Population And Global Warming Essay

982 words - 4 pages

Population and Global Warming

In recent years, people have begun to realize the adverse affects of the technologies we use. The tools that humans use to harness energy change the face of the environment around us. When the industrial revolution began, I am sure that no one thought that the innovation taking place could potentially be the cause of a huge change in our surroundings. People were just doing what they thought was the best course of action at that time: the new utilization of resources for the growing population. Unfortunately, we have not retained the same sense of well being.

The shift in energy resources allowed for an increased population or, conversely, an increasing population required the invention of new tools to deal with the environment surrounding humans. Not only were more people needed to man the machines, but more humans could be supported because of the increase in agricultural yield and the new lands that had opened up for colonization. There was the feeling of continuous well being and expansion. I do not think that we are out of the expansionist mindset: the population boom figures prove this. For most organisms, a population grows and then reaches a plateau; in effect, an s-shaped curve. Humans are not following this pattern, or have not reached their plateau. Yet as of now, the human population is increasing exponentially and shows no signs of stopping. The use of resources has expanded to match the continued growth. Because of our history of degradation, growth just means more pressure on the earths systems.

The industrial age began a time in which humans were not just altering their visible surroundings, but began to change the make up of these surroundings as well. Without knowing it, humans began to change the chemical cycles that had been going on around them forever. The environment is made up of many carefully managed check and balance systems. The most important one of these, in terms of climate change, is the carbon cycle.

The carbon cycle is a good example of a natural balance system. The carbon cycle contains three parts: terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric pools. Carbon moves between these three parts, changing phases and moving through organisms. Plants fix carbon by using CO2 in photosynthesis, while humans and other animals release carbon (CO2) into the atmosphere through respiration. Decomposition also releases carbon into the atmosphere. Humans have altered this cycle drastically by adding a new source of carbon: that of fossil fuels, carbon-rich sediments that have been part of the terrestrial carbon pool for thousands of years. By burning there fuels, humans have started to change the finely balanced system. [1]

The atmosphere is the section of the carbon cycle that changes the most rapidly: CO2 does not necessarily remain in the atmosphere for long as there are many ways for it to be moved back to...

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