"Just as steroids make the baseball player stronger and increase his chances of hitting home runs, greenhouse gases are the steroids of the climate system, they increase the chances of record breaking heat to occur compared to record breaking cold."—Dr. Gerald Meehl, UCARThis is our future if don't change course, and we're already getting a taste of it....
Think of CO2 in the atmosphere as water in a bathtub. If you partly open the drain and run the tap at the same rate, the water level stays level. If you open the tap a bit more, the water level rises until it overflows.As long as we keeping pouring CO2 into the air faster than nature drains it out, the CO2 level rises and the planet warms. Even a small imbalance, over time, makes a big difference.
Since few people actually spend much time in greenhouses, perhaps we should call it 'The Parked Car Effect.' We all know what happens when you park your car in the hot sun with the windows closed. Light enters, hits the upholstery, which heats up and warms the interior air. But the heat can't escape, so the interior just gets hotter and hotter. Hot enough to kill.
The basic science of climate change is more than 150 years old. Back in 1859, Irish physicist John Tyndall predicted that winters would warm faster than summers, and nights faster than days. Now we see it borne out.
Slowing emissions of carbon dioxide is somewhat like slowing credit-card spending and expecting your debt to shrink.
Saying that CO2 is "only a trace gas" is like saying that arsenic is "only" a trace water contaminant.
Does the pre-historic lag between temperature and CO2 rise mean CO2 can't affect temperature? No. An auto turbocharger kicks in only after the engine starts, but you can't explain the car's speed without it. Similarly, in earth's past, CO2 rise kicked in following slight initial warmings, but you can't explain de-glaciation without it.
Climate change is like a train: it starts slowly, but it’s awfully hard to stop once it gains a bit of momentum.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the air is like the water level in a bathtub. If water pours in faster than it drains out, the level keeps rising.Currently we 'pour' about twice as much CO2 into the atmosphere than is "drained out" by natural processes (absorbed by oceans, plants, rocks) If we wait too long to 'turn down the tap,' some of these natural 'drains' will start to 'clog up,' making our task much harder.
‘The science behind the greenhouse effect was simple enough to have been widely understood by the mid 19th century, when the light bulb and the telephone and the automobile where being invented – and not the atomic bomb or the iPhone or the space shuttle. The greenhouse effect isn’t rock science.’ – Nate Silver, author of The Signal and the Noise, page 376.