Human Causes of Climate Change, Part I

Climate change. It’s a term thrown around in many conversations about global warming, the environment and sustainability. But what exactly is climate change, and how do we affect climate change as individuals and as a society?

What are the human causes of climate change? How does our collective carbon footprint affect the atmosphere and the weather? What can be done to lessen the human impact on our planet.

Below, we’ve investigated some of the main human causes of climate change. In further posts, we will cover steps we can take to lessen these negative impacts.

The Science Behind Climate Change

It is true that the Earth’s changing climate is a natural occurrence, and that periods of both heating and cooling have occurred numerous times throughout the planet’s history. Today, however, most scientists agree that humans have a significant impact on climate change and the overall warming of our planet.

In a nutshell, most of this impact comes from heat and gasses that radiate from Earth back towards space. These gasses become trapped in the atmosphere, intensify in heat and then re-radiate back to Earth.  This phenomenon is more commonly referred to as “the greenhouse effect.” Some of the top “greenhouse gasses” produced from both human and natural activities include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor, F-gasses, and tropospheric ozone.

If the greenhouse effect becomes too severe, it could have vast and devastating consequences to our planet, the environment and life on Earth as we know it.

Carbon Emissions

You may have heard the term “carbon footprint” before. This term refers to the measure of carbon emissions each of us produces in our everyday lives, through activities such as driving, working, cooking and other daily activities.

Your carbon footprint, when combined with your neighbors’, friends’ and the global community’s, add up to produce greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.

Top Human Contributors to Climate Change

The top activities that lead to the human causes of climate change include:

  • The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and carbon dioxide  (driving your car, heating your home, etc.)
  • Industrial processes (pollution from factories, product production, etc.)
  • Agriculture (conversion of land, etc.)
  • Conversion of land for forestry
  • Decomposition of wastes in landfills

So, what can we do to make a change? Stay tuned for upcoming posts on our website, where we’ll be investigating how we can lessen the human causes of climate change and the resulting negative impacts on our planet.

Do you have a question or comment to add on this topic? We’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as suggestions for solutions to the problem of human causes of climate change. Let us know in the comments, below or via Facebook and/or Twitter!

Resources:

http://epa.gov/climatestudents/basics/today/greenhouse-effect.html

http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=65CD73F4-1

http://climate.nasa.gov/causes

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/causes.html

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