial energy balance. The burning of fossil fuels has substantially increased the amount of particulate matter and concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs), most notably carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), into the atmosphere. The overall impact of human industrial activities on global climate has been a pronounced warming effect, as GHG increases have enhanced the atmospheric greenhouse effect and reduced the amount of outgoing radiation from the Earth. Although global climate change occurs with natural process (e.g., volcanic eruptions, insolation variability), the rate of change is much slower, occurring over millennia rather than the rapid anthropogenic induced climate changes observed over ...

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