The phrase global warming is a term that has been in common usage for some time and usually refers to recent warming of Earth's atmosphere, which also implies a manmade or human influence. Each chapter of this book deals with an aspect of it, but as an introduction, here is a quick overview.
Earth's atmosphere comprises of many gases, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapour to name a few. These gases are collectively called greenhouse gases and they keep the Earth's temperature at a comfortable 15 degrees celsius, without them Earth would be a chilly minus 18 degrees Celsius.
Since pre-industrial times, usually taken to be around 1750 we know from ice core records that Co2 levels were around 280 ppm, that's 280 parts of Co2 per million parts of air. As industrialisation got underway mankind started to farm the land more intensely than ever before, deforest for agriculture and settlements, and later since around 1850 or so, the burning fossil fuels for energy and transport have added considerably to greenhouse gas levels, particularly Co2.
This has resulted in Co2 levels increasing to around 385 ppm, an increase of around 37% from pre-industrial levels mainly as a result of burning fossil fuels.
How do we know this? Well, data from ice core records that go back at least 650,000 years now show us that Co2 levels have fluctuated naturally during this time between 280 and 300 ppm. Co2 levels have also been measured accurately from the top of Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii since 1958, and results show an increase in Co2 levels from 315 ppm to 385 ppm since that time. Therefore Co2 is now at 85 ppm more than it has been for at least 650,000 years of Earth's history.
It is a known scientific fact that higher levels of greenhouse gases will lead to higher temperatures, which appears to be happening now. The world has warmed by an average of 0.74 degrees during the last 100 years or so.
As a result of this warming, polar ice has started to decrease and melt, and so are Earth's land based glaciers. This in turn is causing sea levels to rise which is putting low lying islands at risk of flooding or total submersion, and will eventually threaten more and more of the worlds coastal cities and regions.
Things may get worse though, because once Earth's atmosphere starts to warm, the warming itself may cause further positive feedback mechanisms to kick in. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapour, which is itself a powerful greenhouse gas. This will in turn cause further warming, and so on.
Melting ice means that more sunlight is absorbed by the surrounding darker water and land, meaning further warming, and more melting ice. Methane deposits currently held in a frozen but stable state under the sea and under the permafrost maybe released as the oceans warm and permafrost melts, which will cause further warming as methane is a potent greenhouse gas etc etc.
That is basically global warming in a nutshell, but is mankind really to blame for this warming? Read this book, and make up your own mind.
This book hopefully explains everything in an uncomplicated way, and looks at all the issues in much more detail, starting with the involvement of the Amazon rainforest, biofuels, carbon dioxide and so on, with each chapter relevant to the issues of global warming. Earth's historical climate is looked at, The Sun's role, the Kyoto agreement is explained, and the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) a unique panel comprised of many thousands of researchers and scientists from all over the world, are revealed.
Towards the end of the book, the consequences of global warming are looked at in terms of the weather, diseases, extinction, and importantly what the world and every human being on it can do to try and help the crisis that planet Earth and all of us are facing.
One thing is certain, no matter what mankind does to the Earth, whether it be destroy all of Earth's rainforest's, pollute the atmosphere and seas, cause unstoppable global warming, Earth will survive, as it has done for the past 4.5 billion years, and will do for billions of years into the future, it's mankind that may not.
I hope from reading this book you will learn something and become concerned enough to do something about the problem.