Welcome to the Global Change Project!
    Welcome to the homepage of the Paleontological Research Institution and Museum of the Earth’s Global Change Project. The goal of this website is to collect and synthesize available information on global change and present it in a straightforward, unbiased, easily-accessed format for scientists, educators, students, and members of the public. Much information is available on the internet and in the media about the important subject of global change, and it can be difficult to sift through. This site is a resource for those wishing to educate themselves and others so that as individuals and citizens we can make informed choices and learn to live more lightly on the planet.
    Global change encompasses the many changes involving Earth that occur over time. This includes changes in climate, biodiversity, land use, and natural resources, among other things. ‘Climate change’ and ‘global change’ are often used interchangeably, but this usage is incorrect; climate change is just one facet of the larger set of conditions that make up global change.
    The Purpose of This Website

    The Paleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth recognize, based on scientific research, that humans are responsible for a large proportion of current climate change.  Throughout this website you will see scientific support for this hypothesis. 

    Why do scientists think that humans are causing much of current climate change?

    • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in our atmosphere.
    • Concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased dramatically, by nearly 50%, since the industrial revolution. 
    • Since the late 1980s, Earth’s average temperature has been gradually rising.  This change is not accounted for in natural variation.  Climate models that incorporate increasing CO2 explain this trend better than any models based on natural changes.
    • Models that were developed as early as the 1970s have shown that high CO2 concentrations equate with warm periods in Earth’s history.
    • Most significant problems with the hypothesis of CO2-based climate change have been answered in the past 30 years.
    • There are still uncertainties about how the climate system works, but none of these areas of research are expected to prove the basic hypothesis of human-induced climate change wrong.

    Why should you care that the Earth’s climate is changing?

    • Billions of people will be impacted by changing coastlines, water availability, temperature changes.  It will change where and how we live and where and how we access food.
    • When climate changes rapidly, whether natural or not, it means that whole species will go extinct because they can’t migrate or adapt quickly enough.  This is true, not only for animals, but also for plants we depend upon. 
    • Climate is an interactive system with feedback loops – change one thing  and you can impact the whole system.  The more we change the climate, the more feedback loops triggered that will cause even greater climatic change. 

    Why does PRI and its Museum of the Earth promote the viewpoint that human-caused climate change is happening?

    • When most reputable scientists who are experts in a particular field come to the same conclusion, using large amounts of independent evidence that they have gathered and studied over the course of a decade or more, experience suggests that they and we are approaching a real understanding of the topic.
    • PRI provides scientific information from this scientific consensus. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- over 2000 scientists from around the world -- and most other climate scientists today agree that the Earth is warming and that it is due to human influences.
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