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Human-caused increases in greenhouse gases have been the major influencing factor on global climate change over the past 140 years.
Energy production and consumption, specifically the burning of fossil fuels, are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Less than 4% of countries are responsible for more than half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Both ecosystems and human infrastructure around the world face risks from climate change. Increased temperatures and extreme weather events, impacts on precipitation, and sea level rise can have wide-ranging and long-term consequences.
The American Geophysical Union and its network of Earth and space scientists are committed to studying climate change, its impacts, and opportunities for improvement and to educating the public on their findings.
Major health concerns as a result of global warming include the following:
For example, nearly 7 million U.S. children are currently affected by asthma. The changing climate contributes to increased levels of airborne allergens that are associated with a risk of increased allergic and asthmatic episodes.
Climate-related health issues can put the nation’s most vulnerable citizens, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and the poor, at risk.
Climate change has led to a growing number of extreme weather events that are even more likely to occur in the future. In 2012, climate and severe weather disasters cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion. From 2004 to 2013, the United States saw estimated multibillion dollar losses from the following disasters: $392 billion from hurricanes, $78 billion from heat waves and drought, and $76 billion combined from tornadoes, flooding, and severe storms.
Impacts to infrastructure in the wake of these severe weather events can be costly. For example, as a result of climate change, wildfire seasons now last 78 days longer than they did in 1970, and in 2015 alone, the U.S. Forest Service spent more than half its budget fighting fires.
Safety and Security
Climate change’s effects place strains on natural resources, supply, and distribution that can threaten a country’s or a region’s overall stability and cause conflict.
Concerns include the following:
 U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) Climate and Health Assessment, https://s3.amazonaws.com/climatehealth2016/high/ClimateHealth2016_FullReport.pdf.
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/science/extreme-weather.html.
 President’s Climate Action Plan, https://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan.
 USGRCP Climate and Health Assessment, https://s3.amazonaws.com/climatehealth2016/high/ClimateHealth2016_FullReport.pdf.
 U.S. Department of Agriculture, “The Rising Cost of Wildfire Operations,” http://www.fs.fed.us/sites/default/files/2015-Rising-Cost-Wildfire-Operations.pdf.
 USGCRP, Third National Climate Assessment, http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights/report-findings/water-supply.
 The White House, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf.
 Department of Defense, 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, https://www.acq.osd.mil/eie/downloads/CCARprint_wForward_e.pdf.
 USGCRP, Third National Climate Assessment, http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/.
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