News & Blogs
Global Warming and Climate Change: The Weather Company Stand
The phenomenon of global warming is just one aspect of climate change, which is any long-term variation in the state of Earth’s climate. People frequently ask whether global warming is real, whether humans are causing it, and what the future may bring. Our stand on global warming and climate change aligns with our corporate mission to instill confidence, drive decisions and propel the world. Specifically, it reflects:
- Our commitment to the highest standards of science
- Our mission to educate the public about environmental science, including climate change
- Our responsibility to work with our clients to meet today’s needs and anticipate tomorrow’s challenges
Earth’s climate is indeed warming. Global surface temperature has increased by around 1.8°F (1.0°C) since the late 1800s. More than half of this increase has occurred since the 1970s, and every decade since then has been warmer than the one before it.
Major changes in global climate have occurred throughout our planet's history – long before humans could possibly have been a factor. Researchers overwhelmingly agree that the main cause of recent global warming is the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere (primarily carbon dioxide) through the burning of fossil fuels. Greenhouse gases warm the climate by allowing sunlight to reach Earth but absorbing radiation from Earth before it escapes to space. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased every year for more than 60 years; it is now about 30% greater than it was in the 1950s.
Some impacts of our warming climate are global. This includes sea level, which is rising around the world as glaciers melt and the oceans warm and expand. Other effects of global warming vary by region and season. Temperatures are rising especially fast in the Arctic, where the rapid loss of sea ice and thawing of permafrost has major implications for people, wildlife and ecosystems.
Global warming affects moisture as well as temperature. As our warming climate causes more water to evaporate from the oceans, the heaviest rains and snows are becoming even heavier in many parts of the world. Meanwhile, higher temperatures exacerbate the impacts of drought by pulling more moisture from already-dry soils and plants.
Extreme weather events such as tornadoes and tropical cyclones have a great deal of natural variation, so it is more difficult to establish how they may be affected by climate change in the coming years and decades. This continues to be an active area of research.
The amount of climate change in our future depends largely on how much additional greenhouse gas is added to the atmosphere. We will need to adapt to some changes that are already “baked into the system.” More extreme changes may be avoidable to the extent that the growth in greenhouse emissions can be reduced.
Research cannot tell us how quickly society will act to cut greenhouse emissions. However, research can help reduce some of our other uncertainties around climate change, as scientists unravel more of the complexity in our sun/earth/ocean/atmosphere system.
Along with governments and other institutions, The Weather Company works to enhance public safety, to instill confidence, and to reduce our vulnerability to weather extremes. We know that people are more inclined to take life-saving and cost-effective actions when they understand the risks they face and how they might respond. In this spirit, we are dedicated to working with partners to engage consumers and clients in learning about climate change, including how it can affect them in both the short and long term and how their decisions and actions can reduce those risks.
The Weather Company is an IBM Business. View IBM’s position on climate change here.
The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.