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C-FERST Issue Profile: Climate Change

Our Earth is warming. Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.5°F over the past century and is projected to rise another 0.5 to 8.6°F over the next hundred years. Small changes in the average temperature of the planet can translate to large and potentially dangerous shifts in climate and weather. Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in weather and climate. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, more droughts or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced big changes: oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will present challenges to our society and our environment.  Over the past century, natural and human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A number of greenhouse gases come from the combustion of fossil fuels to produce energy, although deforestation, industrial processes, and some agricultural processes also emit gases into the atmosphere.  Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around the Earth, trapping energy in the atmosphere and causing it to warm. This phenomenon is called the 'greenhouse effect', and is both natural and necessary to support life on Earth. However, the buildup of greenhouse gases can change the Earth's climate and result in dangerous effects to human health and well-being, and to ecosystems. EPA and other federal agencies are taking action to protect the health and welfare of Americans through common sense measures to reduce greenhouse gases, and by helping communities prepare for climate change.

Learn more about climate change by exploring the links below.