The earth's climate is predicted to change because human activities are altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the buildup of greenhouse gases -- primarily carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons. The heat-trapping property of these greenhouse gases is undisputed. Although there is uncertainty about exactly how and when the earth's climate will respond to enhanced concentrations of greenhouse gases, observations indicate that detectable changes are under way. There most likely will be increases in temperature and changes in precipitation, soil moisture, and sea level, which could have adverse effects on many ecological systems, as well as on human health and the economy. Contents: The climate system; Emissions of greenhouse gases; Concentrations of greenhouse gases; Current climatic changes; Future climatic changes; Local climate changes; Human health; Agriculture; Coastal areas; Water resources; Forests; Ecosystems.