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What Are Human Causes Of Climate Change?

December 17th, 2019
topic:Global Warming
by:Murat Suner
tags:climate change, environment

We are experiencing long shifts of climatic conditions that are characterised by a change in temperature, rainfall, winds, and other indicators.

Currently, the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is much higher than in the past years, and its ability to trap heat is changing. 

Burning fossil fuels and deforestation are the primary causes of climate change. It presents a substantial threat to humans and animals now and in the future. The following are some of the biggest human causes of climate change:

Greenhouse gas emission

These gases accumulate in the atmosphere, blocking heat from escaping, and they don't respond to the temperature changes (the greenhouse effect). When they remain for an extended period in the atmosphere, they are likely to cause climate change. 

Greenhouse gas emission is a major human causes of climate change, and their sources include transportation, electricity production, burning fossil fuel in industries, commercial and residential application, agriculture, and land use. These gases include;

• Carbon IV oxide

Carbon dioxide (CO2, or Carbon IV Oxide) is the main greenhouse gas produced through human activities that leads to adverse climate changes. It is a result of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. Fossil fuel generates electricity worldwide, leading to high emissions of CO2. Locomotion is the second-largest source of carbon emission; humans contribute daily to CO2 emissions by use of transport vehicles either for leisure or business purposes. 

Carbon stored in the form of fossil fuels is more stable, and when heated, they release the stored carbon in the form of CO2. If humans couldn't burn these fuels for energy, the carbon is unlikely to reach the atmosphere. 

We use fossil fuel to power cars, machines, and generate electricity, and as the human population increases, more fuel is used, leading to higher CO2 emissions.

• Methane

Methane accounts for about 16 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The petroleum industry and agriculture emit methane, especially from the digestive systems of grazing animals, manure management, and rice cultivation. 

It also accumulates through waste decomposition in landfills. It is a far more active greenhouse gas than CO2.

• Nitrous oxide

Cultivation practices like the use of organic and commercial fertilisers lead to the emission of nitrous oxide. It also accumulates in the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion, nitric acid production, and biomass burning.

• Chlorofluorocarbons

Chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons are used in home appliances like the refrigerator and industrial applications. They are associated with severe atmosphere impacts like ozone layer depletion and heat-trapping.

• Sulphur hexachloride

They are primarily used in dielectric materials like the dielectric liquids and for special medical procedures. Also, they act as insulators in high voltage applications like the transformers and grid switching gear.

Deforestation

Deforestation is one of the major human causes of climate change; trees capture greenhouse gases such as CO2, preventing them from accumulating on the atmosphere, which could result in warming our planet. Most forests are getting cleared to create space for agriculture, buildings, and other human activities. 

Trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen to the atmosphere during photosynthesis; hence, surplus carbon iv oxide is stored in the plants to help in growth and development. When we cut trees, their stored CO2 gets emitted to the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. 

Trees also help in regulating regional rainfall which prevents floods and drought in the area, cutting down trees influences the rainfall patterns globally. Deforestation also leads to changes in the landscape and the earth's surface's reflectivity, which leads to increased absorption of energy from the sun that results in global warming leading to changes in climate patterns.

Agriculture

Food is a basic human need, but before you get it on your table, it goes through production, storage, processing, packaging, transportation, and preparation. Every stage of food production releases substantial amounts of greenhouse gases. Agriculture is one of the most common human causes of climate change through emissions of gases and the conversion of forests to agricultural land. 

The modern agriculture practices and food production method using synthetic fertilisers are great contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and climate change. The introduction of large scale farming has led to deforestation and machine intensive farming, which contributes to carbon emissions. 

In livestock farming, ruminant animals digest their food through enteric fermentation that results in methane production; there are also substantial methane emissions from irrigated rice fields. Generally, agriculture contributes to climate change through deforestation, biodiversity loss, acidification of the oceans through agricultural chemical wastes, and accelerated soil erosion.

Industrialisation

Although the industrial revolution, and industrialisation, has led to improved living conditions in various aspects, it is associated with adverse environmental effects that cause climatic changes. With recent innovations, human labour has been replaced with machinery that uses new sources of energy in the industries. 

Manufacturing involves the use of large amounts of power and the alteration of natural systems; it is directly responsible for domestic emissions and indirect emissions through electricity and fuel use. The manufacturing operations are linked to direct greenhouse gas emissions, for instance, in the production of chemicals, iron, or steel, which are highly energy-intensive. 

People are moving to urban areas in search of employment; urbanisation is another great contributor to climate change. It results in overcrowding, pollution, and poor sanitation; massive urbanisation can also lead to deforestation, emission of more greenhouse gases.

Increased commercialisation and industrialisation increase the use of fossil fuels leading to global warming and climate change.

Conclusion

Human emissions and activities have caused the highest percentage of global warming, which has resulted in climate change, in recent years. The global warming indicators are clear from increased temperature, humidity changes, sea level rising, showing that the land is warming up very fast due to fossil emissions, and thus changing the climate. 

Any farmer can tell that the weather patterns have been altered, which is likely to affect food security worldwide. The fingerprints that humans have left on the environment through industrial activities and civilisation can be seen in the oceans, atmosphere, and the earth's surface.

Article written by:
murat sw portrait
Murat Suner
Co-founder, Editorial Board Member, Author
Burning fossil fuels and deforestation are the primary causes of climate change.
Methane accounts for about 16 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Any farmer can tell that the weather patterns have been altered, which is likely to affect food security worldwide.