Reality and Human Impact
POL203 Position Paper
November 14th, 2012
Climate change is a widely discussed topic in recent history. It has been a topic of debate amongst educators, activists, and politicians. The debates have varied from its impact, importance, and existence. Environmental justice advocates have lobbied for change to be implemented to combat the impacts climate change. Organizations such as 350 (named after the targeted PPM for safe atmospheric CO2 levels) and Artic2007 serve as grassroots movements to bring awareness and change on climate change. Organizations such as the Kyoto Protocol and Copenhagen Climate Council provide a larger, global-level of awareness in climate change. Whether large or small scale, there have been a consistent effort in attempting to prevent and adapt to the effects of global climate change.
Though, efforts have been made to bring awareness to peoples’ minds, its effectiveness is questionable. This is partly due to contrasting views on climate change. Varying perceptions lead to debates and polarizing points of views. Views range from the cause of climate change, in terms of whether or not it is caused by human activity or a natural phenomenon; downplay of its importance; and even its denial of existence. Such conflicting views have made it difficult to create a unifying point-of-view on the topic.
Despite the amount of research and evidence that has been brought forth on the subject of climate change, there are still individuals and politicians that do not stress the causes and effects of climate change. This barrier has lead to menial importance amongst political agendas. Part of the reason is the question as to whether or not human activity is the cause of climate change. More specifically, whether or not greenhouse gases produced by human consumption is a leading factor. This essay will argue that climate change is no longer disputable in terms of existence; rather, human activity has directly impacted climate change and the future implementations of not expressing its urgency.
The industrial revolution over the past three centuries has brought about drastic change to civilization. It created growth and prosperity amongst the world. New processes were created to make mass production capable, agriculture experienced growth, and transportation became more common and convenient with the invention of gas-powered vehicles. However, the industrialized era of the world brought about some other changes, such as increased greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include CO2 emissions, from burning fossil fuels, methane and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or aerosols.
The burning of fossil fuels, which include coal, oil, and natural gas have contributed largely to increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, resulting in climate change. Research has shown that atmospheric levels of CO2 have increased from 280ppm to 367ppm in 1999 (Wang, Liu, Yang 2004). This number has since increased, to 379ppm (“Causes”, 2012). This dramatic increase provides evidence that human industrialization has become a major contributor in atmospheric CO2 levels.
Other contributors to greenhouse gases include methane and CFCs, amongst other things. Methane is a naturally produced gas, however, the levels are increased from waste found in landfills. CFCs, or aerosols are a man-made pollutant that also contributes to climate change.
A report, the Forth Assessment Report, from the Intergovernal Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), a group of 1300 independent scientific experts worldwide has shown that there is a 90% probability that human activity has warmed the Earth in the past 250 years. (“Causes”, 2012). This high probability should be of importance with denialists and politicians that do not emphasize climate change solutions amongst their agendas. It should serve as a motivator to implement effective solutions to...