General Article A history of climate change

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What is climate change?

The Earth’s climate is not static. Over the billions of years of Earth’s existence, it has changed many times in response to natural causes.
However, when people talk about ‘climate change’ today, they mean the changes in temperature over the last 100 years caused by human activity. During this time, the average temperature of the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface has risen by about 0.75 degrees Celsius.
Nearly all climate scientists agree that global temperatures will rise further – by how much depends on future emissions of greenhouse gases, and other human activities.
If the temperature rise is high, the impact is likely to be extreme and it will be difficult to cope with. There are likely to be more intense and frequent extreme weather events – like heatwaves, floods and tropical storms – and sea levels will rise further.

The world’s response to climate change

The first major international climate science conference was held in 1979. The conference call...

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