In 2019 many people no longer are asking the question, is climate change real? Rather they are acknowledging the noticeable changes to our climate and asking what is causing this? The answer to this question lies right under our noses, or rather within ourselves. As the industrial revolution changed our world from a mostly agrarian society to an industrial one the human population increased from around 700 million in the 1700’s to about 2 billion in the early 1900’s.
This population growth accompanied the development of urban areas, factories, and higher life expectancies, all great benefits to an individual’s life compared to previous generations. However, these advancements came at a high cost, and viewing the demands of this new society points to evidence showing climate change as result of anthropogenic activity. Previous to industrialization the greenhouse effect, a process which reflects the sun’s rays off the surface of our planet and maintains their warmth and benefits through elements in our atmosphere, acted as a closed system. This closed system had been operating over a timeline expanding long before humans, providing an environment where life was sustainable and no complications arose to effect the process. Yet now research shows change to this ever prevailing system, and evidence greatly points toward human activity.
Key to the mentioned greenhouse effect are the elements carbon dioxide and methane. These elements represent only a percentage of the greenhouse gasses as a whole yet they are essential to our atmosphere in order to maintain the heat allowed to effect the surface. Since the industrial revolution research has showed an alarming increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and methane in the earth’s atmosphere, 57% of total change result of industrial burning of fossil fuels. To examine the effects of this anthropogenic addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere we must look towards the physical change of our planet’s climate. From 1880-2012 our planet’s climate has increased .85°C, using the previous figure of 57% change of climate due to anthropogenic reasoning we can establish that humans have attributed to a rise of .48°C within the earth’s climate.
What human activities have the ability to cause such a drastic change in our climate? There are many different examples all with different results on our environment, yet more importantly is the scale in which they occur. Recalling the change in global population mentioned earlier, 700 million in the 1700’s to just shy of 2 billion in the early 1900’s, we are able to see a substantial amount of growth within just two centuries. Horrifically, when examining global population growth from 1900-2010 we witness an increase from 2 billion to around 6.5 billion. With so many people inhabiting the planet there is great demand for housing,food and the desire of a happy life through use of goods and services. These demands are costly, and provide the source of our greenhouse gas emissions and further evidence as to why climate change is driven by human activity.
For instance, in order to feed the current population an immense amount of food is required across the globe. Pre industrialization most families or communities farmed for themselves, utilizing just enough land to provide their own sustenance. With the population increase farmers now face higher demands for the quantity of food produced, this requires more land to do so. Deforestation has occurred in response to these demands and has altered the carbon cycle immensely, plants and trees being a large part of the greenhouse gas system by naturally absorbing and emitting carbon back into the atmosphere. As trees are cut and burned to free land carbon rapidly is released back into the atmosphere attributing to the figures listed earlier as part of global climate change. The mobilization of our world also has created further trouble for our delicate climate, corresponding with the massive population is a massive need for vehicles. In the United States alone there is an average of 1.8 cars per household according to recent census data. As cars burn through gasoline and oil more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere at an alarming rate, and in such quantity vehicles account for ? of the total of atmospheric change.
The general understanding of our world today seems to be that climate change is real and that human activities are its primary cause. The question now is why are we letting ourselves continue to harm the only environment that can sustain human, if not all, life? All of the mentioned issues are ongoing in this moment and there is little being done to limit them. Many scientists have pointed out that the needs of the population will soon overbear the requirements of our environment. Population growth will not slow at any time soon, it is a snowball effect. Many countries have placed restrictions on how many children may be in a family and while extreme these laws are necessary.
Other environmental restrictions have been put in place by countless governments and yet somehow the climate is only getting warmer. There are other consequences to our actions as humans beside that of climate change, countless animals have gone extinct and scientists regard our time on earth now as the 6th mass extinction. Deforestation for example has robbed countless species of their homes across the world and pollution has tainted not only natural beauty but the health of the animals to encounter it. As a species humans need to accept that our presence on the planet is not a good one and it is possibly fatal. If our activity continues on such a massive scale the slightest of temperature rise could be devastating. Glaciers would melt and the sea level would rise immensely swallowing all land and those upon it.
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