To understand climate change, you mustfirst have an understanding of what climate is. Climate is the usual weather/temperatureof a place on earth. Climate could also change for different seasons in partsof the earth.
Earth’s climate can be calculated by combining all the climatesaround the world together. “Climate change is a change in the usual weatherfound in a place” (Dunbar, Nasa.gov.). Many things can be a cause to climatechange. CO2 has contributed more toclimate change than any other cause between 1950 and 2018. Deforestation isa huge component to the amount of CO2 emitted into the Atmosphere. Forestabsorb greenhouse gases, and produce oxygen for humans and animals to breath.
“Carbondioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities” (“WhatIs Climate Change?”). The total Emissions in 2015equaled 6,587 Million Metric Tons of CO2. In 2015 alone , it was estimated thatCO2 accounted for approximately 82.2% of all United States.
greenhouse gasemissions. This is from human activities. Carbon dioxide is naturally alreadyin the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide emission is a part of the earths carboncycle. Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere naturally when it isabsorbed by plants. This is a part of the biological carbon cycle.
Humanactivities are changing/altering this cycle by adding more CO2 to theatmosphere. The main human activity that emits CO2 into the atmosphere is theuse of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gases, and coal. These can be used fortransportation and energy.
Electricity is a large source of energy in theUnited States. Electricity is primarily used to power homes, businesses, andindustries. The use of fossil fuels in the United States to produce electricitywas the largest source of CO2 emissions in 2015, accounting for approximately35 percent of total CO2, and 29 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Burningcoal produces more CO2 than natural gases or oil.
The use of fossil fuels suchas gasoline for transportation was the second largest source of CO2 emissionsin 2015, accounting for approximately 32 percent of total U.S. CO2 emissionsand 26 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Many industries emit CO2through fossil fuel combustion. Globalcarbon emissions from fossil fuel usage were 9.795 gigatons in 2014 alone (35.9GtCO2 of carbon dioxide).
Fossil fuelemissions were 0.6% above emissions in 2013 and approximately 60% aboveemissions in 1990. “Fossil fuel emissions (including cement production)accounted for about 91% of total CO2 emissions from human sources in 2014” (“GlobalCarbon Emissions”). The 2014 level of CO2 in the atmosphere was 43% above thelevel when the Industrial Revolution started in 1750. To fully assess thethreat of global warming, we must demand action from our elected officials tosupport and implement a set of climate solutions.
A solution would be toexpand the use of renewable energy sources that are cleaner and move away fromnonrenewable energy sources that cause more harm to our environment.” Burningcoal pollutes our environment with toxins, produces a quarter of US globalwarming emissions, and accounts for a whopping 80 percent of all carbonemissions produced by power generation nationwide.”, (“Smart Energy Solutions:Decrease Coal Use.”). There are approximately 1,964,460 coal plants operationaltoday. To decrease our reliance on coal, we need to replace them with reliableclean energy sources.Wind power is verycost-effective. Land-based utility-scale wind is one of the lowest-pricedenergy sources available today that doesn’t severely damage our environment.
Wind power cost between two and six cents per kilowatt-hour. “Wind createsjobs. The U.S. wind sector employed more than 100,000 workers in 2016, and theU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics named wind turbine technician the fastestgrowing American job of the decade” (“Advantages and Challenges of WindEnergy”).
Wind energy alternative has an annual economic impact of about $20billion in just the U.S. alone. It is a clean fuel source. Wind energy does notpollute the atmosphere with toxic chemicals such as coal or natural gases likepower plants that emit particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide,causing human health problems and economic damages.
Wind turbines do notproduce atmospheric emissions that cause smog, or greenhouse gases. Wind isalso a domestic source of energy. Over the past 10 years, wind power capacityin the United States alone increased an average of about 30% per year, and windnow has the largest renewable generation capacity of all renewables in theUnited States.
Wind turbines can be built on existing ranches or farms. Thisbenefits the economy in most rural areas, where the best wind sites are found.The clean carbon planwould help put a limit on the amount of carbon companies can emit. “The CleanPower Plan establishes state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions,and it offers a flexible framework under which states may meet those targets” (“TheClean Power Plan: A Climate Game Changer”). This plan provides for many optionsto reduce carbon emissions and determines state emissions reduction targets byestimating the extent to which states can take advantage of each of them.
States can also join together in multi-state compacts to find the lowest costoptions for reducing their own carbon emissions, including emissions tradingprograms. The opposing side maystate that climate change is due earth’s natural causes non-related to humanactivity. One of the most known explanations is that climate change is due tothe variations in the amount of sunlight that hits earth’s surface. “Variationsin the Sun itself have alternately increased and decreased the amount of solarenergy reaching Earth. Volcanic eruptions have generated particles that reflectsunlight, brightening the planet and cooling the climate” (“Global Warming:Feature Articles”,4).
Volcanic activity has also increased greenhouse gasesover the years, contributing to global warming episodes. Deforestation is also acrucial factor in global climate change. “forests all over the globe are,naturally, so-called ‘carbon sinks’, or areas of natural environment such asoceans that can take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it intooxygen.” (How Does Deforestation Affect Climate Change?).Forests are vital forhuman and animal lives. Forests absorb greenhouse gases that fuel climatechange, keep soil moist by blocking the sun, absorb carbon dioxide and produceoxygen.
Forests cover about 30% of the world’s land area. It is estimated thatdue to cutting and burning of forests every year, more than 1.5 billion tons ofcarbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. If the current rate ofdeforestation continues, there will sadly be no more rainforests inapproximately 100 years.
Some of the main causes of deforestation are:production of wood and timber for essential need such as building homes orfurniture, farmland for agricultural growth, and urbanization which isnecessary because of our increasing population. Solutions to deforestation isone of the most cost-effective ways of stopping climate change. Companies canmake an impact by introducing “No Deforestation” policies that help clean uptheir supply chains.
This would mean having to hold their employers responsiblefor producing goods in ways that contribute to deforestation. Companies shouldalso set realistic targets to maximize the use of recycled wood, pulp, andpaper in their products. Globally, we need commitments to help reducegreenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in developing nations. Forests forClimate is one of the many ways to make that happen. “Forests for Climate is aninnovative proposal for an international funding mechanism to protect tropicalforests.
Under this initiative, developing countries with tropical forests canmake commitments to protecting their forests in exchange for the opportunity toreceive funding for capacity-building efforts and national-level reductions indeforestation emissions.” (“Solutions to Deforestation”). This provides anincentive for developing countries to continually improve and implement theirforest protection programs. Reforestation is the restoration of forests thathave been reduced by fire or felling.
It involves selecting and dedicatinglarge tracts of land mainly for cultivating forests. In local communities andurban centers, it can be done around market areas, in wildlife reserves, withincity parks, or large areas of land. The opposing side couldargue that the “greenhouse effect” causes the atmosphere to retain heat andthat this could be a natural cause of climate change. The United States EPA states, “When sunlightreaches Earth’s surface, it can either be reflected back into space or absorbedby Earth. Once absorbed, the planet releases some of the energy back into theatmosphere as heat (also called infrared radiation)” (“Causes of ClimateChange”). Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and water vaperprevent the loss of heat to space. GHGs act like a blanket, making Earth warmerthan it would be.
This process is what is known as the “greenhouseeffect”. Over the last several hundredthousand years, CO2 levels varied in sync with the glacial cycles. During warmperiods knows as “interglacial periods” CO2 levels were high. During coolperiods known as “glacial periods” CO2 levels were lower.
The temperature ofthe earth’s surface can cause changes in the natural sinks of these gases, andgreenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. “Climate feedbacksamplify or reduce direct warming and cooling effects. They do not change theplanet’s temperature directly” (“Causes of Climate Change”). Positive feedbacksare feedbacks that amplify the changes. Negative feedbacks are feedbacks thatcounteract the changes. Water Vapor causes a positive feedback.
As the earth’stemperature rises, the ability of the air to hold water vapor and the rate ofevaporation rise. This increases the amount of water vaper in the air. Thisleads to further warming.
The melting of the arctic sea is another positivefeedback. The loss of ice exposes the underlying sea surface which is darkerand absorbs more sunlight than ice. `Negative feedbacks sound like they wouldbe the ones to contribute to global warming, but they do just the opposite.Some types of clouds cancause negative feedback. Warming temperatures can increase the reflectivity ofcertain clouds, reflecting even more sunlight back into space.
This cools thesurface of the earth. Other types of clouds contribute a positive feedback. With all thingsconsidered and the evidence that has been analyzed, I believe that climate changeis a result of mankind. I believe that before the industrial revolution naturalcauses were a leading factor of climate change but now that urbanization andmodernization are key factors in the development of our society, mankind is thelargest factor in climate change. If we do not help put a stop to the excessiveamounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, and the deforestation of ourforests, I fear that in the next 200 years the earth will be uninhabitable