The Human Impact on the Global History of Climate Change

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The Human Impact on the Global History
Of
Climate Change

A Research Paper by
Justin Slater

Are humans responsible for the destruction of their habitat also known as Mother Nature? Human-made pollution is obvious; from trash in local streams and rivers to plumes of carbon dense smoke billowing out of power plants; it has become quite clear that sustainability is not a priority. Also, our resources are being used and abused much faster than the earth can replenish and recover. Within the past 10 years this abuse of Mother Nature has become a topic of great interest. This interest has been labeled as the “green movement,” and it advocates stress awareness of waste and pollution and includes its effect on the environment. The most publicized consequence of our non-earth friendly actions is global warming. This theory is blindly adopted with little scientific evidence because it justifies the worlds’ need to “go green.” When the overwhelming facts concerning greenhouse gasses, and the sheer amount of waste humans produce is taken into account, there is no wonder global warming is justified in peoples’ minds. Over the past 150 years human activities have released increasing quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This has led to increases in mean global temperature, or “global warming.” Other human effects are relevant—for example, sulphate aerosols are believed to have a cooling effect. Natural factors also contribute. According to the historical temperature record of the last century, the Earth's near-surface air temperature has raised around 1.3 ± 0.32 ° Fahrenheit (Wikipedia, 2012). Although human induced global warming is a popular theory, it is misleading because climate change has occurred throughout history, our most recent period of warming ended over ten years ago, and the earth is currently in a state of cooling. The scientific truth is that climate change is nothing new. In the life span of the Earth, a climate where humans could have inhabited the planet is mere smudges on the planet’s climate time-line. Starting with the big bang over 13.7 billion years ago, the earth has experienced cycles of hot flashes and freezing spells (Sorokhtin, Chilingar, and Khilyuk, 2007, p. 2). As recently as 650 million years ago the earth was frozen solid. This period of 10 million years is known as “Snowball Earth”. After this period, volcanoes began to erupt which produced greenhouse gasses that naturally warmed the earth. Over the next 400 million years, global temperatures rose and fell allowing for small life forms to succeed. Plants, cold-blooded animals, and insects did well during this time (Hulme, 2009). Then, quite suddenly, there was a mass extinction. Over 95% of the earth’s species died due to flood basalt eruptions lasting for one million years. The earth’s temperatures rose an impressive 18 degrees F due to a 700% increase in carbon dioxide during this time. It then took 195 billion years for the blanket of carbon dioxide to dissipate and the earth to cool (Köhler, Bintanja, Fischer, Joos, Knutti, Lohmann, and Masson-Delmotte, 2010). The time spans of these major climatic events far surpass any current data time frames. In comparison to a human life span, the earth moves at a snail’s pace. Any temperature fluctuations observed currently are not significant enough to say that humans have impacted the current natural occurrence. At about 55 million years ago another 20 degrees F increase occurred due to increased methane gas. Over the next 40 million years, temperatures continued to fluctuate, allowing for the polar ice caps to expand and retreat. Since this last temperature change, the climate has stayed relatively stable with an ice age occurring in between every 10,000 years. When temperatures warmed, woolly mammoths and other mega mammals that thrived during the ice age could not survive, while humans were able to adapt (Marsh, 2007). However, it would be ignorant to think climate change would...
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