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Global Warming Global warming is the warming near the earths surface that results when the earths atmosphere traps the suns heat The earth is getting warmer The changes are small so far but they are expected to grow and speed up Within the next fifty to one hundred years the earth may be hotter than it has been in the past million years As oceans warm and glaciers melt land and cities along coasts may be flooded Heat and drought may cause forests to die and food crops to fail Global warming will affect weather everywhere plants and animals everywhere people everywhere humans are warming the earths atmosphere by burning fuels cutting down forest and by taking part in other activities that release certain heat trapping gases into the air One major cause of global warming is the use of fossil fuels Fossil fuels like coal oil and natural gas that were formed from the remains of plant material deposited during the earths carboniferous period We have known for only a few thousand years that coal oil and natural gas can be burned to provide energy It was not until the mid-1800s however that we began to burn very large quantities of these fossil fuels It has been estimated that between 1850 and 1950 approximately sixty billion tons of fossil fuel were burned mostly in the form of coal More recently the worldwide consumption of fossil fuel has increased dramatically The world now burns at least five billion tons of fossil fuel each year This means that we are adding between fifteen and twenty billion tons of carbon dioxide to the air every twelve months As this carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels enters the atmosphere some of it is take up by photosynthesizing plants and the oceans absorb some But because we are burning so much fossil fuel at such a rapid rate we are putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster
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