Is global warming the same thing as climate change?
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How do we know global warming is really happening?
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How do we know humans are responsible for global warming?
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Where do greenhouse-gas emissions come from?
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How has global warming affected the world so far?
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How high will temperatures rise if global warming continues?
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What impacts will global warming have in the future?
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What is sea-level rise?
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What is ocean acidification?
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Is it dangerous to have more than 2°C of global warming?
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What happens if the world heats up more drastically — say, 4°C?
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How much could global warming cost the economy?
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How do we stop global warming?
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How do we reduce greenhouse-gas emissions?
There are a few big ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. We could use less energy (either by becoming more energy-efficient or by conserving). We could switch to cleaner sources of energy. We could also reduce emissions from deforestation and agriculture.
But avoiding a 2°C rise in global temperatures — the ostensible goal of most countries — would require reducing worldwide emissions 40 to 70 percent by mid-century. That's a huge shift. To get things started, the International Energy Agency has argued that such a cut would require $24 trillion in clean energy investments between now and 2020 (and more thereafter). That would include:
Each year, on average, 15 power plants and industrial facilities would have to be fitted with technology to capture carbon emissions and store it underground rather than emit it into the atmosphere. (This technology, known as CCS, is still in its infancy.)
On average, 32 new nuclear plants and 17,500 wind turbines would need to be built each year to provide carbon-free electricity.
The world would need to make its transportation sector much more efficient between now and 2020. That means lighter vehicles, putting 20 million electric cars on the road, and more efficient airplanes. Buildings and factories would also need to become dramatically more efficient at using energy.
There are ways to tweak this. If countries don't want to deal with nuclear power, then they'd need to ramp up some other clean energy source. If carbon-capture technology doesn't work, then something else will have to supplant it. The basic point is that it's a huge task.
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