Global warming is a gradual rise in Earth’s temperature over a given period. Various sources have different opinions and findings as to what exactly is happening to the global climate (1). One source, the U. S. National Research Council, which is a leading science policy body, states that currently the Earth’s temperature had been the hottest in the last 400 years. Accordingly, this time span could expand to 2000 years. The rise shown on record was between 0. 3 – 0. 6 degree Celsius over the last century, and the expectation is it would rise more at the end of this century.
The warming is attributed to the greenhouse gases that include carbon dioxide and methane accumulated in the upper atmosphere due to human activity such as fossil oil burning, industrial and agricultural activities, and deforestation, whether it is done for farming or logging. Establishments such as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are claiming it is possible that climate change could have an effect on life on the planet currently, while the problem could get worse in the future since the change could affect the sea level, could introduce desertification and droughts by changing the pattern of precipitation around the globe.
In addition, there could be change in agricultural yields, retreating glaciers, some species becoming extinct, and an increase on the vector of diseases. In all this, some are looking at solar variability to be the other contributor to global warming despite the fact that the available measurement covers only 30 years making this assumption unreliable. The Goddard Institute Studies of NASA had concluded that the solar variable increase alone cannot be responsible for the rise in temperature.
According to its finding, the main culprits are the greenhouse gasses. Another establishment the United Nations on its February 2007 report had also concluded that the cause of the global warming is an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and methane concentration in the atmosphere, mostly created because of human activity (2). No one disputes the existence of the greenhouse effect, which is a natural occurrence and the known greenhouse gasses had a mean warming capability of 33 degree Celsius. Without such a temperature, the Earth will not be inhabitable.
The concern recently had been how much human activity has contributed to the elevating of the amount of the gasses in the atmosphere. The other major greenhouse gas, water vapor that causes up to 36-70 percent of the greenhouse effect is more or less out of the control of human beings. Carbon dioxide the other major culprit believed to be the outcome of human activity has between 9-26 percent effect. Methane, which is the outcome of mostly agricultural activity has an effect of between 4-9 percent. The other one the ozone has an effect of between 3-7 percent.
The recorded atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and methane since the 1750 pre-industrial level has increased by 31 percent and 149 percent respectively. About three-quarters of the increase in carbon dioxide had been recorded to be from human activity where fossil fuel burning had been the case especially in the last 20 years, whereas the remaining had been due to deforestation. When looking on the feedback process the amount of carbon dioxide that is prevalent in the air could affect the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.
This is due to the fact that whenever there is excess warming because of carbon dioxide, more water will evaporate. Since the water vapor itself is the major part of the greenhouse gases, the higher concentration causes more warming leading to more water vapor entering the atmosphere. Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence that proves the high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is contributing to weather change where the Earth has become warmer because of it. The reality is Earth’s climate changes constantly and the cause still is not very clear for those who are studying it.
Global warming is not a recent phenomenon since it had been around for a long time. Factors such as solar variations and the tilts on Earth’s orbiting around the sun could also contribute for the global warming. Volcanoes had been around from time immemorial and whenever they occur they contribute for global warming in a significant way. Forest fire had been and still is a natural phenomenon for the most part that could add to the greenhouse gasses and it has proven difficult to prevent. In all this, what the involved 0.
6 degree Celsius increase on the Earth’s temperature after 1860 from thermometer reading reveals is all what human activity contributed to the global warming and for the increase of the greenhouse gasses is miniscule by any standard and should not be a concern of such high magnitude. In addition, when taking into consideration almost 80 percent of the increase of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere occurred after 1940 due to the recorded industrial expansion that ensued because of World War II, the concern that the high rising level of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is due to human activity is not substitutable scientifically (3).
Human factor Is Not the Main Cause of Global Warming There are opponents and proponents to the premise that it is human activity that is responsible for whatever global warming recorded and there are those who fear the effect will be devastating unless it is possible to introduce some measures. With the same token, others say that the most likelihood of the global warming is beneficial for the globe as well as for the people that inhabit it.
This means there is no a global warming threat and the temperature rise that had been recorded in recent years has much more advantage than the fear of a catastrophic disaster the proponents of global warming that is induced by human activity are forecasting for the near and distant future. This is because there is no solid evidence to support what the proponents are claiming. It is also possible that politics and alarmist reporting methods could be contributing to the belief that current human activity is pumping a dangerous level of greenhouse gases into the atmospheres.
Even if it is possible to discern that fossil fuel burning and other human activities are responsible for raising the level of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which in its turn is responsible for the raising of the global temperature, the outcome is not devastating for Earth as some are trying to portray it (4). Some level of carbon dioxide derived from fossil oil burning could be a pollutant although such outlook lacks scientific support.
Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the atmosphere and responsible for maintaining plant life, as well as is part of the natural mechanism that controls the eco system. The amount raised from human activity especially after the industrial revolution has not contributed significantly to the global warming since some of the major global warming incidents occurred before that defying the fact that the greenhouse gases caused by human activity have not contributed significantly to the global warming.
In fact, the scientific evidence is without the greenhouse effect the Earth will be too cold for inhabiting. Since carbon dioxide is also essential for plant physiology its absence could devastate plant life, whereas its abundant presence could have an opposite effect, hence carbon dioxide as such is not doing harm to Earth. What all human activities after the industrial revolution added to the already existing amount of carbon dioxide is a mere 30 percent.
Historically, starting from 1940 up to the 1980s was the period where there was an escalated amount of human activity that resulted in burning a much higher level of fossil fuels. However, the reality had been during these years the global temperature had cooled down to the point where some scientists were about to declare a new ice age was in the making. According to the U. S. National Academy of Sciences, the trend of the cooling of the Earth did not continue past the 1980s and a precise surface measurement had shown that there was an increase of 0. 25 – 0.
4 degree Celsius, whereas the atmospheric measurement showed no rise in temperature. The observed reality had been, for the four decades after 1940, the Earth’s temperature had cooled down and for the remaining two decades the recording was a rise of 0. 3 degree Celsius. When that is for surface measurement, the measurement made on the atmosphere had shown there was no change in the atmospheric temperature. The reason attributed for that is urban centers create heat islands that could boost the temperature level if the measurement takes place around such centers.
Another assumption that used was soot and dust from volcanic activity had the capacity to block the sun’s ray resulting in cooling the temperature of the atmosphere. This assumption is disputed simply because the surface would have been cooled through the same process simply because the particles would prevent the sunray from reaching Earth. What is possible to surmise from such observations is it is possible that the Earth could be coming out of the 600 years Ice Age and will follow this trend for some time into the future until the next Ice Age comes around.
Such assumptions demonstrate the fact that scientists still do not have the complete answer about the environment. In fact, one of the method that they claim will be accurate is using computer simulation that had fallen short of getting at the answers simply because it has many shortcomings. There are also other overlooked causes feared either to contribute to the cooling or heating up of the temperature. These are aerosols, very small particles that will enter the atmosphere from numerous sources that include burning fossil fuel or dust particles that could originate from desert dusts or volcanoes.
What these small particles could do is block the sunray from reaching Earth and that could contribute to the cooling of the Earth’s surface. Since they can absorb heat, they could also cause the atmosphere to get hotter. Consequently, even if establishments such as IPCC twice had indicated, once in 1996 and again in 2001 that humans are the contributors of the greenhouse effect through their day-to-day activities, what they are relaying is the outcome of computer simulation whose accuracy is in doubt simply because there are many elements that cannot be made part of the simulation (5).
In spite of the shortcomings, the outcome had been the center of attention and the major cause to the coming into existence of the Kyoto protocol that recommends humans should curtail their use of fossil fuel to the level that was prevalent before 1990 in order to avoid further damage to the environment. However, the trend tends to be that science is not anymore focusing on carbon dioxide alone to be the main culprit when it comes to the global warming resulting in loosening the stance that it is humans who are contributing to the global warming (6).
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 18 December 2016
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