When coal, gas and oil are burned, they produce carbon dioxide that builds up in the atmosphere and traps the sun’s heat. Much of this greenhouse gas released today remains in the atmosphere after even 100 years, trapping more and more heat.
Since the mid-1800s, emissions of carbon dioxide have skyrocketed, and subsequently global temperatures have risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last century. Earth has not experienced such a rapid change in temperature in thousands of years.
Unless we reduce the pollution that causes global warming, temperatures could climb between 2-10 degrees Fahrenheit this century. Such a rapid rise in temperature would fundamentally reshape the planet’s climate, forever changing the landscape and water resources people and wildlife depend upon.