June 25, 2014
EC Climate Change Paper
What I Think Is Causing Climate Change
Upon completing the summer course of environmental science, I have learned plenty of information about the environment around us. I learned that there are many factors that can cause climate change in the world. I now know that climate change isn’t just caused by people in the world, or just the world changing slowly. I believe that the change is a combination of both humans and the environment together. I learned that there are multiple changes in the environment that are making the climate change. For example, the burning of fossil fuels and the conversion of land for forestry and agriculture are contributing to changes in the climate. Earth’s climate also can be affected by natural factors that are external to the climate system, such as changes in volcanic activity, solar output, and the Earth's orbit around the Sun. Changes in solar irradiance have contributed to climate trends over the past century but since the Industrial Revolution, the effect of additions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere have been about ten times that of changes in the Sun’s output, meaning that the sun is causing slight climate change, but not a significant amount of change. The Earth has a natural greenhouse effect where certain gases (known as greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere allow the sunlight to enter but absorb the heat radiation. Because these gases absorb the heat, they keep the average surface temperature on Earth around 14°C. Without the natural greenhouse effect, the Earth’s average surface temperature would be around -19°C (US EPA). Without the greenhouse gasses being absorbed by Earth, the temperature of our planet would rise, creating change in our atmosphere. It would change the living conditions of humans, animals, and plants, which would then have an impact on Earth itself. Human activity contributes to climate change as well. Use of the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere affects the climate. Industrial processes produce a wide variety of aerosols depending on what is being burned or produced in the manufacturing process. Exhaust emissions from transport generate a rich cocktail of pollutants that are either aerosols from the outset, or are converted by chemical reactions in the atmosphere to form aerosols. These things have caused global warming. In addition, the effect of deforestation is estimated to be at high latitudes where the albedo of snow-covered land, previously forested (US EPA). This is because snow on trees reflects only about half of the sunlight falling on it, whereas snow-covered open ground reflects about two-thirds of the sunlight(Government of Canada). Changes in the tilt of the earth have led lead to small but climatically important changes in the strength of the seasons, more tilt means warmer summers and colder winters; less tilt means cooler summers and milder winters. Slow changes in the Earth’s orbit also have led lead to small but climatically important changes in the strength of the seasons over tens of thousands of years. The Sun’s energy output appears constant from an everyday point of view, but small changes over an extended period of time can lead to climate changes. Some scientists suspect that a portion of the warming in the first half of the 20th century was due to an increase in the output of solar energy. As the sun is the fundamental source of energy that is instrumental in our climate system it would be reasonable to assume that changes in the sun's energy output would also cause the climate to change. In conclusion, climate change will always be occurring. But what we do know, is that humans aren’t the only cause of climate change. We can do things like conserve water, and turn off the lights when we leave our houses. We can keep the use of our air conditioner and heaters to a minimum use, and much more to try to slow changes in the climate. But we need to constantly remind ourselves, that humans aren’t the only reason as to why the climate is changing. Because Earth is moving and constantly changing without the humans causing the change, I think Earth too is to blame for the change in our climate.
"Causes of Climate Change." Government of Canada, Environment Canada.N.p., 10 Dec. 2013. Web. 22 June 2014. . "Causes of Climate Change." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 18 Mar. 2014. Web. 22 June 2014. .