Human activity and global climate change

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Introduction

The earth’s climate has changed over time. With many cycles of glacial advance and retreats, the climate can be said to change to a great percentage especially considering the fact that human civilization has also characterized today’s society (Anderegg et al., 2015). In this regard, it is of great essence to assess different factors that have come into play in increasing global warming.  Among the major factors that have been said to influence climate change include human activities. The human activities have been traced since the origin of man. However, the human activities have become worse since Science and technology has characterized today’s society.  This essay will seek to evaluate the validity of the statement that human activities are the major contributor to climatic changes, which in turn cause global warming.

Review of literature

Consensus from scientific evidence indicates that human activities are primal in causing global warming. As seen in the research conducted by Anderegg et al (2015), many human activities have contributed to the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The research continues to explain how the content of greenhouse gases is increasing in the atmosphere faster that in the previous years. It is indicated that the greenhouse gases are responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere. Anderegg et al (2015) opine that the more human activities contribute the release greenhouse gases through different like burning of fossil fuels, the more the temperatures around the globe will keep rising. This fact then validates the connection of people and their environment. On another note, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007) gives alarming evidence of how the temperatures today are worse than in previous 100 years. If the emissions continue to increase, it is expected that the temperatures will increase considerably. The same argument is backed by US Environmental Protection Agency (2015) who writes that human activities have been instrumental in production of lots of greenhouse gases that leads to trapping of heat that causes global warming. As the sun hits the ground, the warmth is in turn absorbed by greenhouse gases like methane and carbon IV oxide that make the climate extremely hot (IPCC, 2007). This, therefore, validates the fact that the greenhouse effect be detached from human activities.

Human activities are linked to climatic changes since the type of CO2 produced is directly linked to human activities and not any other factors. In the research conducted by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007), global warming is correlated to human activities since the type of CO2 produced in the present day world is derived from the burning of fossil fuels like coal that can be clearly differentiated from other emissions through calculating the isotope ration it contains. Natural processes like outgassing from water bodies like oceans, and volcanic activities have been disqualified as the main emitters of greenhouse gases in the environment (IPCC, 2007).  As at 2012, US Environmental Protection Agency (2015) writes that the total amount of emissions from greenhouse effect stood at over 6 million metric tons. From these statistics, it is evident that human activities stand at the major contributors to the emissions of greenhouse gases that have caused global warming.

On another note, human activities have been linked to global warming due to the experienced weather changes characterized by heat waves and drought that are extremely intense and occur regularly in a year. Hansen, Sato & Ruedy (2012) explain that many regions in our states are not devoid of human activities that harm our environment. Many researchers and analysts have linked the anomalies in the climatic changes to human activities. A good example is the heat waves that were experiences in Oklahoma and Moscow in 2010 (Hansen, Sato & Ruedy, 2012). It is said that the human activities have become almost a common activity in our societies and if nothing will be done to curb the same, there are higher chances that human activities will remain the number one cause of global warming in today’s society and in the centuries to come.

Yet another aspect that validates the existence of human activities in global warming is the sudden changes in precipitation like heavy storm and min mal levels of snow. Dessler, Zhang & Yang (2008) opine that the production of greenhouse gases by human beings results to an increase in humidity. In itself, water vapor has been termed as one of the gases produced by man. In the even that more water vapor is produced, it is expected that warming will also increase. The study continues to explain that changes in the precipitation on land as well as the water bodies is likely to increase due to unnatural activities like human factors and the natural climate will be influenced negatively (Dessler, Zhang & Yang , 2008). Mountainous areas will receive higher levels of rain unlike snow.  Human induced activities will also affect the flow of rivers, the temperature experienced during winter and the amount of snow during winter (Dessler, Zhang & Yang, 2008). In this regard the temperatures are expected to increase considerably if the human activities continue to increase in the environment.

Raditive forcing has been indicated as one of the human activities that have caused global warming in the environment. Radiative forcing refers to the measure of how energy balance of the Earth atmosphere is influenced by factors that affect the climate. IPCC (2007) links human activities to be the major causative agent of global warming. These activities have been traced back to the industrial era when lots of human activities helped our everyday lives. It is these activities that have led to the production of greenhouse gases like Carbon IV Oxide that has in turn caused radiations in the atmosphere. It has been indicated that the greenhouse gases absorbs the emitted radiations in the atmosphere (IPCC, 2007). The earth’s layers then continue warming like the troposphere while the stratosphere’s layer decreases; hence, contributes to cooling of the atmosphere. The aerosol particles that have been produced by human activities also contribute to radiative forcing since they cause reflection and more absorption of infrared and solar radiations in the atmosphere (IPCC, 2007). The cloud properties will then be expected to change negatively. With a continuation in human activities, more radiations will be emitted in the atmosphere hence negative radiation forcing. IPCC (2007) indicates that the airplanes have also joined in the persistent production of condensation trails in areas with high temperatures and low levels of humidity. Cloudiness will continue being witnessed in the atmosphere and more heat on the earth’s surface.

On the contrary other studies indicate that human activities are not the primal causes of global warming in the globe today. Among such studies include the compilation of Robinson, Robinson & Soon (2007) who is of the opinion that the earth’s climate has always been warm since time in memorial and cooled itself with time. The rise in the earth’s temperatures can be said to be within the limits of the natural temperature changes that the earth’s atmosphere can naturally balance. Actually, the author continues to write that the 20th and 21st century is not the warmest that the earth has ever been and that in the past, the heat levels were extreme.  Actually in the earlier times in 1000AD, the temperatures that were recorded in the earth’s atmosphere were simply extreme (Robinson, Robinson & Soon, 2007). This disqualifies the thought the recent human activities have been the major cause of global warming. The Roman and other medieval empires were said to experience a lot of heat that probably the human beings of this age cannot withstand. Since the temperatures have been rising and cooling, it is assumed that the temperatures in the coming centuries will be mild and cool with time, since the earth’s atmosphere has its own natural ecosystem (Qian & Lu, 2010). The authors continue to indicate that the CO2 produced by human activities is in turn absorbed by the forests and oceans while another percentage of the carbon sinks (Qian & Lu, 2010). This argument in itself brings out the notion of negative climatic changes, and continues to validate the thought that human activities play very minimal roles in the causing the changes in the globe. The oceans have also been indicated to be the major consumers of the CO2 emissions (US Senate Minority Environment and Public Works Committee, 2017). With these thoughts in mind, global warming then cannot be solely blamed on the present day human activities. The earth contains its own natural system that balance what come into it and what goes out.

Conclusion

Conclusively, global warming is a contemporary issue that affects many people in the society. From the essay it is arguably that human activities are the primal cause of global warming. Human beings have been indicated to be the major producers of the greenhouse gases that are main contributors to global warming. In turn the gases are absorbed into the atmosphere and a lot of heat is consequently produced.  On the contrary, human activities have been indicated to contribute to global warming in minimal levels. The study found out that in the earlier centuries, the atmosphere was warm than it is now; and that the earth contains a natural ecosystem that balances the temperatures that come in and go out of it.

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  1. Anderegg, W., Prall, J., Harold, J. & Schneider, S. (2009). Expert Credibility in Climate Change.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(27), 12107-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1003187107
  2. Dessler A., Zhang, Z. & Yang, P. (2008). Water-Vapor Climate Feedback Inferred from Climate Fluctuations, 2003–2008. Geophysical Research Letters, 35 (L20704), 1-4.
  3. Hansen, J., Sato, M. & Ruedy, R. (2012). Perception of Climate Change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(370), E2415–E2423, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1205276109
  4. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis. Retrieved from www.ipcc.ch, 2007.
  5. IPCC (2007). Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate. Cambridge & NY: Cambridge University Press.
  6. Qian W. & Lu, B. (2010). Periodic Oscillations in Millennial Global-Mean Temperature and Their Causes. Chinese Science Bulletin, 55(35), 4052–4057.
  7. Robinson, A., Robinson, N. & Soon, W. (2007). Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, 12, 79-90
  8. US Environmental Protection Agency (2015). Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data Explorer. Retrieved from epa.gov.
  9. US Senate Minority Environment and Public Works Committee (2007). US Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007. Retrieved from epw.senate.go
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