Global Warming & Climate Change
The average surface temperature of earth has increased more than one degree Fahrenheit since 1900. The rate of warming has been nearly three times the century-long average since 1970.
Almost all experts studying the recent climate history of the earth agree now that human activities, mainly the release of heat-trapping gases from smokestacks, tailpipes, and burning forests, are probably the dominant force driving the trend. The gases add to the planet's natural greenhouse effect, allowing sunlight in, but preventing some of the resulting heat from radiating back to space.
Drawing on research on past climate shifts, observations of current conditions, and computer simulations, climate experts have concluded that without big curbs in greenhouse gas emissions, the 21st century could see temperatures rise 3 to 8 degrees, weather patterns sharply shift, ice sheets shrink and seas rise several feet.
What Is Climate Change?
The Earth obtains its heat from radiation emitted by the sun. When the sun's radiation reaches the Earth, some of it is absorbed by the land, ocean and vegetation and retained within the atmosphere by naturally occurring gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour.
These "greenhouse" gases possess heat-trapping properties that keeps some of the heat absorbed by the Earth from escaping back into space, thus keeping the planet warm enough to sustain life as we know it.
The remainder of the radiation that is not retained within the atmosphere is reflected off of clouds and other light coloured surfaces back into space.
Certain human activities are emitting these heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The main concern is that significantly increasing the amount of existing greenhouse gases beyond what occurs naturally will trap more heat near the surface, contributing to a global warming or climate change.
The primary human activities that are emitting these greenhouse gases are the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), deforestation, and a variety of industrial and agricultural processes. A general warming of the planet is seen to coincide with significant increases in these human activities.
Continuing to emit gases with heat-trapping properties will only cause the planet to warm at a faster rate, potentially leading to changes in temperature, humidity and wind patterns. Changes in any of these could impact health, lifestyle, the economy and the environment in countless ways.
The Windfall Ecology Centre works at the community level with action oriented programs designed to reduce green house gas emissions which are the leading cause of dangerous climate change.
At the provincial and national level we work to develop and promote programs in support of Canada's Kyoto Protocol commitments.
Windfall also works internationally on climate change issues and has official 'observer status' with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where we strive along with other environmental organizations to ensure the environmental integrity of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol are maintained.
Windfall Executive Director, Brent Kopperson has served as an adviser to Canada's Delegation at Kyoto negotiating sessions.