Full Glossary Index
An increase in the earth’s average atmospheric temperature that causes corresponding changes in climate and that may result from the greenhouse effect.
The impacts of climate change are only beginning to be felt. Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are at their highest in 650,000 years. Oceans are becoming warmer and more acidic, and the population of zooplankton, the basis of the marine food chain, has dropped 73 percent since 1960. Natural habitats everywhere are under threat, the cloud forests of the Andes, the grasslands of the Asian steppe, ‘the lowland rain-forests of the Amazon, and the entire arid belt of the sub-Sahara from the Horn of Africato the Atlantic shores of Mauritania. Half the coral reefs of the world either have died or are on the edge of collapse. The largest known insect infestation in the history of North America has destroyed millions of ‘ hectares of forest in the western United States, more than 130,000 square kilometers of lodgepole pine in British Columbia alone, and has now spread to Alberta to threaten the arboreal forests of the Subarctic. In the Pacific and Indian oceans, island nations such as the Maldives, faced with the possibility of dramatic increases in sea level, have made contingency plans for the evacuation of their entire populations.