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Global warming

Global warming and climate change are terms for the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system and its related effects. Multiple lines of scientific evidence show that the climate system is warming. Although the increase of near-surface atmospheric temperature is the measure of global warming often reported in the popular press, most of the additional energy stored in the climate system since 1970 has gone into the oceans. The rest has melted ice and warmed the continents and atmosphere. Many of the observed changes since the 1950s are unprecedented over tens to thousands of years.

Scientific understanding of global warming is increasing. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in 2014 that scientists were more than 95% certain that global warming is mostly being caused by human (anthropogenic) activities, mainly increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide (CO2). Human activities have led to carbon dioxide concentrations above levels not seen in hundreds of thousands of years. Methane and other, often much more potent, greenhouse gases are also rising along with CO2. Currently, about half of the carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels remains in the atmosphere. The rest is absorbed by vegetation and the oceans.Climate model projections summarized in the report indicated that during the 21st century the global surface temperature is likely to rise a further 0.3 to 1.7 °C (0.5 to 3.1 °F) for their lowest emissions scenario and 2.6 to 4.8 °C (4.7 to 8.6 °F) for the highest emissions scenario. These findings have been recognized by the national science academies of the major industrialized nations and are not disputed by any scientific body of national or international standing.