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This Earth Day, a focus on Earth's warming

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Why all the heightened interest in global warming?

Several reasons: Media interest (splashy cover stories in The Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, and Vanity Fair magazines); Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth"; Democrats now controlling Congress and holding highly publicized hearings, plus a steady drumbeat of reports from the IPCC; retired military officers worried about the national security implications of climate change; and other government and academic sources.

Meanwhile, some high-profile politicians, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California, have been playing up the issue. Last September, Mr. Schwarzenegger signed the Global Warming Solutions Act, which aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the state 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 – the most stringent guidelines in the country.

The US Supreme Court has weighed in on climate change. On April 2 it ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

For some people, a particular event has captured their attention on the effects of climate change. Chela Sullivan in Phoenix was energized when she recently saw Al Gore give his Power- Point presentation in a packed hall at Arizona State University. But like a lot of young Americans, she had already started doing her bit to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

She leaves her yellow VW bug at home and carpools as much as possible. She installed energy-saving lightbulbs and appliances in her condo and doesn't use the clothes dryer. "If I have to make adjustments in my life – like walking more and spending less on gas – I will, because I think it's imperative," she says.

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