Human activities that causes climate change in North America and Latin America


Causes of Global Warming and Climate Change in America

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere; hence causing global warming and climate change. Since 1945, the United States has featured as the leading producer of greenhouse gases (Downing, Harrigan, Pouyan & Sean, 2017). Coal burning at electricity generation plants and the use of fossil fuel for transportation emerged as the leading sources of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen dioxides in the United States. Since the 1960s, the use of fossil fuels for purposes of electricity production in North America produces approximately 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide (Bhatt & Goel, 2012). On the other hand, the use of fossil fuels for cars, trucks, trains, and ships in North America produce approximately 1.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases annually. In the Latin America region, oil and coal-burning power plants and the use of oil for transportation also feature as the main sources of greenhouse gases.

Besides the use of fossil fuel for energy, another human activity causing global warming in America includes the burning and decomposition of organic matter. The clearing of land for large-scale agricultural processes entails the burning of biomass (Bhatt & Goel, 2012). Large-scale burning of biomass releases tons of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere. Regarding the decomposition of organic matter, anthropogenic activities including the use of sewerage systems, landfills, animal waste bio-digestion and dams feature as the leading sources of methane gas (Hyung, Prowse & Yonas, 2016). Since 1945, the large-scale farming of corn and sugarcane in North America and Latin America, coupled with the building of massive waste treatment plants have contributed significantly to global warming and climate change.

Also, global warming has been worsened by the vice of deforestation in the Latin America. In early 1900, vast regions of South America were covered by tropical forests. Since the 1950s, the tropical forests in Latin America have suffered from commercial logging. In particular, the Brazilian and the Bolivian national governments engaged in industrial-scale logging to generate wealth and pay back their foreign debts (Ban, Agbayani & Murray, 2015). The process of deforestation reduces the vegetation cover that naturally acts as sinks for carbon dioxides and other greenhouse gases. Therefore, deforestation in the Amazon has led to the imbalance in the release and absorption rates of greenhouse gases; hence, causing the rise in global temperatures.  Also, deforestation in the South and Central American forests causes climate change. Approximately 50% of the rain in the tropical regions comes from the evaporated moisture from the forest canopies (Bhatt & Goel, 2012). Therefore, the reduction of the forest covers in Latin American has triggered the decrease in rainfall.

Environmental Effects of Global Warming

Global warming initiates the melting of polar ice caps and triggers the speedy rise of sea levels; hence, causing the catastrophic flooding of coastal lands. Also, the general rise in global temperature leads to increased desertification. On the other hand, climate change reduces food production. In the North and Latin American regions, the reduction in rainfall have led to reduced crop yields; hence, destroying the livelihoods of millions of subsistence farmers (Bhatt & Goel, 2012). Unfortunately, most of the environmental effects of climate change and global warming are deleterious and irreversible.

Mitigation Approaches

The rise in atmospheric temperatures can be reduced through the phasing out of fossil fuels. Most human activities including the heating of homes, the generation of electricity and transportation rely on the environmentally-harmful oil and coal. Fortunately, the fossil fuels can be replaced with renewable sources of energy including solar energy, wind energy, and nuclear energy (Downing et al, 2017). The switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources will reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The purpose of replacing the fossil fuels with the renewable sources of energy is not to eliminate the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Rather, the renewable energy sources would stabilize the level of greenhouse gases so as to allow the natural carbon sinks to remove the natural greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Besides the use of renewable sources of energy, the problems of global warming and climate change can be mitigated through the support of low-income countries to prevent further deforestations. Low-income communities in Latin America engage in logging to improve their livelihoods (Ban, Agbayani & Murray, 2015). Therefore, the high-income nations of North America should provide economic support to the low-income countries in Latin America to prevent further commercial logging. Since 2012, the United States has pledged $3 billion annually to support the Green Climate initiatives in the low-income nations of Latin America (Ban, Agbayani & Murray, 2015). In essence, preventing further environmental degradation should be the collective efforts of the global community. Governments should engage in more climate-friendly discourses that promote cleaner fuels and eliminate the economic need for deforestation.

In conclusion, human activities have played a central role in causing climate change and global warming. In particular, the industrial use of fossil fuels and the large-scale agricultural activities in North and South America have pumped tons of greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere since 1945. The tons of greenhouse gases have caused deleterious effects on the environment which include the rise in sea levels and the reduction in rainfall. The adverse environmental effects of global warming can be mitigated through the replacement of the fossil fuels with renewable energy sources and the provision of economic subsidies to low-income nations.

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  1. Ban, N., Agbayani, S & Murray, C. (2015). Cumulative effects of planned industrial development and climate change on marine ecosystems. Global Ecology and Conservation Journal, 4, 110-116
  2. Bhatt, R & Goel, A. (2012). Causes and consequences of global warming. International Journal of Life Sciences, Biotechnology and Pharmacy Research, 1(1), 27-32
  3. Downing, M., Harrigan, T., Pouyan, N, & Sean, W. (2017). Climate change and livestock: Impacts, adaptation, and mitigation. Journal of Climate Risk Management, 16(2), 145-163
  4. Hyung, E., Prowse, T & Yonas, D. (2016). Comparative evaluation of the effects of climate and land-cover changes on hydrological responses of the Muskeg River, Alberta, Canada. Journal of Hydrology, 8, 198-221
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