Iowa Public Television


Global Warming: The Short Course

posted on July 4, 2003

A scientific panel has recommended the government help women reduce the fats they consume in meat, poultry and milk to protect babies from harmful dioxins.

Dioxins are pollutants found in air, soil and water, which can be released when industrial waste is burned. They build up in the fatty tissues of animals and scientists believe humans are exposed to them when they eat animal fats. Researchers argue the government should target females because they can pass dioxins to babies through breastfeeding.

This week's report is one example of environmental impact on human health and ways to offset them. Another ambitious effort is the quest to combat global warming. The target of that endeavor is not just emissions, but the release of specific gases.


For more than two decades, scientists and ecologists have believed that increased emissions of carbon dioxide have contributed to the trapping of more of the sun's rays than would occur naturally. The result, referred to as the "greenhouse effect", is projected to raise the overall temperature of the earth a few degrees. Those few degrees could change everything from where people live to where crops can be grown.

Believing there was some credence to the theory, representatives of 39 developed nations went to Japan in 1997 to work out possible solutions. The representatives created and signed what is now known as the Kyoto Protocol. If ratified by enough of the governments of the signatory nations, greenhouse gasses, or GHGs, will be required to be reduced below 1990 levels. Those reduction goals are to be met between 2008 and 2012. As yet, the United States Congress has not ratified the agreement.


Tags: climate change global warming news