Scientists over the years have been very pressing about the dangers and effects that a warming planet and changing climates can cause the world. Some of these effects include a drastic change in the weather, the likelihood of drought, an increased water demand coupled with a decreased supply, and a severe effect on health. Still, people do not seem to realize the gravity of their actions ignoring cautions and signs even if such are already in front of them. With or without regard to decades of piling evidences and many social and government efforts, one fact remains steadfast. “Climate change is happening and fast”.
Main Cause of Climate Change: Nature and Human Activity
Many reports show that climate change can be mainly attributed to an imbalance to Earth’s energy brought about by: (1) changes in the greenhouse effect, (2) differences in the sun’s energy going to the Earth, and (3) changes in reflectivity of Earth’s atmosphere and surface (“Causes of Climate Change”). These occurrences are generally natural to the Earth, which means they occur to bring balance. The greenhouse effect is in reality beneficial to life on Earth. These gases retain heat from the sun in the Earth’s atmosphere instead of being released into space. Because of this, Earth becomes warmer making it more livable than any other planet in the solar system. During the past centuries, changes in climate are thought to be due to natural events such as volcanic eruptions, changes in solar energy and natural levels of greenhouse gases.
The imbalance, on the other hand, is largely due to human activities and an increase in greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by humans. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and some chloroflourocarbons or CFCs (“Causes of Global Warming”). These chemicals are capable to trap varying amounts of heat such as CFCs, which can trap heat levels thousand times greater than carbon dioxide. However, of all these gases, CO2 still produces the greatest effect due to its large concentrations in the atmosphere.
Evidence of Cause through Human Activity
The Industrial Revolution starting from the 1700s saw the greatest increase in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions owing to an increase in human activities. For instance, the recent industrialization gave rise to many factories and electricity-producing companies, the main activity of which is the combustion of fossil fuels. Coal mining and oil extraction from Earth’s crust also produces this same effect. Furthermore, deforestation to support other industrial activities such as agriculture takes away available trees that can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and, thus, releases these carbons in the atmosphere once more (qtd. in Shah, 2012). Other sources of the gases include landfills and digestive systems of grazing animals from agriculture, which likely contain methane, fertilizers containing nitrous oxides, and industrial products previously containing CFCs.
The continuing rising figures can be accounted to very recent and also continuing human activities in the world today. For instance, deforestation has been widely a great problem in the Brazilian Amazon ever since people can remember. While the extent of the activity has been reported to decrease during the past years, areas as large as states in the U.S. continue to be deforested every year. From the period of August 2010 – July 2011 about 6,200 km2 of forests were cut down (Castillo, 2011), a size similar to the size of the state of Delaware. The highest level amount of deforestation happened in 2004 when some 25,000 km2 were given away to loggers. This is, however, only data from government officials manning the area and does not consist yet of illegal loggers, which continue to grow due to the heightened regulations being imposed on illegal logging. In an interview with Davyth Stewart of Interpol, he claimed that “organized crime is looking seriously at the timber industry as a way of generating revenue, and also for laundering proceeds of crime” (Melik, 2012).
Furthermore, the continued desire and plans of industrialization of a number of countries, from first-world to third-world countries has saw again an increase in the number of establishments such as factories burning fossil fuels. The 2011 report by the Bloomberg News claim that output of factories, mines and utilities has increased 0.2% overall amid the growing demand for automobiles and computers in the country during September of the same year (Kowalski, 2011). Third-world countries such as India are not one to be last. India’s recent industrialization marked the increase in diesel-powered cars and thus, particulate matters in the air like PM10s (Daigle, 2011). This increase, though may signify economic growth for the countries, also indicates increased carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases being emitted to the atmosphere.
There was one controversy, however, which circulated in November 2009, saying that the above claims by scientists regarding global warming and climate change had been exaggerated and records falsified. One of the leaked mails came from the head of CRU himself, Professor Phil Jones, saying “I’ve just completed ‘Mike’s Nature trick’ of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years to hide the decline” (Armstrong, 2009). The statement gave the impression that much of the date about global warming were allegedly manipulated to hide decline in temperatures taken from tree rings from the 1980s to the present. Despite the allegations, proponents of climate change say that it is unlikely to alter any regulation talks regarding climate change saying that one uncertainty cannot overshadow overwhelming evidence saying otherwise.
There is no doubt in the fact that various human activities greatly account for the rapod increase in greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions and consequently global warming. With the piling evidences of scientists and supports from governmental and non-governmental institutions, and individuals themselves, there should have been enough to make people realize that the world is on the verge of a drastic change. If the causes of such a change cannot be lessened in the coming years, people can already experience heightened natural disasters brought about by changing climate conditions, which can be devastating. The first step to take towards this goal of a lessened greenhouse gas emission is to acknowledge the main cause of climate change and the role that human activity has in this cause.
Armstrong, Paul. Q&A: ‘Climategate’ explained. CNN, 7 December 2009. Web. 2 December 2012.
Castillo, Mariano. Amazon deforestation at record low, Brazil says. CNN, 6 December 2011. Web. 1 December 2012.
Daigle, Katy. Industrialization And India’s Brown Air Problem. Manufacturing. Net, 16 December 2011. Web 1 December 2012.
Kowalski, Alex. Industrial Production in U.S. Increases on Cars, Computers. Business Week, 17 October 2011. Web. 1 December 2012.
Melik, James. Interpol clamps down on illegal logging. BBC News UK, 10 September 2012. Web. 1 December 2012.
National Geographic. Causes of Global Warming. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 1 December 2012.
Shah, Anup. Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction. Global Issues, 5 March 2012. Web. 1 December 2012.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Causes of Climate Change. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 1 December 2012.