Global Warming: Natural or Manmade?

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Amber McGraw
American Intercontinental University
Unit 1 Individual Project
BUSN300-1005A-11: Lower Division Capstone 
November 11, 2010

Abstract
The impacts of global warming vary depending upon perspective and in this paper I will discuss the debate of whether global warming is caused by human activity and carelessness or whether it is just a normal part of the Earth’s natural cyclical processes.

Global Warming: Natural or Manmade?
Global Warming has been an intriguing and worrisome subject amongst environmentalists, scientists and society alike, especially in the last few decades, but is global warming a topic to raise concern or just a normal phase in the nature climate cycles of Earth. In order to determine who or what is to blame for the recent change in the Earth’s climate, we must first review the findings of both sides. We must take into account the normal cycles of climate change that our planet cyclically goes through as well as the abnormal changes that have taken place since the industrial period when the impact on the climate could be attributed to humans.

Scientists have been studying the climate trend on Earth for many years through the different cycles that occur here. One of the cycles is referred to as the hydrologic cycle, which is the process of Earth’s water constantly being cycled through reservoirs in the oceans, in the air and on the land (Egger, 2003). Scientists have found that the amount of water on Earth is constant and only changes or cycles during different climate periods. For instance, during warmer periods of climate change glaciers melt and in turn cause a rise in sea level, but the amount of water does not change. The water is only cycled from a solid (glacier) to a liquid (water) and when the planet is in a cooler climate period, we see glaciers grow and sea levels drop. As the sea levels rise there is more water that can be warmed by the Sun and since water expands as it gets warmer, the sea levels will continue to rise. The increased speed of the hydrologic cycling can also be attributed as the cause for the more severe and more frequent occurrences of tropical storms since the temperatures are higher causing more water to evaporate which causes more precipitation (Egger, 2003).

If we take a look at the historical records of glaciers we will find that the hydrologic cycle effect has indeed taken place. There is evidence that over the last few centuries glaciers have melted, expanded and changed position on all continents due to the changing climate on Earth. When we review the observation history of the glaciers in the Arctic we will also find that 80% of them have lost mass since the Little Ice Age at a steady rate, but there is no evidence suggesting that the decrease in size has been exacerbated but the industrialization of the world (Avery & Singer, 2005). There is no data to suggest that during the carbon dioxide spike of the 21st century this process has been sped up by humans. The historical records of the Arctic glaciers explain that before the year 1200, the glaciers melted for a few centuries during a warming period referred to as the Medieval Warming, but then began to expand or grow in the 15th, 17th and late 19th centuries (Avery & Singer, 2005).

The changes in the size and mass of the world’s glaciers can also be attributed to the changes in the Earth’s circumnavigation around the sun causing cyclical changes on the planet. There are cycles that cause alterations in the amount of solar radiation that reaches Earth and this cycling is referred to as the Milankovitch Cycles (Locke, 2010). The Milankovitch Cycles refer to the location of the solar energy and the reoccurring patterns of solar energy within a year’s time.

According to the Milankovitch Cycle the first factor contributing to the Earth’s climate is the shape of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun which ranges from an elliptical shape to an almost perfect circle (Locke, 2010)....
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