Some areas have gone from bad to worse. This past January was the warmest on record, with an average global temperature of 54.9 degrees F (13 degrees C).
Despite a growing consciousness of how the burning of fossil fuels contributes to global warmingraising sea levels and triggering violent weatheroil consumption increased 14 percent in the 1990s and now contributes 40 percent of all carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year. To complicate the problem, two-thirds of the worlds oil reserves lie in the politically unstable Persian Gulf region, which jeopardizes access.
Drained for agriculture, development, and dams, wetlandswhich help purify the air and provide wildlife habitathave decreased by an estimated 50 percent in the past century.
The number of large dams worldwide has increased from 5,000 in 1950 to 45,000 in 2000. These dams alter the flow of rivers, inhibit the migration of fish, and sometimesas in the case of the Rio Grandecause rivers to run dry in places.
Oceans have lost 27 percent of their coral reefs in the past 50 years. Part of the problem occurs during bleaching, when increased solar radiation and warmer water causes algae inside coral polyps to be expelled. Humans play a direct role in the further destruction of coral reefs with the use of explosives and cyanide to kill and collect fish around the reefs.
Oceans are also losing fish faster than they can be replaced. New technologies lead to overfishing and the rapid decline of populations such as bluefin tuna, groupers, and cod. Lower prices of fish at the market add to the damage by masking the short supply and preventing cutbacks in consumption.
Finally, the problem of long-term storage for nuclear waste as well as the risk of leakage pose a threat to people across the globe. The proposed storage location at Yucca Mountain in Nevada may or may not prove effective.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
This section of the site provides answers to frequently asked questions about global warming plus related links.
Appetite for Oil
Energy Information Administration
If youre looking for official energy statistics from the U.S. government, log on to this site. Youll find energy information organized by geography, fuel, sector, and price. It also provides information on specific subjects such as energy production and storage as well as the environment.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
This site is the outgrowth of the intergovernmental treaty signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. It includes such features as project reports, the 2002 winners of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards in the Evian Special Prize, and information on the next conference in Valencia, Spain.
Rise of Megadams
The World Commission on Dams
This site serves as an archives for the organization, containing such information as reports, studies and reviews, surveys, and press coverage.
International Coral Reef Information Network
Youll find information on the networks initiatives at this site as well as coral reef photos, factsheets, teachers resources, publications listing, and a calendar of current and upcoming events.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
This interactive site features information on conservation and research, aquarium exhibits, as well as live cams of Monterey Bay, the outer bay, otters, penguins, and kelp.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This segment of the site focuses on the standards of Nevadas Yucca Mountain, the planned repository for the United States spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.