Global Warming is the past, present, and likely future increase of the average global temperature of Earth's atmosphere. The current warming trend is most likely caused by human activity, such as emissions of carbon dioxide from fuel combustion and energy generation.
Projections indicate that average global surface temperatures might rise between 1.1 to 6.4 °C in the 21st century. It has already raised 0.74 °C over the course of the 20th Century. Other side effects include rising sea levels from melting glaciers (especially in Greenland and Antarctica) and thermal expansion, ocean acidification, and drastic regional changes in climate and precipitation, leading to droughts in some regions and an increase in floods in others.
There is much controversy surrounding Global Warming, and some politically conservative factions in the United States of America argue it's only a hoax perpetrated by Al Gore. The scientific community, however, has reached a general consensus that global warming, while also something that happens cyclically in nature, is currently being accelerated because of the acts of man. Most scientists believe that, of because human industry and proliferation, the planet is currently slightly warmer than it would otherwise be in the absence of mankind. They expect that trend to continue.
Many scientists refer to the current warming trends as Anthropogenic Global Climate Change instead of Global Warming both to emphasize the impact man has on it, and also to clarify that not every part of the world will warm even though the average worldwide temperature increases. Even in an ice age parts of the globe remain warm, and the opposite is likely to be true with global warming. June 2010 was the hottest June on record globally, but where I live most of the month was dreary and cold. Plus, it's not like our bodies are sensitive enough to notice that average of 0.74 °C temperature increase over the past 50 years. Cities typically generate more pollutants and more heat than rural locations. When glaciers melt they cool the water that the run-off immediately flows into. Temperature variations can disrupt weather patterns, and thus alter where the pollutants and the warmer air will go to. Etc.
Those sorts of factors complicate the picture, and make it hard to predict exactly how everything is going to play out. This complexity is part of why, even though there is a scientific consensus that global warming is happening and is caused by man, it is still hotly debated in the public and political arena.
- Geoengineering - possible technological attempts to fight global warming
- Water World - sometimes in fiction Earth is turned into one due to global warming
- News: Bangladesh Is Set To Disappear Under The Waves By The End Of The Century
- News: Disaster looms with rising sea levels - islands
- Fiction/News: 2060 - Humvee-sized, bulletproof meat-eating spiders attack
- News: Meltdown In The Arctic Is Speeding Up
- News: Re-Engineering the Earth
Game and Story Use
- In your game, you get to choose whether it's true or a hoax. Season to taste, and have fun.
- If in your world where it was all an innocent bad prediction by some paranoid scientists, the future could result in a happy utopia who's only major problem is that scientists are mistrusted and under-funded. Which is a little bland, so unless you've got something else cool happening in your setting, you may want to decide on one of the more extreme possiblities.
- If in your world it was lie perpetrated to advance a political agenda, you might have a bleak dystopia where all the worst conspiracy theories proved true and the world is ruled by the tightened fist of fascism.
- Either of those alternatives are going to be very different as well from a world where time proves anthropogenic climate change true and the new weather patterns reshape the globe.
- Try this for an Illuminati-themed game: Anthropogenic global warming is real… and the Illuminati knew about this since at least the 19th century (indeed, the greenhouse effect was first proposed by Joseph Fourier in 1824 - so how much earlier might the Secret Masters of the World have known of it)? But they encouraged the widespread use of fossil fuels nonetheless, and suppressed alternatives. In the current age, as the effects are becoming more and more obvious, they strive to keep the subject controversial in the opinion of the public until the environment is driven to the brink - and _then_ they will throw their "global warming skeptic" tools overboard and use the global disaster to implement harsh new social and government controls which could have been avoided by reacting earlier to the crisis. Thus, the Illuminati gain more power by playing both sides against each other.
- For gaming purposes, global warming is the perfect excuse to rearrange the environmental, social, and political framework of the Earth for science fiction campaigns set there. From erasing coastal cities from the map due to rising sea levels to devastating entire regions when they no longer become suitable for agriculture, the range of changes you can justify is vast. Anything from an After The End world to an ordinary Cyberpunk Dystopia can be explained this way.
- If the changes are still ongoing, expect plenty of refugees moving around the world in search of a safe haven. If the climate has stabilized, the refugees will likely have settled down all over the world, leading to all sorts of ethnic enclaves in unexpected places.