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Q: What is the link between fossil fuels, global warming and climate change ?
A: The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which acts like a blanket around the Earth. It prevents some of the sunlight that reflects from the planet surface from leaving the Earth, and so warms the planet instead. This warming of the land and the sea and the air, radically affects the climate. It creates larger storms more frequently, acidifies the ocean and most importantly it causes land-based ice to melt and so raises the level of the sea worldwide. Obviously the raising of sea level worldwide is a problem for hundreds of millions of people living in cities that are at or near to sea level, where they have been built historically for good reasons of access and trade.
Q: How is it that temperature goes down when scientists say that there is global warming ?
A: The temperature can go up or down over any short period of time, because of the complicated drivers of global warming, but over a longer period of time the average temperature of the Earth is going up. This warming is caused both by human burning of fossil fuels and also by the natural climate cycle of the Earth. Unfortunately, at the current time the natural climate cycle of the Earth is also in a warming phase and so adds to the effect of global warming from the burning of fossil fuels.
Q: How is it that in the graphs of carbon dioxide concentration and temperature over the past 400,000 years, that the rise in temperature leads the increase in concentration of carbon dioxide ?
A: It is because the irregular orbit of the Earth around the Sun was responsible for a slight warming initially, and thereafter increasing carbon dioxide concentration is warming the Earth.
Q: How much will the sea level rise as the planet gets warmer.
A: It’s difficult to say exactly, but the last time that the average temperature of the Earth was 2C warmer than it is now, the sea level worldwide was about 5 metres higher.