Global Warming
Seasons
Climatology and Climate Changes

How was Earth's climate different 50 years ago?

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01/23/2013

Climate is more associated with a region than with an entire planet. Consider the difference between the climate at earth's polar regions, and its climate in the tropics.

Overall, however, the global climate is a little bit warmer now than it was 50 years ago. In the 1960s primary energy generating facilities pumped a lot of particulate into the air, along with their CO2 emissions. This particulate had an overall short term cooling effect. As the particulate settled out and energy production methods were improved for cleaner air, the heat trapping effects of CO2 gradually became more preponderant.

Note, the change remains small, only a fraction of a degree overall. But the CO2 already liberated will continue having a warming effect even if we suddenly stopped all new emissions. The effect is similar to that of a blanket. You add a blanket on a cold night, you don't warm up immediately. It is expected to take decades for the earth to acclimate to current greenhouse gas concentrations.