Climate change is a natural occurrence over periods of thousands of years. However, due to large-scale deforestation and the use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) for transportation and electricity generation, humans are speeding up the rate at which the climate is changing. After the last ice age, the earth warmed around 7⁰F over a period of 5,000 years. In the last 100 years, the earth has warmed over 1⁰F; this is more than 8 times faster than natural climate change.1
Deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels release huge amounts (in 2015, the United States alone released 6,587 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.2 Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, traps solar radiation (heat energy) from the sun in the atmosphere rather than reflecting the sun’s energy back into space. This “greenhouse effect” is a natural and essential process, but human activities are emitting so much of these greenhouse gases that an unbalanced amount of solar radiation is trapped in the atmosphere without being reflected back into space. As a result we are seeing warming global temperatures.1
97% percent of climate scientists are in agreement that global climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activities. Most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing anthropogenic climate change.3
Climate Change Impacts at Shenandoah National Park
It is important to know that increasing global temperatures impact different parts of the world in different ways. At Shenandoah National Park, some potential local impacts of climate change include...
Monitoring & Research in the Park
What You Can Do
Consider using an online calculator to learn how much carbon dioxide you release in a year, your carbon footprint. Then, decide which energy-intensive activities you do can be scaled back.
Last updated: February 3, 2020