Our atmosphere is equivalent to a blanket of insulation that keeps global surfaces warmer than the minus 450-degree temperature of outer space.
This blanket has existed for hundreds of millions of years and keeps global surfaces warm enough for plant and animal life. By burning fossil carbon humans are increasing the insulating value of our atmosphere. As a result, global surfaces are now warming at a rate of 0.33 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.
Warmer global surfaces increase the temperature of the winds that circulate our globe and one result is more severe weather events including drought and flooding. Another effect is melting of the ice stored in glaciers, the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Caps, and on the surface of the Arctic Ocean.
To reduce this rate of warming, humans need to burn less of the fossil carbon contained in coal, gasoline, diesel, and natural gas. The key problem is how to convince humans to burn less fossil carbon. One approach is to ration the use of these fuels. Another is to apply taxes to the carbon dioxide emitted when burning fossil carbon. Another is to develop technologies that are less expensive than burning fossil carbon.
Michael F. Patterson