When it comes to problems facing the country, there are many that one could choose from. Some note that some of the biggest problems facing politicians do not have anything to do with terrorism, rising deficits, or poverty. Rather, they have to do with climate change. Climate change is something that has happened many times over the history of the earth, but many of those changes were naturally occurring. Lately, climate change has been the product of human actions. There are three different causes of man-made climate change, including greenhouse gas emissions, aerosols in the atmosphere, and changes to land use by human beings.
Greenhouse gas emissions are one category of the causes of man-made climate change. The earth naturally has a certain quantity of greenhouse gasses (Montzka, Dlugokencky, & Butler). Naturally speaking, these things are necessary, as they allow the earth to retain heat to such a level that the earth is habitable for human beings. However, certain activities by human beings have increased the number of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. This means that when sunlight comes down onto earth, more of the heat is retained. The effect is that the earth’s surface temperature rises by a significant margin. While there are many different kinds of greenhouse gasses, carbon dioxide is one of the most important. Some carbon dioxide exists naturally because of volcanic activity and the like, but extra carbon dioxide is released when human beings do things like burning fossil fuels (Myhrvold & Caldeira).
The increasing of aerosols into the atmosphere is another category of man-made climate change causes (Solomon). When the atmosphere has two much aerosol, a number of things can happen. For one, this can cause the scattering of radiation, which can actually cool the earth’s surface. In addition, too much aerosol can cause the absorption of solar radiation. This can, in turn, cause the air on earth to be hotter. The heat is absorbed by the air rather than allowing the earth’s surface to absorb heat. In addition, some argue that too much aerosol in the earth’s atmosphere can cause tangible changes to clouds, potentially changing climate and weather patterns. Human beings have lots of different ways of contributing to the added aerosols in the atmosphere. For one, industrial processes tend to produce a range of different aerosols. Exhaust is also a major problem that results from human use of vehicles and the like. On top of that, dust that comes from modern agriculture has the same effect.
Land use is another of the categories of man-made climate change causes. How land is actually used can have a major impact on how sunlight reacts when it hits the earth. For instance, when earth is full of forests, that has a distinct impact on the reflection of sunlight. Human beings, however, have been busy cutting down forests to some extent. Deforestation in order to turn land into farmland has helped to create a cooling effect on earth (Pearson, Walker, & Brown). When human beings make decisions on how to use their land, they can sometimes alter the earth’s natural processes, creating potential harm over the long run.
Ultimately climate change is an issue that is going to become a big deal one way or another. As human beings continue to do things that change the way the sun reflects off of the earth or alters the cooling and heating effects of the sun, the earth’s climate will change. While it is clear that some climate change is natural, it is also clear that some of the change is the result of human action on earth. Greenhouse gasses, the release of aerosols into the atmosphere, and land use changes have been three of the major man-made climate change categories.
- Montzka, S. A., E. J. Dlugokencky, and J. H. Butler. “Non-CO2 greenhouse gases and climate change.”‘Nature’476.7358 (2011): 43-50.
- Myhrvold, Nathan P., and Ken Caldeira. “Greenhouse gases, climate change and the transition from coal to low-carbon electricity.”‘Environmental Research Letters’7.1 (2012): 014019.
- Pearson, Timothy, Sarah Walker, and Sandra Brown. “Sourcebook for land use, land-use change and forestry projects.” (2013).
- Solomon, Susan, et al. “The persistently variable ‘background’ stratospheric aerosol layer and global climate change.”‘Science’333.6044 (2011): 866-870.