This has been the warmest decade since 1880. In 2010, global surface temperatures tied 2005 as the warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists say that the earth could warm by an additional 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit during the 21st century if we fail to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. This rise in average temperature will have far-reaching effects on the earth's climate patterns and on all living things. Many of these changes have already begun.
Hot, dry weather led to a record-setting 2006 wildland fire season with close to 100,000 fires reported and nearly 10 million acres burned, 125 percent above the decade's average.
In July 2006, severe heat waves in North America contributed to the deaths of at least 225 people.
Scientists report that some polar bears are drowning because they have to swim longer distances to reach ice floes. Unless we take effective action now, the polar bear will likely become extinct in Alaska by 2050.
Glaciers & sea levels
At the current rate of retreat, all of the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2070.
Photo credits: storm: iStock; inhaler: iStock; polar bear: Corbis; flood: iStock.
last revised 12/10/2008
Sign up for NRDC's online newsletter
This Is Global Warming
Watch the Video »
Our new video shows the effects of global warming in the world today.
NRDC Gets Top Ratings from the Charity Watchdogs
- Charity Navigator awards NRDC its 4-star top rating.
- Worth magazine named NRDC one of America's 100 best charities.
- NRDC meets the highest standards of the Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau.
- Building Climate-Resilient Communities with State Revolving Funds
- posted by Ben Chou, 7/23/14
- What will the 21st Century Grid look like?
- posted by Carl Zichella, 7/21/14
- Obama: People Get Ready
- posted by Theo Spencer, 7/18/14