The Earth goes through natural phases of warming and cooling, due to changes in the Sun and volcanic activity. During these changes, the temperature fluctuates a little bit. However, the drastic incline in the temperature of the earth over the past century cannot be explained by these natural causes alone. What could have had the power to cause this drastic change, and what effect will this have on our planet in the future?
Humans have had a large impact on the average global temperature of the Earth. This is because humans have been releasing more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for a variety of reasons. We are doing this by burning fossil fuels. When fossil fuels are burned, they release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases then remain in the atmosphere, and trap most of the heat from the Sun, causing the global temperatures to increase. There are three main reasons for why humans are beginning to put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The main thing we use fossil fuels is to generate electricity. Most countries in the world, including the United States, get their energy from burning coal and oil, which are both fossil fuels. However, when we burn these fossil fuels, we release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. About 40% of total U.S. CO2 emissions are electricity emissions.
Another thing we use fossil fuels is to support industrialization. Over the 20th century, many countries became industrialized. More and more factories were built. These factories, however, release carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Human-made pollution from factories has enhanced the greenhouse effect causing the global temperature to increase. For example. in China, the economy is greatly focused on industry. Today, China is the country with the most factories, as well as the countries with the most air pollution.
Carbon emissions have increased due to the burning of gasoline for transportation. This, however, is more prominent in developed countries. Developed countries have more people with cars and more transportation services. Air, marine, highway, and rail transportation all contribute to the increase in global temperatures.
Another cause of the increase in global temperatures is deforestation. Deforestation is the loss or destruction of earth’s forests, primarily due to human activities. The Earth’s forests play a critical role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Trees remove and store harmful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. When trees are cut down, they release the greenhouse gases they had been storing. Due to deforestation, less carbon dioxide is captured and removed from the atmosphere. This results in there to be more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which leads to more heat being trapped on Earth, which shows how deforestation contributes to the increasing global temperatures.
The most common effect of the global climate change is that the polar ice caps are melting, causing sea levels to rise. If sea levels continue to rise, then many coastal areas will be submerged underwater. However, most large, densely populated cities are in coastal areas. Therefore, millions of people living in low-lying coastal areas will be displaced if sea levels continue to rise.
The increase in global temperatures could cause disease to spread more rapidly. Bacteria and other parasites are able to survive and reproduce better in warmer conditions. Due to the increasing global temperatures, the parasites will be able to thrive in the warm temperatures. Humans, however, will not benefit from the increase in global temperatures. In fact, this increase in global temperatures will have a detrimental effect on human health.
Increasing global temperatures will also result in more severe tropical storms. Tropical storms, such as hurricanes and cyclones, occur when low-pressure systems develop in the tropics or subtropics. Tropical storms are fueled by warm, moist air. Due to the increase in global temperature, the Earth’s oceans have also begun to become warmer. As the oceans warm, tropical storms become more frequent and intense because there is warmer, moister air to fuel them. There will be more severe tropical storms in the future, due to increasing global temperatures.
One possible effect of the increase in the temperature of the Earth is mass extinction. We have has five major mass extinctions in the past, usually after the end of Ice Ages. During these periods of mass extinction, many species are wiped out. We are experiencing the same species loss today; at almost the exact same rate as it was during the mass extinctions. This is mainly due to habitat destruction. For example, as the polar ice sheets melt, many polar bears are losing their habitats.
As they swim through the ocean, looking for ice, many of them die. Polar bears are now classified as Endangered Species. Over the past 200 years, more than 700 animal species have gone extinct, which means about one species is going extinct every year. Over the next 50 years, within our lifetimes, 1/3 of the Earth’s species could be headed towards extinction. The global increase in temperature could lead to mass extinction.
It is crazy to think that we, humans, can have such a large impact on this planet. What we fail to recognize is that our actions do affect the Earth. We have the power to change the Earth, so let’s change it for the better. Kaur 6
Davenport, Coral. “Climate Change Deemed Growing.” New York Times. 13 May 2014. 20 May 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/us/politics/climate-change-deemed-growing-security-threat-by-military-researchers.html Gillis, Justin. “U.S. Climate Has Already Changed.” New York Times. 06 May 2014. 21 May 2014.< http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/07/science/earth/climate-change-report.html> Halthous, Eric. “What Climate Change Can Do To Your City.” Slate. 01 May 2014. 20 May 2014.