Climate Change Basics

97 per cent of climate scientists – almost all – agree that the earth is warming and this is caused by humans.

There are three basic facts you need to know about climate change and humanity’s role in it:

Carbon dioxide traps heat

We have known this to be true since 1859 when Irish scientist John Tyndall stuck some of the gas carbon dioxide in a tube, shone some light through it, and found that the more carbon dioxide in the tube, the higher the temperature.

The same rules apply to the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere when the sun shines through it.

Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is increasing

One of the main ways humans contribute to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is through burning fossil fuels – oil, natural gas and coal.

Burning fossil fuels has made the earth’s temperature rise and made the oceans more acid.

Back in 1895, chemist Svante Arrhenius became the first to predict rising temperature due to human additions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.


Further reading

  1. “John Tyndall (1820-1893)”. NASA Earth Observatory.
  2. James Rodger Fleming (2005). Historical Perspectives on Climate Change. Oxford University Press. pp. 69–70.
  3. R. F. Keeling, S. C. Piper, A. F. Bollenbacher and S. J. Walker “Scripps CO2 Program”.
  4. Lisa Welp and Ralph Keeling. “Now What?”. May 20, 2013. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
  5. Boden, T.A., G. Marland, and R.J. Andres. 2009. Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001.
  6. Sabine CL, Feely RA, Gruber N, Key RM, Lee K, Bullister JL, Wanninkhof R, Wong CS, Wallace DWR, Tilbrook B, Millero FJ, Peng TH, Kozyr A, Ono T, Rios AF. 2004: The Oceanic Sink for Anthropogenic CO2. Science Vol. 305. pp 367-371
  7. “Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927)”. NASA Earth Observatory.