Consequences of Warming main content.

Consequences of Warming

Part of Hall of Planet Earth.

What causes climate and climate change section of the Hall of Planet Earth. The large screen shows hurricanes. AMNH/D. Finnin
Human activity has added about 2,040 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere since 1750. In response, the planet is warming. 

Change is already visible. Severe droughts, storms and heat waves are becoming more common. Global sea level is rising as the ocean warms and ice sheets melt, leading to more coastal floods. Climate is changing and we are seeing the consequences.

How Do Impacts Progress?

Some consequences of climate change are visible now, and more are developing over time and as warming increases. Without major CO2 reductions, rising temperatures may trigger severe impacts. What could this mean over the next 100 years?

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Fingerprints of Climate Change

Because climate change can be gradual and influenced by natural as well as human causes, it is difficult to say whether a particular event was “caused” by human-induced climate change. But we can examine how the likelihood of an extreme event changes. Heat waves like the one in Europe in 2003, responsible for as many as 70,000 deaths, were rare during the last century. Unabated warming increases the odds that summers could regularly become as hot as the summer of 2003.