Dunbarton Energy Committee
Almost all climate scientists are convinced that we are in a period of climate change, specifically global warming caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuel. This conviction is based on data and observation; it is not a "belief," but the best interpretation of what is being seen and measured.
"Climate" is not the same thing as "weather." Weather can vary widely from week to week (especially in New England!); climate is the overall weather pattern of a particular region measured over tens and hundreds of years. One especially cold winter doesn't disprove global warming, nor does a warm winter prove it; climate has to be assessed over time, and over time earth's climate is indisputably growing warmer. This trend tracks very closely with the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide we are putting into the atmosphere.
If current trends continue, global warming will become extremely disruptive to all life on earth. Among the predictions that most scientists agree upon are a rise in sea levels, increasingly powerful storms, droughts and desertification, the spread of disease and the extinction of many life forms.
At a certain point, global warming can become self-reinforcing. As oceans warm, they will release more carbon dioxide; as permafrost degrades, it will release more of the greenhouse gas methane; as the polar regions lose their ice, they will retain more heat; and these and other 'feedback effects' will accelerate global warming toward what some scientists fear will be a 'tipping point' -- a point of no return.