Are Humans the Cause of Global Warming?

Climate change is one of the modern issues affecting the social, economic, and political domains. Climate change is associated with global warming, a phenomenon related to the effect of greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is a concept that dates back to the 1820s (Letcher). It causes a gradual increase in the temperature of the earth, which is attributed to natural and anthropogenic activities. However, there has been a contentious debate about climate change. For example, former U.S. President Trump believed that there was no evidence associating humans as the cause of the earth’s rising temperature. Therefore, this paper explores the cause of global warming to ascertain whether humans are the cause of global warming or not.

            Global warming is largely associated with the rise of CO(carbon dioxide) levels in the atmosphere. Anthropogenic activities were contributing to the concentration of COin the atmosphere (Letcher). For example, the combustion of industrial coal during the industrial revolution emitted CO2­, which raises the temperature of the earth’s surface. Moreover, the discovery to use coal for the production of energy for industrial and commercial use accelerated the effects of global warming. Before the industrial revolution, the concentration of atmospheric COwas 280 molecules per million molecules (ppm). However, the concentration of COafter the industrial revolution was at 413 ppm (Letcher). These findings imply that human activities are the cause of global warming.

                        Deforestation is one of the human activities associated with global warming. Deforestation entails cutting down trees for agricultural practices or economic use of timber. Indirectly, deforestation leads to an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Deforestation in various parts of the world has contributed to the greenhouse effect (Easterbrook). For example, cutting down trees emits carbon dioxide, which mixes with other greenhouse gases hence resulting in increased temperature on earth. Additionally, deforestation contributes up to 10 percent of all global warming emissions (Easterbrook). Therefore, humans indirectly accelerate global warming by engaging in deforestation.

            Technological innovations in modern society have increased the demand for power and energy. Humans have revolutionized the industrial sector using modern technology to increase output. However, the increased use of technology in modern society has amplified the waste heat effect. Bian defines waste heat as unused heat lost to the surrounding environment when converting energy from one form to another (Bian). For example, power plants emit waste heat into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. Heat engines are the main contributors to waste heat. Thus, the combustion of more fuel to increase the efficiency of power plants to achieve their desired energy output releases greenhouse gases through waste heat leading to global warming. Hence, humans are the cause of global warming.

            About one-third of the world’s population relies on traditional biomass and traditional stoves for cooking (Letcher). Nearly half of the world’s population and approximately eighty-one percent of sub-Saharan populations rely on wood-based biomass energy as their main source of fuel for cooking (Saez de Bikuña et al.). Indoor biomass combustion contributes to the emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are components of greenhouse gases. Additionally, the use of fossil fuels, such as wood, coal, and paraffin emit carbon dioxide and its components in the atmosphere.  Therefore, humans are agents of global warming because they accelerate the emission of greenhouse gases in their households and other commercial places such as factories.

            Agriculture is essential in the survival of humans and other living organisms in the ecosystem. However, agricultural activities have been associated with the rising temperature of the earth. For example, rice cultivation, and manure management of domestic livestock release methane gas, which is a component of the greenhouse gases. Additionally, soil cultivation practices such as the use of organic fertilizers release nitrous oxide, a component of greenhouse gases (Saez de Bikuña et al.). Unsustainable agricultural practices might not be the main cause of global warming, but they contribute to the greenhouse effect through human involvement. Therefore, humans are indirectly causing the earth’s temperature to rise through agricultural activities.

Rapid urbanization is a human-related phenomenon that results in the transformation of rural and peri-urban areas. It is characterized by the conversion of agricultural land uses to commercial and residential land uses. Global warming is associated with rapid urbanization because it increases the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. For example, urban areas are reported to experience the highest amount of carbon dioxide emission from the use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. Moreover, the construction of buildings using concrete as the main material causes the urban heat island effect (Guodong Li et al.). Concrete buildings in urban areas absorb and reflect heat from the sun to the atmosphere, resulting in increased temperatures. Therefore, rapid urbanization is an anthropogenic activity that contributes to global warming.

Humans are not the main cause of global warming. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere comprises about 0.040 percent (Easterbrook). Water vapor is the leading component in the atmosphere and is linked to the rising temperature of the earth. For instance, water vapor accounted for approximately 95 percent of greenhouse gases, while COand other gases making up 5 percent (Easterbrook). The temperature of the oceans influences the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Tokarska and Gillett). Therefore, the assertion that humans are the cause of global warming is unacceptable. For example, the amount of atmospheric COduring the mid-Jurassic era and into the early Cretaceous was 5-8 times the present level. Thus, humans are not the main cause of global warming.

The claim that human activities contribute to global warming has faced criticism. Natural phenomena have played a big role in increasing the earth’s temperature. For example, land and sea volcanoes emit more carbon dioxide annually compared to anthropogenic activities (Hu et al.). Moreover, other natural phenomena such as forest fires emit a severe amount of carbon dioxide to the environment. The occurrence of forest fires is unprompted because of overheat caused by hot and dry weather, and not human activities. Additionally, forest fires might be caused by lightning that carries a high voltage current. Forest fires can occur in a large tract of land and release a high amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The sudden increase in the level of carbon dioxide and the heat from forest fires leads to an increase in the level of greenhouse gases. Therefore, forest fires and volcanic activities, which are natural phenomena that cause global warming.

In conclusion, global warming has resulted in a debate to understand the main cause of climate change. Global warming has attracted criticism and support from different scientists and individuals from the political class. Global warming has been experienced through an increase in the temperature of the earth. The proponents of this issue argue that humans and their activities are the cause of global warming. Activities, such as urbanization, deforestation, agriculture, use of fossil fuel, and waste heat have contributed to the increased emission of greenhouse gases that raise the earth’s temperature. On the other hand, opponents argue that natural events, such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires have cause global warming. However, humans have contributed to global warming by accelerating the emission of greenhouse gases. Therefore, humans are the main agents and catalysts of global warming.

Works Cited

Bian, Qinghan. “Waste Heat: The Dominating Root Cause of Current Global Warming.” Environmental Systems Research, vol. 9, no. 1, 2020, doi:10.1186/s40068-020-00169-2.

Easterbrook, Don. Evidence-Based Climate Science : Data Opposing CO2 Emissions as the Primary Source of Global Warming. Elsevier, 2016,​/​lib/​cccc-​ebooks/​detail.action​?​docID=​4691340.

Guodong Li, et al. “Urban Heat Island Effect of a Typical Valley City in China: Responds to the Global Warming and Rapid Urbanization.” Sustainable Cities and Society, vol. 38, 2018, pp. 736–45. doi:10.1016/j.scs.2018.01.033.

Hu, Dongping, et al. “Large Mass-Independent Sulphur Isotope Anomalies Link Stratospheric Volcanism to the Late Ordovician Mass Extinction.” Nature communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 2020, p. 2297. doi:10.1038/s41467-020-16228-2.

Letcher, Trevor M. Managing Global Warming : An Interface of Technology and Human Issues. Elsevier Science & Technology, 2018,​/​lib/​cccc-​ebooks/​detail.action​?​docID=​5589262.

Saez de Bikuña, Koldo, et al. “Global Warming Implications from Increased Forest Biomass Utilization for Bioenergy in a Supply-Constrained Context.” Journal of environmental management, vol. 263, 2020, p. 110292. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.110292.

Tokarska, Katarzyna B., and Nathan P. Gillett. “Cumulative Carbon Emissions Budgets Consistent with 1.5 °C Global Warming.” Nature Climate Change, vol. 8, no. 4, 2018, pp. 296–99. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0118-9.

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