Dear Amy: My teacher says that climate change is partly caused by global warming. Can you explain what this means? — Preston T., New Haven, Connecticut
Dear Preston: Global warming refers to the increase in temperatures near the Earth’s surface. The term is most often used in the context of the effect of modern human activity on global climate change, although fluctuations occurred naturally before the Industrial Revolution.
Our daily activities contribute to the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which influences rising temperatures. Driving cars, using electricity and burning fossil fuels all contribute to this release of gases, the most common of which is carbon dioxide.
How does this relate to climate change? As the Earth warms, glaciers and ice in areas such as Greenland and Antarctica will gradually melt, causing rising sea levels and flooding in coastal areas, scientists theorize. As a result, millions of people will need to move further inland in the future.
To learn more about climate change and the greenhouse effect, visit Climate Change: Basic Information, epa.gov/climatechange/basics.
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