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Global Warming: Human Activities Are The Cause

1905 words - 8 pages

The global warming and cooling periods throughout Earth’s history are undeniable facts. However, the most recent global warming trend is the result of humans increased use and burning of hydrocarbons. Our continued dependence on hydrocarbons releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere and increases the heat-trapping attribute of the greenhouse gas effect. Even though measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been taken, it may be too late. Human activities have already damaged the atmosphere and may lead to our destruction.
There are two types of global warming. The first is natural and takes decades or centuries for it to be fully felt. The second is caused by human activities. The result of man-made global warming can be felt much earlier. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide and methane have increased dramatically, 39% and 149% respectfully (Akorede, Hizam, Ab Kadir, Aris, & Buba, 2012). These greenhouse gasses have a major radiative effect on the atmosphere, by reflecting most of the sun’s energy back to the earth instead of allowing it to be radiated back into space. Between 1906 and 2005 the average global temperature has increased by .74 ± .18 degrees centigrade, 1.33 ± .32 degrees Fahrenheit, due to the radiative effects of these gasses (Akorede, Hizam, Ab Kadir, Aris, & Buba, 2012). The addition of excess greenhouse gasses is seriously enhancing natural global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control’s (IPCC) climate model projections show an increase of temperature between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees centigrade, 2 and 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit, by the end of the 21st century, when compared to the temperature increase between 1980 and 1999 (Akorede, Hizam, Ab Kadir, Aris, & Buba, 2012).
Studying climates of the past can allow us to predict the natural cycle of the global warming and cooling periods. However, since the industrial revolution the data gets skewed due to human interactions with the environment. Between 1960 and 1999 the radiative effects of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased five times faster than any other 40 year period within the past two millennia (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control, 2007). Also, temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere in the past 50 years have been the highest in the past 1,300 years and more widespread than any other 50 year period (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control, 2007). Humans have inadvertently changed how fast nature goes through warming and cooling periods. Because of this, it is impossible to predict future climates without accounting for human interactions. As stated in an IPCC report, “The rise in surface temperatures since 1950 very likely cannot be reproduced without including anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the model forcings, and it is very unlikely that this warming was merely a recovery from a pre-20th century cold period” (Intergovernmental Panel on...

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