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Image showing four active tropical storms in the Northern Atlantic in September of 1996. This image links to a more detailed image.Situation
What's with the weather? We continually hear, "this is the worst flood on record" or "this is the coldest winter on record" or "the hottest decade in recorded history." Every week, it seems, there is some new natural disaster to contend with. GOES Image: Courtesy of GSFC/NASA

Image of a house showing damage from Hurricane Andrew.  This image links to a more detailed image.These natural events are thought to be a consequence of global warming. If global warming is occurring, these natural disasters will seem minor compared to the consequences of changing agricultural patterns, which could lead to widespread famine, and melting ice caps and glaciers, which could raise the sea level and cause coastal flooding. The first question to answer is, Is Earth's average temperature rising? Below is a graph of Earth's annual mean temperature since 1866. Photo: Courtesy of Meri Cummings

Image of a graph showing the annual mean surface air temperature from 1866 to 1996. This image links to a more detailed image.

Annual mean surface air temperature from 1866 to 1996. Baseline temperature of 14C. Source: Dr. James E. Hansen, Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Earth's temperature certainly seems to be rising. Concerned by the possibility of global warming, the Clinton Whitehouse is committed to engaging the American people in a dialogue about climate change. In July 1997, President Clinton and Vice President Gore hosted a meeting with three Nobel Laureates at the White House to explore climate change science. They have also met with key constituencies on the issue, including business, labor and environmental leaders. On October 1, 1997, the President and Vice President addressed an audience of weather forecasters from across the country who were attending a briefing sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On October 6, 1997, at Georgetown University, the President and Vice President hosted a White House conference called Climate Change: The Challenge of Global Warming. A final strategy of the Whitehouse staff is to contact you to investigate the problem. They would like you to examine the evidence for global warming, identify the sources of global warming, and provide a way to minimize global warming.

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