Introduction to Climate Change

2. Climate Change Science

The debate regarding the science of climate change has not been over the proven warming potential of gases but, rather, over how much and at what rate the planet will warm, and how such warming will affect human health and the environment. In short, our use of fossil fuels is unlocking and releasing carbon dioxide taken out of the atmosphere in prehistoric times. In all, we are releasing an estimated 6.5 billion to 8.5 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year. Carbon dioxide and NOx remain in the atmosphere and contribute to the greenhouse effect for many decades to centuries. This means that we have "banked" substantial amounts of greenhouse gases already, and any reductions taken today will not reduce the overall impact for some time.