Prolonged heat waves withered crops across the United States, India and parts of China _while in other parts of China, torrential rains triggered floods and left millions of acres of farmland water-loggeed. Record rainfalls drenched Britain.

Something strange is happening to our weather. It didn’t just happen recently. During the past decade, the United State had seen a string of cold winter and warm average years that would occur by chance less than once in 1,000 years. Elsewhere, the weather has also run to extremes.

Why is our weather going wild ? According to climatologists, such erratic and extreme weather can be the first sign of a global change of climate. Are we headed for the next Ice Age ? Or are we feeling the first fever of the”greenhouse effect”, a global warming that could melt polar ice caps and tirn our landscape into tropical jungles and deserts ? Scientist have offered several theories, no single one of which offers a satisfactory reason for our strange weather. However, if pieced together, they can explain the climatic puzzle.

When we burn fossil fuels such as coal and oil, we send extra quantities of carbon dioxide nto our atmosphere. the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, like the glass in a greenhouse, lets sunlight pass through, then catches and retains some of the sunlight’s energy as heat. This greenhouse effect warms the earth.

Today, carbon dioxide causes half of the total greenhouse effect.Each year, our skies receive five billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the burnning of fossile fuels and up to 2.5 billion tonnes from the clearing and burning of almost 33 million acres of tropical forest. At the present

rate of increase, the amount of the gas lingering in the atmosphere could easily double.

As the world’s climate warms, polar ice caps will melt and ocean leaels will rise up to 1.2 metres, threatening even major cities like New York, London, Beijing and Seoul. Farmland will be devastated, water supplies contaminated and wildlife decimated. What kind of world will

that lead to ?

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