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On the research front

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Throughout history, human beings have been at the mercy of their environment. Our ancestors had to cope only with seasonal weather variations, natural disasters and long-term shifts in climate. But, as people cleared land to grow crops, diverted streams and rivers for irrigation and, eventually, built towns and cities, they started to have an increasing impact on the world around them.
Even so, it was not until the Industrial Revolution that our activities began to affect the global environment. Learning to harness the energy in fossil fuels was a major step forward, but it had a price. The carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning fuel has added to the greenhouse effect - the natural insulation of earth by its atmosphere - leading to an increase in average temperatures. This could change the climate in many parts of the world. Global warming is not the only issue that needs international action. Our use of chlorine compounds - like CFCs - has damaged the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. There is now a definite hole that is letting through dangerous quantities of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This could harm life on our planet.
Europe is playing a major role, often the leading role, in exploring the science behind these global changes. Teams of scientists are working together to see what can be done. Only by acting now, on the best information that we have, can we make the right policy decisions to safeguard our planet for future generations.

 
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