Greenhouse gas concentrations

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  • Global warming is the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans since the late 19th century and its projected continuation. Since the early 20th century, Earth's average surface temperature has increased by about 0.8 °C, with about two thirds of the increase occurring since 1980. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and scientists are more than 90% certain that most of it is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.

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  • Water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas, the most important gaseous source of infrared opacity in the atmosphere. As the concentrations of other greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, increase because of human activity, it is centrally important to predict howthewater vapor distribution will be affected. To the extent that water vapor concentrations increase in a warmer world, the climatic effects of the other greenhouse gases will be amplified.

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  • Information about climate1 is used to make decisions every day. From farmers deciding which crops to plant next season to mayors in large cities deciding how to prepare for future heat waves, and from an insurance company assessing future flood risks to a national security planner assessing future conflict risks from the impacts of drought, users of climate information span a vast array of sectors in both the public and private spheres. Each of these communities has different needs for climate data, with different time horizons (see Box 1) and different tolerances for uncertainty...

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  • China stands front and center in the congressional debate on climate change, due to that nation’s contribution to global emissions and competitiveness in global trade. With its large population, rapidly expanding economy, and heavy reliance on coal, China now shares the lead in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the United States. China’s GHG emissions are expected to continue growing in the years ahead based on projections of continuing rapid economic growth.

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  • The Animal Production and Health Section of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture recognises that the trend towards intensification of livestock production in developing countries presents both opportunities and challenges. The potential opportunities are the flow-on benefits to the producers and local economy while the potential challenges are the flow-on costs to the environment, animal health and welfare.

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  • By inadvertently increasing the concentration of energy-trapping gases in the lower atmosphere, human actions have begun to amplify Earth’s natural green- house effect. The primary challenge facing the world community is to achieve sufficient reduction in greenhouse gas emissions so as to avoid dangerous inter- ference in the climate system. National governments, via the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), are committed in principle to seeking this outcome.

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