Global warming is attributable to both natural phenomenon and man made causes. However, although many would regard global warming as a confirmed set of facts, others would consider it merely a theory. The customary position of these doubters is that all that is currently alleged to be global warming is plainly the effect of a normal climatic shift towards the direction of increased temperature. They allege that every existing life on Earth could not sustain without this natural greenhouse effect in view of the fact that this natural process keeps the planet’s temperature warmer than it would otherwise be.
However, vast scientific studies have long-established that global warming is indeed happening, and that man-made causes contributes a significant part of this phenomenon. Human activities have made the natural temperature on Earth unbalanced, causing the noticeable warming effect of the planet. It is accepted that the planet’s temperatures naturally rise and fall; however, over the past decades, human activities have drastically increased the rate of global temperature. Without a doubt, humans have caused imbalance to the natural greenhouse effect on Earth, therefore, causing the present global warming.
Overview of Global Warming
Occasionally, scientists interchange the terms “global warming” and “climate change.” Global warming demonstrates the average increase in the Earth’s temperature, which in turn brings about changes in climate (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2009). For that reason, the average temperature rises as ocean and wind currents move heat around the Earth in manners that can warm or cool some areas, and change the amount of snow and rain falls on others. These climate changes may cause rise in sea level and changes in weather patterns in different areas, resulting to a wide range of impacts on many living things on the planet.
Scientists agree that greenhouse gases make the Earth warmer by locking in the reflected heat of the sun in the atmosphere. When scientists discuss the subject of climate change, their concern is generally focused on how global warming is attributable to human activities. This is because of the fact that from the onset of industrial revolution, humans have tripled the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2009). Historically, it takes thousands of years for these changes to occur, but in recent times these changes are distressingly occurring over the course of decades.
Effects of Global Warming
A warmer Earth can cause changes in rainfall patterns, a rise in sea level, and a wide range of effects on plants, animals, and humans. In fact, in several parts of world, the warming effect is already causing noticeable environmental changes. In recent years, in areas where excessive wetness or drought normally accompanies La Niña or El Niño, the phenomena have been more intense. In addition, there are various evidences of intensifying drought worldwide, though there is no such evidence yet in the United States (United States National Climatic Data Center, 2008). In Eastern Asia regions, it has been found that excessive rainfall events have increased in spite of the fact that total rainfall remained constant or even decreased to some extent.
Numerous studies of different regions confirm that extra-tropical cyclone activity in the northern hemisphere appears to have generally increased over the latter half of the 20th century, which is contrasting in the southern hemisphere activity. Furthermore, since 1970, hurricane activity in the Atlantic has revealed a significant increase in number (United States National Climatic Data Center, 2008). Alarmingly, in what experts believe a disturbing warning of upcoming events is that the perennial polar ice cap of the Arctic area is diminishing at a considerable rate per decade (Jaccard, 2005, p. 176). The melting of the polar icecaps is gradually causing the sea level to rise, as a result, threatening exposed, low lying countries such as Bangladesh.
If nothing is done, climate changes will continue to unfavorably affect the Earth’s natural systems, biodiversity, and human welfare. In accordance with the available data, climate change is estimated to further negatively affect the maintenance of a healthy environment; essential development challenges including the supply of food, clean water, and energy services; and conservation of the ecosystem, their biodiversity, and related ecological services and goods.
I. Humans Caused the Global Warming
The major forces of climate change are behavioral, technological, socio-political, economic, and demographic aspects (Chopra, 2005, p.376). These driving forces determine the changes in land use and future demand for energy which, in turn, influence emissions of aerosol precursors and greenhouse gases that in due course causes changes in Earth’s climate. Unfortunately, these non-structured behaviors of human exploitation, together with the industrial growth, have created a situation where the planet is getting warmer by the minute.
I. Industrial Activities
Industrial activities consist of discharges of all the greenhouse gases to varying degrees; however, in most societies fossil fuel combustions for transportation and electricity are regarded as the major contributor of man-made greenhouse gases. Accordingly, such activities are tremendous indication that humans are indeed responsible for the recent increase of carbon dioxide or CO2 in the atmosphere. On the face of it, humans have harmfully disturbed the environment by a series of destructive processes that are now becoming apparent through the exponentially extreme weather changes on several different areas on the planet.
Since the late nineteenth century the greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, that have been added into the atmosphere as a consequence of human activities have now accumulated to about three-quarters of the entire atmospheric pollutants (de Leon & Zedillo, 2007, p. 22). During the previous decade, industrial sector emissions, such as transportation, accounted for more or less one-third of overall energy-related emissions of CO2 (U.S. Office of Energy Markets and End Use, 2005, p. 17). In the United States, approximately 98 percent of CO2 emissions are instigated by the burning of fossil fuels, and automobiles are the second main source of these emissions, producing roughly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 per year (U.S. Office of Energy Markets and End Use, 2005, p. 13).
Man-made climate change occurs when humans emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These emissions come from various sources, including power plants, factories, agriculture, as well as cars, trains and planes. Because of the enormous quantities of greenhouse gases being emitted, the average concentration of these gases in the atmosphere is significantly distorted. Carbon dioxide, together with other air pollutants, accumulates in the Earth’s atmosphere resembling a thick blanket, thus trapping the sun’s heat. Consequently, as humans augment the greenhouse gases additional heat is trapped by the atmosphere, and this increases the atmosphere’s temperature, which in due course brings about global warming.
II. Land Conversions
Unfortunately, the woodlands and vegetations that convert the noxious CO2 to breathable oxygen are being deforested by humans for their personal use but are not adequately restored. Moreover, because of these alterations of land surfaces, immeasurable quantities of particulate are being released into the atmosphere. Because agriculture has wiped out wooded areas which, as a result, exposed the soil to several elements, there is an increased occurrence of dust being swept up into the atmosphere, more than ever during times of drought. Taken as a whole, it is estimated that the impact of changing the Earth’s surface and introducing extra particulate into the atmosphere has a substantial effect on climate change (Burroughs, 2007, p. 204).
III. Population Growth
Alarmingly, at the onset of 21st century the entire human population already reached more than 5 billion, and it is expected to continually increase at approximately 1.7 percent per year (Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (U.S.), 1991, p. 4). This increasing population is one of the major causes influencing the tendencies in greenhouse gas emissions. To illustrate, more people means greater demand for shelter, land areas, clothing, energy, and food; for that reason, the production of such increasing amount of commodities correspondingly increases the amount of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
Some climate experts, scientists and ordinary people believe that the sun is somewhat exclusively responsible for the existing changes in the Earth’s temperature; therefore, opposing the theory that humans are significantly contributing to the global warming. They claim that the solar cycle has some bearing on global climate changes, and they attribute the latest warming trends to this cyclic deviation. They further argue that the climate changes are seasonal events, in view of the fact that season changes depending on the planet’s inclination to the sun.
II. Humans Caused the Global Warming – Statistics
In examining global warming, how human activities modify the global climate should be measured independently from the natural causes of climatic change. With that respect, it is perceptible that as a consequence of the increasing human activities, the atmospheric concentrations of a number of greenhouse gases have greatly increased as compared to the previous decades (Chopra, 2005, p. 376).
For example, in the past half-century, the burning of fossil fuels carbon dioxide has increased by approximately 31 percent; mostly as a result of leakage from natural gas pipelines, waste disposal, rice production, and increased number of livestock, methane gas emissions has more than doubled; likewise, primarily because of the chemical industry, cattle feed lots, and agricultural soils, nitrous oxide has also increased by about 17 percent (Chopra, 2005, p. 376).
In sum, the impact of man-made greenhouse effect simultaneously develops with the natural factors that have constantly influenced the Earth’s climate. However, the author strongly acknowledges that man-made causes are the major factors that inequitably changed the Earth’s climate. Basically, the planet will constantly be exposed from surprising and unpleasant climate changes resulting from natural causes. However, what makes the present circumstances different is that humans are rapidly causing these intense climate changes in the planet. Although large quantity of carbon dioxide emissions comes from natural sources, it is the man-made discharges that generate the imbalance of the greenhouse gases, as a result, bringing about the irregular global warming. Without a doubt, human activities are harshly increasing the greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere, and if humans do not do something soon to overturn this alarming trend, future generations will pay the price.