There is mounting evidence that human activities -- particularly the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas -- have led to the buildup of heat-retaining greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, and that this, in turn, has contributed to a warming of the earth's oceans and atmosphere.
1. "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level;"
2. "Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values;" and
3. "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."
. . and the Mid-Atlantic Region
The Mid-Atlantic Region is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. While the region's contribution to the problem is roughly comparable to its population (the region has 9.7 percent of the nation's population and contributes 10.5 percent of its CO2 emissions), the potential impact of rising sea levels on the region is likely to be greater than average. Not only does the region include many coastal areas, numerous cities on coasts and waterways (including Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Annapolis), two major estuaries (the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays), and numerous barrier islands impacted by rising sea levels, but the relative rates sea-level rise in the Mid-Atlantic Region are much higher than most other coastal areas and are nearly twice the global rate of 1.7 (±0.5) mm per year.
Just as the region is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, so have governments and organizations in the region been involved in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A number of states are participants in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the country's first market-based, mandatory cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, most state and local governments have developed plans for curbing greenhouse gas emissions and have been developing innovative policies to provide increased energy efficiency and promote renewable energy.
More detailed information regarding climate change issues can be found on EPA Regional Climate Change Contacts page.