Earth’s climate is naturally dynamic, but human activity is affecting it. Since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve gotten most of our energy from fossil fuels. Burning them releases gases, primarily carbon dioxide, that trap heat in the atmosphere. In the past 100 years, concentrations of this greenhouse gas have grown faster and higher than at any time in the past 850,000 years (and probably much longer), causing global average temperatures to rise. The evidence comes from abundant data collected by many sources over time. We can see it around us in the form of rising sea levels, melting polar ice caps and glaciers, changing ocean chemistry, and more severe heat waves, droughts, and storms. See a full list of Museum resources, programs, and content about climate change here.
Support for the development of Science Topics was generously provided by Sidney and Helaine Lerner, GRACE Communications Foundation.