Why Is Our Climate Changing?

A variety of “natural” and “anthropogenic” (caused by humans) forces are at work in the process of climate change. Climate change has always occurred on Earth, as shown by the geological record; the fast pace and extent of climate change now taking place is of significant worry to the world at large. Atmospheric greenhouse gases act as heat sinks. Since the Industrial Revolution, human activity has resulted in a rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases, which has resulted in higher heat retention and elevated surface temperatures. Aerosols may alter the microphysical and chemical characteristics of clouds in the atmosphere, as well as the scattering and absorption of sunlight, infrared radiation, or both. Land use has also affected the quantity of the Sun reflected back into space by the Earth, such as deforestation.

Global Warming

With an average worldwide temperature of 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels in 2019, the decade 2011-2020 was the hottest ever recorded. There is now a 0.2°C increase in human-induced global warming per decade. Natural and human health and well-being are negatively impacted by a rise of 2°C compared to pre-industrial periods, with a substantially increased likelihood of harmful and maybe catastrophic climatic changes. So, the world community has agreed to keep warming below two °C and pursue measures to keep it below 1.5°C.

Greenhouse Gasses

Heat cannot escape from the atmosphere because of certain gases. The term “forcing” climate change refers to long-lived gases that persist in the atmosphere indefinitely without reacting physically or chemically to temperature changes. Feedbacks are gases, such as water vapor, that respond physically or chemically to temperature changes. The following gases are involved in the greenhouse effect:

  • Water Vapour

In addition to being the most common greenhouse gas, ozone plays a critical role in the climate by providing a feedback mechanism to the atmosphere. As the atmosphere of the Earth heats, not only does the amount of water vapor grow but so does the likelihood of clouds and precipitation. As a result, they are some of the most effective feedback processes contributing to the greenhouse effect.

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Deforestation, land-use changes, and the combustion of fossil fuels all contribute to the release of carbon dioxide, a relatively tiny but still significant gas in the atmosphere. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, CO2 content in the atmosphere has grown by 48 percent. This is the most important “force” of climate change that will last for a long time.

  • Methane

Hydrocarbon gas comes from both natural and human sources, such as the decomposition of trash in landfills, agriculture, especially the growing of rice, the digestion of ruminants, and the management of manure from domestic livestock. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is far more powerful than carbon dioxide when compared molecule to molecule; nevertheless, it is also a gas that is significantly less prevalent in the atmosphere.

  • Nitrous Oxide

Organic and commercial fertilizer usage, fossil fuel combustion, nitric acid synthesis, and biomass burning generate a potent greenhouse gas.

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

There are several instances where international agreements restrict the manufacture and release of synthetic chemicals from industrial sources because of their potential role in ozone layer depletion. They also contribute to global warming since they are potent greenhouse gases.

The Role of Human Activity

Global warming due to human activity is more than 95 percent likely, according to the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), a body of 1,300 independent climatologists from nations across the globe under UN auspices.

During the previous 151 years, the industrial activities that our contemporary society relies on have increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by around 280 parts per million. According to the panel, more than 95% of the observed rise in Earth’s temperature over the last 50 years has been driven by human-produced greenhouse gases such methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide.

Other Causes of Climate Change

 

  • Producing Electrical Power

 

Using fossil fuels to generate power and heat contributes to a significant portion of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Coal, oil, and natural gas are still the primary energy sources, creating greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. More than a quarter of global power comes from wind, solar, as well as other renewable sources, which generate little greenhouse gases or pollutants.

 

  • Manufacturing Goods

 

Factories and industries must use fossil fuels to make cement, iron, electronics, plastics, steel, clothing, and other items. Construction, as well as mining and other industrial operations, all contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Coal, oil, and gas are widely used to power machinery in manufacturing, and certain products, such as plastics, are derived from fossil fuels. Globally, the industrial sector is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

  • Cutting Down Forests

 

When trees are chopped down to produce farmland or pastures or for any other purpose, they leak carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. About 12 million acres of forest are lost every year. Nature’s capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is hampered when forests are cut down. Almost a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, agriculture, and other land-use changes.

 

  • Using Transportation

 

For the most part, everything from vehicles to ships to aircraft relies on the use of fossil fuels. Because of this, transportation is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide. Internal combustion engines in automobiles, such as those powered by gasoline, account for the majority of the use of petroleum-based fuels. However, the amount of pollution emitted by ships and aircraft is growing. Nearly a quarter of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions come from transportation. As a result, the demand for energy for transportation is expected to rise significantly in the future years.

 

  • Food Production

 

Producing food emits carbon dioxide, methane, as well as other greenhouse gases via deforestation and land clearing for agriculture & grazing, consumption by cows and sheep, manufacture and use of fertilizers and waste for growing crops, and use of fossil fuels to drive farm machinery or fishing boats. As a result, food production is a significant contribution to climate change. In addition, the packaging and transportation of food contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

 

  • Powering Buildings

 

Over half of the world’s power is used by residential and commercial structures. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise as they rely on fossil fuels for heating and cooling. The recent growth in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from buildings may be attributed to an increase in heating and cooling demand, as well as an increase in the ownership of air conditioners and an increase in the use of electricity for lights, appliances, and connected devices.

 

  • Excessive Consumption

All of your daily activities, including where you live, how you commute, what you eat, as well as how much waste you generate go a long way toward determining your carbon footprint. And so make purchases of apparel, technological devices, and plastics. Many of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions originate in individuals’ homes. Our way of living has a significant influence on the environment. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the richest one percent of the world’s population is responsible for more than the poorest half of the people.

  • Strength Of the Sun

The Sun is the source of most energy that impacts Earth’s climate. Energy from the Sun travels through space until it reaches the atmosphere of Earth. Only a small fraction of the solar energy that is reflected up into space by the Earth’s atmosphere and absorbed by the upper atmosphere makes it to the surface. This variation in the Sun’s energy output has a direct effect on our climate.