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What is Global Warming?

 , updated on November 16, 2016
Global warming is the observed warming of the planet's climate primarily caused by changes to the composition of the atmosphere.
source: NASA

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is a primary cause of global warming. Between 1750 and 2015, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased from 280 ppm to 400 ppm.
source: NASA

Greenhouse Gases

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, meaning that it warms the climate by a process known as radiative forcing that causes more sunlight to be absorbed by the atmosphere as opposed to being reflected back into space. Other greenhouse gases such as methane also contribute to global warming.


Global warming may cause a large scale environmental disaster and a downward shift in human quality of life on a global basis. It could threaten political stability and basic economic processes such as food production.


Global warming is solvable from a technical perspective. The problem is primarily with political agreement to do it. It is possible to create energy without changing the composition of the air. It is also possible to capture carbon dioxide from the air in a stable and useful format.
Overview: Global Warming
TypeEnvironmental Issue
DefinitionThe increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to rising levels of greenhouse gases.
Source: Erik M. Conway, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Related ConceptsHyperbolic Growth
Law Of Holes
Environmental Issues


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Adaptive Reuse
Broken Window Fallacy
Carbon Concrete
Cascading Failure
Circular Economy
CO2 Per Capita
Coal Power
Comparative Risk
Creeping Normality
Cultural Lag
Deep Water Cooling
Disaster Preparedness
District Heating
Do No Harm
Do Nothing Farming
Dollar Voting
Economic Bad
Electric Boat
Embodied Energy
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Environmental Justice
Environmental Problems
Existential Risk
Farm Robots
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Global Change
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Green Facade
Green Facades
Green Industry
Green Roof
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Happiness Index
High-Speed Rail
Human Scale
Jevons Paradox
Keyhole Garden
Land Footprint
Light Pollution
Living Street
Market Failure
Missing Market
Moral Hazard
Natural Capital
Natural Resources
Nearly Car Free
Noise Pollution
Ocean Plastic Cleanup
Outside Context Problem
Passive Design
Point Of No Return
Precautionary Principle
Product Transparency
Quality Of Life
Race To The Bottom
Rainwater Harvesting
Resilient Cities
Safety By Design
Slow Design
Slow Movement
Smart Glass
Social Responsibility
Soft Engineering
Sunlight Transport
Sustainable Design
Sustainable Economics
Sustainable Lighting
Sustainable Materials
Tactical Urbanism
Urban Density
Urban Design
Urban Heat Island
Waste Is Food
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