IsHuman Activity A Substantial Cause Of Global Climate Change?
Climatechange refers to the adjustment in the ways and forms of weather, andassociated changes in ice sheets, oceans and land surfaces that occurover scales of time, such as decades or even longer (Oreskes 1686).These changes may be variable, moderate or even extreme. There aremany causes of climate change such as natural processes or humanactivities like land use among others.
Itis crucial to understand what weather is because it is the basis ofclimate change. Weather is the actual state or condition of theatmosphere-its humidity, rainfall, wind and many others over hours,days, weeks or months. Naturally, the atmospheric greenhouse upshotis responsible for keeping our planet warm enough to sustain lives.The sun lights the earth via the atmosphere. Surfaces like ice capsor clouds exude some warmth back to space. However, most of thesunlight’s incoming discharge warms the earth’s surface. Someheat is then radiated back to the atmosphere by the earth. Greenhousegases then trap some heat in the atmosphere which includes carbondioxide (CO2).
Thecurrent paper supports the claim that human activity is a substantialcause of global climate change. Since time immemorial, humanactivities have been the greatest cause of global climate change.Although there are other causes of climate change, human activitiesremain crucial. The paper is going to espouse on the possible humanactivities that have been responsible to global climate change. Theseactivities are grave, and they have been responsible for the adversehuman suffering.
Manyscientists have posed arguments that human activity is the primarycause of climate change (Oreskes 1688). Scientifically, it is knownthat some activities cause global warming while others result tocooling. The likely causes are burning of gas, oil and coal. Thesearguments are based on the thorough understanding of our atmospheresgreenhouse upshot and how man’s activities have been altering it.
Humanactions like burning of fossil fuels make greenhouse gases toaccumulate in the atmosphere (Barnett 1291). As the atmospherebecomes more concentrated with greenhouse gases, further heat isretained. Many industries and power stations worldwide use fossilfuel such as gas, oil and coal for energy generation. This can alsobe evident in the transport sector where vehicles, trains andairplanes burn fossil fuels to generate power. Carbon dioxide isreleased into the atmosphere when one burns fossils resulting inglobal warming.
Whenused to generate energy, fossils also discharge pollutants to theatmosphere- like Sulphur dioxide. Our modern global industries mainlyuse fossils as the main source of energy. However, fossilsexplorations over the years have rendered it limited and it is hightime alternatives have to be used. In recent times, the explorationshave become largely controversial. For instance, there has beenwidespread public fury at the huge spill of oil in the Mexican Gulfin 2010 (Oreskes 1686). Oil firms have increasingly started lookingat new ways of oil exploration in tar sands and Polar Regions butthese explorations could cause adverse damage to the environment.
SvanteArrhenius was the first scientist to demonstrate the role of carbondioxide in global warming. Changes in global temperature since thenhave been tracked with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration asestablished by scientists. Research shows that the burning of oil,natural gas and coal has emitted about 600 billion tons of carbondioxide since the industrial revolution (Barnett 1291). Half of thesepollutants remain in the air with carbon dioxide being widelyresponsible for recent global warming trends. The ongoing emission ofcarbon dioxide have been of great concern because they have thepotential warm the earth to extreme heights which have never beenseen before in the antiquity of man’s civilization.
Statisticsindicate that forests cover nearly 30 per cent of the earth’s landsurface area, but this cover reduces every year (Barnett 1291). Anestimated 12 million ha of forest cover were lost every year from2000 to 2010 due to deforestation by human (Barnett 1294).Deforestation is the alteration of forest and its land to anotheruse. This includes alteration of natural forest cover to agriculture,water reservoirs, human settlement and tree plantations. Forest isvery critical for life to thrive. They prevent soil erosion, produceoxygen, houses thousands of species, store CO2 and ultimate helpcontrol climate change. Human induced deforestation lessens thesefunctions and thus causing further damage to the atmosphere.
Forestsplay massive role in the carbon cycle on earth. When they are cutdown, carbon absorption declines as well as oxygen released into theenvironment. Smaller crops like vegetables, agricultural crops andplants absorb carbon dioxide releasing oxygen however, forests drawin nearly a hundred times more carbon than any other agriculturalcrop in the same field area.
Forest’smassive storage of carbon makes it a significant cause of globalwarming. It is estimated that millions of tons of CO2 are dischargedto the environment due to logging and burning of forest woodcomponent. Massive carbon in trees is also released to the soil inform of decay matter. This accelerates the rate of global climatechange. Tropical forests in areas such as the Amazon and Congoexemplify largest carbon storage on land.
Deforestationhas a huge effect on global climate change such that countries likeBrazil and Indonesia are leading emitters of CO2 on the planet. Theseemissions not only come from transport and industrial discharge butlargely from deforestation. In Brazil, nearly 75 per cent of itscarbon emission comes largely from deforestation-majority being theclearing, logging and burning of the Amazon tropical forests (Barnett1312).
Cuttingdown of trees and forests to create agricultural land havecontributed to changes in the total quantity of sunlight radiatedfrom the ground to the atmosphere. This act is called albedo. Theeffect of these changes is predicted to be about 1/5 of the forcingon the earth’s climate because of the greenhouse gas emissionschanges. The highest effect of deforestation is predicted to be atrelatively high altitude where previously forested land is coveredwith snow causing albedo. The snow covered on forest and treesreflects nearly half of the sunlight shinning on it, whilst opengrounds covered with snow radiates about 2/3. The increased albedoover Eurasian has had a relatively cooling effect.
Thereare other noteworthy changes on the land surface that results fromincreased human activities like tropical deforestation. These changesthe amount of water lost through evapo-transpiration therebyincreasing surface albedo, and the overall effects of agriculture onmoisture characteristics on soil (Hansen et al. 3-4).
Additionally,the continued use of fertilizer by humans to grow plant contributesto global warming. Fertilizers are made from chemicals andsubstances like nitrogen, ammonia, carbon dioxide and methane. Theiremission to the atmosphere has greatly contributed to the amount ofgreenhouse gases. In turn, this leads to increased global warming andultimately weather changes. Such facts are disturbing as you canimagine the increased use of fertilizers around the world would addsalt to an already open wound. Fertilizers are mainly used for growthand cultivation to increase food production to feed the growing worldpopulation.
Thereis no doubt that land use and its changes has made significantcontribution to climate change. Typically, soils and vegetation actas carbon tank, storing CO2 that is mostly absorbed through the actof photosynthesis (Hansen et al. 3-4). When land is disrupted throughany human action, the carbon dioxide stored therein together withnitrogen-oxide are discharged back to the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide,methane and carbon dioxide are greenhouse gases and the majorcontributors to global warming. Soil erosion, leaching of itsnutrients and degradation can result from clearing of land. Thisdecline in the soil’s ability to store and retain carbon can leadto additional CO2 remaining in the environment, thus, increasing theoverall quantity of greenhouse gases.
Fromthe above argument, it is clearly evident that human activity hassubstantially contributed to changes in climatic conditions. Many ofthese human activities are as a result of their struggle forsurvival. The increased need for survival and increased quality oflives will lead in increased human activities. Together with anincrease in the overall population of humanity, the world is going toexperience adverse climatic changes
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Hansen,James Sato, Makiko & Ruedy, Reto. TheNew Climate Dice: Public Perception of Climate Change.New York, USA: Dr James E. Hansen, Columbia University, 2012. Print.
Oreskes,Naomi. Beyond the Ivory Tower. The Scientific Consensus on ClimateChange. Science306 (5702): (2004): 1686. Web, November 3, 2015.