Human Effect on Climate Change

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Very few people doubt that it is normal for there to be climate change. The rotation of the earth on a tilted axis leads to this, as well many natural events, like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and hurricanes. However, human activities are having a much greater impact on climate change. For example, the jump in earths’ population from 1950 through 1985 more than doubled from 2.5 billion to over 5 billion. (Meyer, 1996: 24) The importance of this growth is a drain on the Earths’ resources causing even more altering. It is not as much the altering of these resources that are causing climate change but the type of human activities which are taking place, and the way in which they are impacting the climate. One major influence is increased waste and pollution as a result of burning more fossil fuels. The introduction of chlorofluorocarbons in the mid-20th century, which were used for refrigerants, solvents, and propellants, cause a reaction in the atmosphere that break down the ozone layer. (Meyer, 176) CFL’s and burning of fossil fuel create an added layer of insulation around the earth. Since the earth is naturally surrounded by gases the added human processes cause a phenomenon called the greenhouse effect. This is when these gases change and more heat from the sun is retained than before resulting in planetary temperature rise. Changing of seasons and somewhat consistent weather patterns are a normal occurrence on our planet. However, in the past 30 years there have been many natural disasters that can be attributed to climate change and global warming. Massive earthquakes which subsequently cause tsunamis, hurricanes wreaking havoc in areas they never before touched, volcanoes erupting years before the experts predictions and the melting of ice caps causing sea level rise. It is obvious that our normal weather patterns and temperatures have been and are changing. It wasn’t until 1938 when a Mechanical Engineer named Guy Stewart Callendar challenged the Experts. (Weart, 2) Callendar had confirmed more completely than anyone else that his data proved global warming was occurring. Global warming is not climate change but it is a symptom of climate change. Although, Callendar was not a meteorologist, studying weather patterns was his passion and with every spare minute he analysed all the data he could acquire. He showed through his research that as the industrial era was booming it was doing so while burning fossil fuels. These fuels were emitting millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and subsequently adding to the greenhouse effect and climate change. (Weart, 2) This was the first time in recorded history mankind was able to prove humans were damaging the Earths biosphere. Before the great baby boom of the mid-20th century and prior to the industrial revolution in the eighteenth century carbon dioxide levels were at about 265 ppm and today because of human processes it is about 392 ppm. (Pittock,7) Currently carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing about 2 ppm per year and average world temperature is climbing in step with it. Many experts agree that 400 ppm of carbon dioxide will probably cause a temperature rise of about two to four degrees Fahrenheit. (Gossling and Upham, 3-4) If this occurs so many tipping points will have been crossed, or soon will be crossed, that climate change and global warming will become unstoppable, and the point of no return will have been passed. There are a number of potential sources of human activity that impact climate change. A major consideration is that of cause-and-effect, looking at the type of human activities which take place, and then examining the way in which they may be impacting on the climate in order to create change. Some examples are farming with the fabrication and use of fertilizers and pesticides, manufacturing with burning fossil fuels, deforestation, power stations, cars and other vehicles as well as aircraft. The impact from all of them is...
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