Greenhouse Gas Emissions Causing Climate Change
The negative effects of climate change, like global warming, are a pressing issue in today’s world which humans can be largely held responsible for. The vast majority of the scientific community agrees that global warming can be attributed to humans (NASA, 2021) and the release of greenhouse gases through the use of fossil fuels, deforestation, and different methods of farming. Anthropogenic climate change manifestation can be seen in the more commonly occurring natural disasters, extreme heat, poor air, food, and water quality, and many other areas that negatively affect humans. It’s estimated that around 50% of modern warming is due to human causation (Hausfather, 2017) which means there is nobody else to blame other than ourselves.
Greenhouse gases are arguably the biggest catalyst for climate change on earth. These gases are compounds such as carbon dioxide being the most prominent, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases which only come from human activities (EPA, 2020). These gases when released are trapped in the atmosphere which doesn’t let the heat come out and warms the overall temperature of the earth and is known as the greenhouse effect.
The most common and prevalent way greenhouse gases are released is through the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels come from natural sources in nature that have been around for thousands and millions of years such as coal, oil, and natural gas, and humans have different uses for them such as powering factories, technology, means of travel, and producing electricity and heat. Fossil fuels have become an integral part of today’s world and their advancement but have also caused negative impacts on the environment. Fossil fuels release huge amounts of carbon dioxide which traps huge amounts of heat in the earth’s atmosphere (Nunez, 2019) and this is why fossil fuels have been some of the biggest contributors to global warming and in turn climate change. Trying to substitute fossil fuels for another energy source for the sake of the environment is an extremely difficult task considering civilization’s dependency on it, but there have been tested and proposed alternatives. Many common ones are already being used such as solar power which has been seen in houses that are 100% clean energy, and then there are less popular sources of energy such as biofuels which use organic matter, geothermal power which extracts energy from the ground, or tidal energy which uses water (Ecavo.com, 2020). Many different types of clean energy can help wean humans off the use of fossil fuels.
Another way greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere and further anthropogenic climate change is through deforestation. Deforestation is the clearing of trees or forest from an area and is used for lumber. The wood is used as a heat source and for building structures but what also occurs with deforestation is destroyed ecosystems that severely harm the plants and animal life and additional furthering of climate change through the release of greenhouse gases. Deforestation accounts for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions (Rainforest Alliance, 2018) and this is because the stored carbon dioxide within trees is now released into the air and atmosphere when they are cut down. The trees also help prevent the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere because they utilize it for energy, so when many of these forests are destroyed, the primary defense against greenhouse gas emissions is being taken away, as well as the release of greenhouse gases increasing at the same. There aren’t many alternatives to wood that don’t include more release of greenhouse gases so the only method to counteract the negative effects of deforestation is simply to decrease deforestation. Government regulation, public awareness, and petition against deforestation is the strongest and most effective way of mitigating the effects of deforestation on the environment and climates around the world.
Farming and agriculture as a whole have been major contributors to climate change and global warming. Agriculture is responsible for 10.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, but the specific greenhouse gases it releases, percentage-wise, are very different from other industries.
“The emissions profile for agriculture differs from that of the economy as a whole. U.S. agriculture emitted an estimated 698 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2018: 12.3 percent as carbon dioxide, 36.2 percent as methane, and 51.4 percent as nitrous oxide. (USDA, 2020)
As seen from the statistics, the damage being done by agriculture is mostly from nitrous oxide and methane which mostly come from fertilizers and chemicals used in farming. Although these advancements in agricultural farming have resulted in the more efficient production of food, there are obvious negative effects that are detrimental to the environment. If this rate of greenhouse gases being admitted into the atmosphere continues, it is going to eventually make farming impossible because of the low air and water quality which would be by-products of global warming. To reduce the connection between agriculture and climate change, humans must adopt natural ways of farming that aren’t so dependent on high-powered machinery or chemicals.
The main concern in the study of climate change and global warming is the effects on the environment but ultimately how it affects the human race. The most alarming areas where climate change can have negative effects are temperature, air quality, water, food, natural disasters, and mental health. In regards to temperature, the most pressing concern is the “more frequently severe and prolonged heat events” (Usgcrp, 2016). Rising temperatures around the World affect every aspect of society from the complex functions of an economy to the most basic human necessities of obtaining food and water. The rising heat is what global warming is and it’s the most urgent issue when it comes to climate change. It could, and has, increased the amount of heat-related deaths. Following temperature is air. The decrease in air quality affects the efficiency of plant growth, which in turn affects farming (human source of food) and the respiratory systems of every human on the planet which could be the most lethal aspect of climate change. Air is the supporter of all life on earth and with it becoming more dangerous the risks are becoming insurmountable. Next water. Water encompasses a lot of things from the quality of drinking water being made less viable for humans by climate change, or the increase in flooding that could potentially wipe out coastal cities. Over the past decades, it has been observed that flooding and the severity of hurricanes have increased which foreshadows what could happen shortly. In food, global warming will make it harder to grow crops and nurture livestock to provide to the public due to an increase in pathogens. Finally, there is mental health. All the negative consequences of anthropogenic climate change listed above all have an effect on mental health with people not being able to provide for their families, dealing with the suffering and death of loved ones, and their hardships. There is a common denominator of either temperature or air quality in regards to every negative consequence of climate change which makes the issue all the more pressing.
There is a vast amount of evidence that supports the claim that humans are a driving force of climate change from rising carbon dioxide levels from human industry, to the release of different greenhouse gases from farming. The consequences have been observed and studied and 97% of scientists studying climate change have concluded that humans are largely responsible (UCSUSA, 2021). Humans are the cause for many of the negative effects of global warming and climate change, but there is still the possibility that the course of climate change can be turned around through drastic changes implemented in society. Anthropogenic climate change is real, and its repercussions have been manifesting, and continue to manifest around the globe.