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Man Made Causes Of Global Warming Essay

10 key indicators of a human fingerprint on climate change below, with links to the science behind them.

The science is firm that global warming is happening. Even so-called “climate skeptics” are realizing this. We have discussed many times on Planetsave how humans cause global warming and the main effects and causes of global warming, but with so many people still confused or unaware, when someone comes out with an excellent visual AND science-backed explanation of how human actions are causing global warming, it is a crime not to share.

–> Highly recommended: What is Causing Global Warming?

Global warming expert John Cook of Skeptical Science has just done that. A recent post of his, 10 Indicators of a Human Fingerprint on Climate Change, is where I got the visual above. To go with that visual, here are 10 science-backed explanations of those 10 indicators:

  1. Humans are currently emitting around 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (CDIAC). Of course, it could be coincidence that CO2 levels are rising so sharply at the same time so let’s look at more evidence that we’re responsible for the rise in CO2 levels.
  2. When we measure the type of carbon accumulating in the atmosphere, we observe more of the type of carbon that comes from fossil fuels (Manning 2006).
  3. This is corroborated by measurements of oxygen in the atmosphere. Oxygen levels are falling in line with the amount of carbon dioxide rising, just as you’d expect from fossil fuel burning which takes oxygen out of the air to create carbon dioxide (Manning 2006).
  4. Further independent evidence that humans are raising CO2 levels comes from measurements of carbon found in coral records going back several centuries. These find a recent sharp rise in the type of carbon that comes from fossil fuels (Pelejero 2005).
  5. So we know humans are raising CO2 levels. What’s the effect? Satellites measure less heat escaping out to space, at the particular wavelengths that CO2 absorbs heat, thus finding “direct experimental evidence for a significant increase in the Earth’s greenhouse effect”. (Harries 2001, Griggs 2004, Chen 2007).
  6. If less heat is escaping to space, where is it going? Back to the Earth’s surface. Surface measurements confirm this, observing more downward infrared radiation (Philipona 2004,Wang 2009). A closer look at the downward radiation finds more heat returning at CO2 wavelengths, leading to the conclusion that “this experimental data should effectively end the argument by skeptics that no experimental evidence exists for the connection between greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere and global warming.” (Evans 2006).
  7. If an increased greenhouse effect is causing global warming, we should see certain patterns in the warming. For example, the planet should warm faster at night than during the day. This is indeed being observed (Braganza 2004, Alexander 2006).
  8. Another distinctive pattern of greenhouse warming is cooling in the upper atmosphere, otherwise known as the stratosphere. This is exactly what’s happening (Jones 2003).
  9. With the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) warming and the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere) cooling, another consequence is the boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere, otherwise known as the tropopause, should rise as a consequence of greenhouse warming. This has been observed (Santer 2003).
  10. An even higher layer of the atmosphere, the ionosphere, is expected to cool and contract in response to greenhouse warming. This has been observed by satellites (Laštovi?ka 2006).

The science on this matter is clear, and with regards to science and climate change science, Cook summarizes things so well here again that I think it’s pointless to do anything but repost his summary comments:

Science isn’t a house of cards, ready to topple if you remove one line of evidence. Instead, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. As the body of evidence builds, we get a clearer picture of what’s driving our climate. We now have many lines of evidence all pointing to a single, consistent answer – the main driver of global warming is rising carbon dioxide levels from our fossil fuel burning.

There it is. Along with his 119 one-liners for disputing a climate denier’s claims, here is another great summary of the topics and the scientific conclusions.

Image Credit: John Cook/Skeptical Science




Natural and Man-Made Causes of Global Warming

Global warming is the increase in the earth’s average temperature due to release of several greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by humans. Global warming is affecting many parts of the world. Due to global warming, the glaciers are melting which is causing the rise in the sea level. When the level of the sea rises, it causes danger to the people living in the low lying areas.

When the level of the sea rises, it covers the plants and causes some of them to die. When they die, animals lose their main source of food. We, human beings lose our two sources of food, plants and animals. It may also force people to lose their homes. In other words, the whole chain will get affected if nothing is done on time to stop global warming from spreading its wings.

With the global temperature increasing by 3%, many believe that global warming is on the climb. Right away, experts will say it’s time to save energy: Turn off lights not in use, or carpool with your annoying co-worker who loves knock-knock jokes. We’ve all heard the advice by scientist greatly involved in global warming, and while their argument rests firm in data and conclusive research, are we the only ones causing global warming? The answer to that is a tricky one.

The United Nations formed a group of scientists called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC to review the latest scientific findings and write a report summarizing all that is known about global warming.

More from global warming:

Here are the top natural and man-made causes of global warming.

Top 5 Natural Causes of Global Warming

1. Forest Fires:Deforestation by nature is another leading cause of global warming. Natural forest fires are usually televised on the news, showing the devastation of mountain homes and communities. While this loss is tragic, the effects of these natural occurring forest fires pose a problem for the earth’s air. Forest fires emit carbon-filled smoke into the atmosphere, and new forests’ growth is slow and not stable enough to produce the much needed oxygen into the newly, suffocating carbon air. Natural forest fires will eventually run their course, but left in the ashes are polluting gases that get trapped in the atmosphere.

2. Permafrost: When frozen soil, constituting about 25% of the Northern Hemisphere, increases, it keeps in the carbon and methane gases. So, while you may be thinking how it can be global warming when you’re still freezing in Tibet, the permafrost is actually leaking carbon into the earth’s atmosphere. While scientists cannot stop permafrost from emitting these gases, the earth’s melting icecaps at incredibly fast rates, are cause for concern.

3. Sunspots: Definitely more contributing than your four legged friend are solar flares from the sun. According to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), sunspots are increasing global temperature. Sunspots restrict the passing of solar plasma, which in affect gives off radiation. You don’t have to work for NASA to know radiation is a bad thing. Sunspots and solar flares are powerful and unstoppable. They can change the energy radiating to earth’s atmosphere, and thus increase climate temperature. Solar flares, however have been a natural occurring event for millions of years. If only sunspots and solar flares were to blame, the world’s recent increased temperature would barely move.

4. Water Vapor: If you only thought NASA was busy planning moon missions and orbiting outer space, think again. According to NASA, two-thirds of the gases stuck in the thick blanket is in the form of water vapor. This hitch in tow effect means rising temperature, rising vapor. The water vapor is unable to escape, and thus results in hotter climate changes. NASA continues to work on water vapor solutions to reduce their effect on global warming.

5. Man’s Best Friend: Our friendly, furry, bizarre, and sometimes extreme pals in the animal kingdom are also to blame, sort of. While animals also breathe out carbon dioxide and methane, their small contribution is miniscule compared to humans and their consumption of non-renewable energy. Nature’s animal release of carbon dioxide, although minor, is still a natural causing factor in releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Top 7 Man-Made Causes for Global Warming

1. Man-induced Deforestation: Deforestation is the cutting down of trees and plants to make way for any development activity. Mother nature taking out an entire forest is one thing, but man doing it for the use of crop cultivation, fuel, and other consumption, is another. Each day our forests are bulldozed for the prospect of farms and factories. Fuel used for wood and charcoal only adds to the polluted gases in the atmosphere. Our consumer commodities provided by forestry includes paper and lumber. The loss of our forests results in a chain reaction where too much carbon is released into the air, with not enough oxygen to combat it.

This means that it is very important to protect our trees to stop the greenhouse effect, and also so we can breathe and live. Deforestation is blamed for rise in the greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere by cutting or burning them. New development projects, requirement of land for homes and factories, requirement for wood and also soil erosion are the major factors that are causing deforestation, which in turn leading to global warming.

2. Fossil Fuels: Pollution whether it is vehicular, electrical or industrial is the main contributor to the global warming. Everyday billions of vehicles release various gases into the atmosphere. This causes earth to warm up and increase its average temperature. Electricity causes pollution in many ways. Over 75% of the electricity worldwide is produced by burning of fossil fuels. Many gases are sent into the air when fossil fuels are burnt of which main is the carbon dioxide gas.

Fossil fuel like coal is burnt to produce electricity. Coal is the major fuel that is burnt to produce power. Coal produces around 1.7 times as much carbon dioxide per unit of energy when flamed as does natural gas and 1.25 times as much as oil.

We’re all well aware of the vast amounts of energy consumed everyday by humans everywhere since our first memories. Nearly 40% of the U.S. release of carbon dioxide is due to the burning of fossil fuels-gasoline and electricity in our homes. Finding sources for renewable energy, clean burning fuel options, and methods to cut back the amount of energy exhausted, could cut that 40% significantly.

Industries on the other hand release various gases into the water and air. Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are the major greenhouse gases. Different gases have different heat trapping capabilities. Some of them trap more heat than carbon dioxide. Methane is much more effective then carbon dioxide in entrapping heat in the atmosphere. By driving cars, using electricity from coal fired plants and heating up our homes from natural gases, we release carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases in the atmosphere.

3. Landfills: When we throw garbage out of our house it goes to landfills. Landfills are those big chunks of garbage that stink and can be seen in so many places around the world. The garbage is then used by big recycling companies to make some useful products out from it.

Most of the time that garbage is burnt which releases toxic gases including methane into the atmosphere. These enormous amounts of toxic greenhouse gases when go into the atmosphere make global warming worse.

4. Overpopulation: Another cause of global warming is overpopulation. Since carbon dioxide contributes to global warming, the increase in population makes the problem worse because we breathe out more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. More people means more demand for food, more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, more demand for cars and more demand for homes.

More demand for food will lead to more transportation since movement of goods and services is done by transportation sector. More demand for cars means more pollution in the air and more traffic on the roads which means longer waiting time on the traffic lights and that will result in burning of more fuel. More demand for homes means cutting down of plants and trees to make way for homes, schools and colleges.

5. Mining: Oil and coal are two main culprits in producing greenhouse gases. Methane, like carbon dioxide creates a thick shield over the atmosphere trapping the sun’s rays. With the continued use of mining operations, these harmful gases will only increase.

6. Fertilizer Use: Think of the countless farmlands across the heartland of America. The unique thing about fertilizer is that it produces nitrous oxide once it absorbs the soil. Nitrous oxide is 300 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide. The EPA strongly warns that the farming industry’s use of fertilizer is one of the leading causes of global warming.

7. Meat Consumption: Remember earlier when the animal world was sort of to blame for emitting carbon dioxide into the air? Well, the bigger party to blame is us. Due to our Western diet and habits, the raising, grazing, and manufacturing of animal products contributes greatly to the rise of global temperature. According to research, 51% of the greenhouse gases: methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide are caused by animal agriculture. If we would stop ordering juicy cheeseburgers, excessive amounts of carbon dioxide by animals stop emitting the atmosphere.

There are a number of natural causing factors involved in global warming. While scientists continue to observe and study sunspots, water vapor, and permafrost, there is little that can be done to penetrate such vast forces. What we can do, however, is truly evaluate and prioritize how we treat and value our planet. Global warming contributes to not only the fall of ecosystems, weather patterns, and rises in sea levels, but the overall quality of life we wish for on this planet. There are many things we can do to help reduce the amount of energy we consume. Switching to renewable energy, changing lifestyles and diets, and controlling our consumption of non-renewable products, can greatly make a huge difference. The future of the earth is in our hands. So, is global warming Nature’s fault or ours?

References: Global warming causes
Image credit: Mikko Luntiala , Billy Wilson

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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