The issues related to climate change are not new in the modern world. Starting from the 20th century, or, more precisely, from 1850, there have been studies related to the ever-changing global climate patterns. In a broad sense, climate change is said to be a statistical change or a variation in the average state of the climate that is extended for certain duration of time. It is a phenomenon that is brought about by the long-term risk that is associated with the increase in global development (Chopra, 2005). As such, climate change can be caused by several factors that can broadly be classified into two categories – natural internal processes and human activities, which are also known as anthropogenic activities. The anthropogenic activities are highly related to the use and misuse of energy, emitting substances in the environment that have a negative impact on the environment. These activities tend to alter the natural atmospheric composition, which culminates to an environmental imbalance. The imbalance occurs because of the green house gases that are emitted into the atmosphere. This paper therefore seeks to point out that global climatic changes occur as a result of anthropogenic activities and that people should adopt other means that would protect the environment rather than do harm. The paper identifies probable solutions that can be used to successfully reduce carbon emissions, which propel global warming and its effect thereafter.
The Earth is the only planet that has been proven scientifically to be able to support life (Chopra, 2005). This is because of the availability of suitable surface temperatures, availability of water, abundance of oxygen, and a good atmosphere to support life. The other planets lack these life supporting aspects to successfully and continually support life. Animals need sufficient oxygen in order to be able to survive on the Earth. After the intake and synthesis of oxygen, animals emit carbon dioxide as a waste into the environment. This increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. On the other hand, plants do use carbon dioxide in a process known as photosynthesis. In this process light energy from the sun is an essential component. From this critical perspective, it becomes evident that there is an interdependency relationship between plants and animals. Scientifically, the relationship between the two kingdoms is what is referred to as an ecosystem (Clauseen, 2001). The ecosystem has to remain balanced in order to maintain the natural atmosphere for peaceful coexistence. According to the assessment report by IPPC 2001, human activities have created an imbalance that has led to adverse environmental effects. For over 150 years, the global warming effect has been attributed mostly to anthropogenic activities.
Since the introduction of the industrial revolution in the 20th century, there has been an unprecedented increase in the greenhouse gases on the Earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen oxide absorb some of the energy reflected by the Earth’s surface. This causes a warming up effect that raises the temperatures of the atmosphere and results in global warming. The atmospheric composition includes 78% of nitrogen, 21% of oxygen, and 0.036% of carbon dioxide (Freedman, 2007). These gases make life sustainable on the Earth. Scientific research has revealed that the concentration of greenhouse gases has drastically increased due to the increase of human activities. The concentration of carbon dioxide is considered to be 31% more than the normal level; the proportions of methane and nitrogen oxide are supposed to be at 151% and 17% more than the normal levels (Freedman, 2007). These levels are increasing with the increase of anthropogenic activities. The ultimate effect results in the protective layer of the atmospheric stratosphere allowing more harmful sunrays to reach the Earth’s surface. Penetration of these rays causes hazardous effects on the atmospheric natural balance, resulting in the adverse change of climatic conditions. This alters the ecosystem balance and further poses a threat to sustainability of life on the planet. The natural atmospheric balance has to be there in order for the environment to remain safe and optimal to sustain life.
The changes in temperature, however, do not occur evenly over the different layers of the Earth’s atmosphere or different parts of the globe. According to the climate report released by IPPC 2001, the average temperature of the surface has increased by 0.6% (Herr & Galland, 2009). This means that there has been an increase in the level of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the environment. The study recorded 1990’s as the warmest period in terms of global temperature and climate change. The natural climate system adjusts itself continuously in order to create a balance between the energy emitted from the sun and the heat reflected by the Earth. It is estimated that 30% of the energy from sunrays is reflected back and never reaches the Earth’s surface (Herr & Galland, 2009). This natural control is helpful, as it reduces the amount of heat energy from the sun that reaches the Earth’s surface. If the heat was to reach the Earth, then the temperatures would generally be unreliable for life to survive. Therefore, there is a global campaign to stop the climate change and to safeguard life on Earth for the present and future generations. It is thus very important to control human activities that have made a major contribution to the environmental degradation, which results in climatic conditions.
As pointed earlier in this paper, human activity is responsible for global warming. A critical look at the human activities that propel the emission of dangerous gases into the environment and, perhaps, ways of mitigating them would be a step at curbing the impending global catastrophe (Schlesinger, 2007). One of the major causes of climate change, as highlighted earlier, is natural internal processes. These are the natural phenomena that slowly take course without any intervention of human activity, such as floods, continental drifts, changes in the shape of the Earth’s orbit etc. These natural processes are responsible for the long-term climate changes that may extends to millions of years. However, it takes time for these processes to cause any striking change in the global climate. The sun and the solar system in general are the primary drives that cause changes in the global climate. Researches conducted by scientists indicate that the amount of energy that enters the Earth’s atmosphere is bigger than that reflected or returned (Schlesinger, 2007). In this respect, the Earth’s surface becomes warmed up and the temperature rises, causing global warming. On the contrary, when the amount of energy reflected from the Earth’s surface is bigger than that reaching the surface of the Earth, then the opposite, that is, a cooling effect, occurs. It is worth mentioning that these processes are natural and no human interference can control them. They occur to bring about a balance in the atmosphere.
Another great aspect that brings about global climate change is the human activity. A detailed look into human activities that cause climate change can enable current and future research studies to develop better ways of combating climate change. In his research done in the 1850’s, John Tyndal deduced that human beings are actually a potential threat to their own environment. He alluded that some of the human activities are a major threat to the climate. The sentiments in his research are echoed by another researcher, Svante Arhenius, who found out through research that burning of coal increases the level of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and water vapour, being categorized as greenhouse gases, are dangerous to the environment. These gases absorb the energy from the sun, which is in the form of ultraviolet rays. The energy trapped makes the Earth’s surface warmer than it would be if heated directly by sunlight. Human activities such as burning gasoline to run automobiles, coal, natural gas and other fuels with the purpose of producing energy and electricity, have a profound effect on the climate.
<>A substantial amount of carbon monoxide is released into the environment. Carbon monoxide, being a greenhouse gas, contributes to the process of absorbing heat in the atmosphere (Solomon, 2007). The aftermath of this is that the temperatures rise as a result of the heating effect from the heat absorbed and retained by the gas. It is estimated that for every litre of fossil fuel combusted 1300 volume of carbon dioxide is released. Fossil fuels contribute 80 to 85% of carbon gases added into the atmosphere. Other human activities such as clearing land, ranching, and agricultural practices contribute 20-25% of carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Methane, a gas produced from cultivation of rice, animal husbandry, and decaying matter in landfill further attenuates the carbon emissions. These human activities are a major concern, as they end up increasing the amount of carbon substance in the atmosphere, which is a great contributor for global climate change.
Therefore, the humanity should change its lifestyle in order to protect the climate. To control carbon emissions into the environment, there has to be a clear guideline on how to do this. This may involve coming up with machinery that doesn’t use fossil fuel as a source of energy. For example, solar-powered vehicles and engines could be a great improvement. Encouraging the planting of trees to recreate forests is another way of protecting the environment, as they reduce the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Poor parts of the continent should be aided to adapt safer ways by building their hydro meteorological data center to assist them with managing any agricultural risks they face today. This will aid by being proactive in taking action immediately to avert long term future climatic threats. This can be achieved by shaping land use in the future and conserving biodiversity in plants and animals. Another way of averting human activities that raise the rate of carbon emissions into the atmosphere is through reducing the usage of non-recyclable matter which takes time to decompose, such as plastics. Another way is reusing and recycling of matter, which helps keeping the environment and the climate friendly. It is therefore important that human activities embrace better ways of managing the environment such as using less heat and less air conditioning. A better climate results in a better environment, which brings about better living standards. It is thus prudent to adopt and support eco-friendly initiatives in the modern world of technology.