The Basics

The scientific community has reached a strong consensus regarding the science of global climate change. The world is undoubtedly warming. This warming is largely the result of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from human activities including industrial processes, fossil fuel combustion, and changes in land use, such as deforestation. 

Continuation of historical trends of greenhouse gas emissions will result in additional warming over the 21st century. Current projections point to a global increase of 2.0°F to 11.5°F (1.1°C to 6.4°C) by 2100, with warming in the U.S. expected to be even higher. This warming will have real consequences for the United States and the world, for with that warming will also come additional sea-level rise that will gradually inundate coastal areas and increase beach erosion and flooding from coastal storms, changes in precipitation patterns, increased risk of droughts and floods, threats to biodiversity, and a number of potential challenges for public health. 

Most projections of future impacts do not address what could happen if warming continues beyond 2100, which is inevitable if steps to reduce emissions are not taken, or if the rate of change accelerates. Furthermore, the longer warming persists and the greater its magnitude, the greater the risk of climate “surprises” such as abrupt or catastrophic changes in the global climate. Even if we are able to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, some further warming is unavoidable. We must plan and take action now to adapt to the changes we will face as our climate changes.

Addressing climate change is no simple task. To protect ourselves, our economy, and our land from the adverse effects of climate change, we must ultimately dramatically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

To achieve this goal we must fundamentally transform the way we power our global economy. This demands shifting away from a century’s legacy of unrestrained fossil fuel use and its associated emissions in pursuit of more efficient and renewable sources of energy. Such a transformation will require society to engage in a concerted effort, over the near- and long-term, to seek out opportunities and design actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions seeks to educate key policy-makers and the public about the causes and potential consequences of climate change and to assist the domestic and international communities in developing practical and effective solutions to this important environmental challenge. The Basics section of the web site provides introductory information on climate change, including fundamental facts and data on climate change, analysis of the science behind climate change, frequently asked questions about climate change, and a glossary.