Global warming is quite literally on the rise, according to climate research scientists. There has been a proverbial debate among the general public about the merits of man induced climate change. Although debate about the merits of man induced climate change circulates within public spheres, the great bulk of climate scientists agree that human activities have contributed to a rise in global temperatures. In the heat of this debate, the following draws upon three lines of evidence that support anthropogenic climate change, highlights various mitigation strategies and how regulating agricultural practices can help stabilize global climate.
No one denies the fact that the Earth is heating up. The debate centers on whether the rise in global temperatures is natural or man induced. Climate change that occurs naturally is known as global warming. Greenhouse gas emissions wax and wane overtime. Venus, for example, has undergone a runaway greenhouse effect. The heat trapped in Venus’s upper atmosphere is so hot that it can cook a pizza in less than twelve seconds. In contrast, greenhouse gas emissions that increase because of human activity is known as anthropogenic global warming (UGSG Staff, 2014). According to anthropogenic global warming, the rise in greenhouse emissions is largely attributed to the industrial revolution.
There are several pieces of evidence that support anthropogenic global warming. One particularly persuasive piece of evidence is the decrease in the amount of energy the Earth is radiating back into space. The atmosphere is divided into several layers: the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, exosphere and ionosphere. The troposphere is the lowest layer and the ionosphere is the highest layer. The Earth can sustain life because the atmosphere preserves and emits a specific amount of heat emitted by the sun. The more greenhouse gases that are emitted, the thicker the atmosphere becomes. Climate scientists measure CO2 levels in the atmosphere using satellites. In recent years, climate scientists have discovered that the heat the Earth absorbs from the sun has remained constant, whereas the heat emitted by the Earth back into space has decreased. To make matters worse, the rise in CO2 levels is bounded up in the Earth’s lower atmospheric layers, suggesting the culprit behind CO2 levels is internal, rather than external, to the Earth.
Another piece of evidence for anthropogenic global warming is CO2 enriched air bubbles entombed in ice cores prior to the industrial revolution. By measuring the amount of CO2 trapped inside the air bubbles, scientists estimated that the amount of CO2 in the air prior to the industrial revolution was 280 parts per million (Wayne, 2013). Scientists then compared these figures with current CO2 levels. Since the industrial revolution, the amount of CO2 in the air has increased to 440 parts per million. In other words, the amount of CO2 in the air has increased nearly 43 percent since the industrial revolution.
A final piece of evidence for anthropogenic global warming is the sudden change in weather patterns and rising sea levels. Ice cores found in mountain glaciers illustrate that the Earth’s climate is sensitive to greenhouse gases, solar input, among many other factors. They also show that the climate changed very rapidly in the 20th century by geological standards. In the last hundred years, global sea levels have risen approximately 17 centimeters (NASA, 2010). In addition, the United States has consecutively experienced harsher hurricane seasons for the last 30 years. It is normal for there to be dramatic changes in the climate over hundreds of millions of years. It is not normal for climate change to occur rapidly as it has in the past 150 years; thus suggesting that global warming is man induced.
These somber facts make global warming seem inevitable. However, there are various mitigation strategies that are currently being considered that can help minimize the damage of global warming. One of these mitigation strategies is increasing the amount of reusable energy at the state level. The District of Columbia, along with 28 other states, have adopted reusable electricity standards. UCS research estimates the enactment of these policies will create 76,750 megawatts worth of renewable electricity by the year 2025 (Climate Solutions RES, 2009). By the same token, these policies should reduce CO2 emissions by about 183 million metric tons by the year 2025. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, these policies have helped states control energy management and attain various economic goals.
Another mitigation strategy to combat global warming would be for Congress to enact a renewable energy standard for the entire country. Further UCS research estimates that enacting a 20 percent energy standard would increase the country’s renewable energy power by 117,000 megawatts by the year 2020. By the same token, a national renewable energy standard would reduce CO2 emissions by 63 percent by the year 2020 as well (Climate Solutions RES, 2009). Since the United States is responsible for 25 percent of global heat trapping emissions, a national renewable energy standard could drastically limit the consequences of global warming.
Many people point to the use of fossil fuels as the culprit responsible for global warming. However, the agricultural industry contributes to more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the world’s cars combined. The agricultural industry contributes to climate change in two ways. First, the overproduction of livestock on factory farms causes the animals to release an excessive amount of methane. Second, farmers contribute to greenhouse gas emissions by over spraying their crops with fertilizer. Monsanto is a business that produces a genetically modified seed that has a monopoly on the agricultural industry. The seed is more resistant to pathogens than non-genetically modified seeds. Farmers must therefore use more fertilizer than necessary to combat the potency of Monsanto’s seed.
Most crops are now immune to the strongest forms of fertilizer available thanks to Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. If I were a policy maker, I would have the United States subsidize farmers rather than crops. This would prevent Monsanto from having a monopoly on the agricultural industry and allow local farmers to use their own seeds. In addition, I would introduce government policies that would limit livestock production and the amount of fertilizer allowed to be used on crops each year. These mitigation policies would drastically lower greenhouse gas emissions and boost local economies by subsidizing American farmers.
As has been illustrated, global warming is a real threat to humanity. An increase in greenhouse emissions, global temperatures, sea levels and severe weather patterns since the industrial revolution are strong pieces of evidence for anthropogenic global warming. Yet where there is doom there is hope. State and national renewable electricity standards can and have lowered CO2 emissions. Yet more work can be done. Making adjustments to agricultural practices can play a major role in lowering greenhouse emissions as well. It is in consideration of these points that the consequences of anthropogenic global warming—though real—are not inevitable.
- RES, C. S. (2009, February 12). Renewable Energy Standards—Mitigating Global Warming . Retrieved from UCSUSA: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/smart-energy-solutions/increase-renewables/renewable-energy.html
- Staff, N. (2010). Climate change: How do we know? Retrieved from NASA: http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence
- Staff, U. (2014, April 4). Distinguishing Natural Climate Variability from Anthropogenic Climate Change. Retrieved from USGS: http://www.usgs.gov/climate_landuse/clu_rd/pt_nat_climate.asp
- Wayne, G. (2013, October 24). Emprical Evidence that Humans Are Causing Global Warming . Retrieved from Skeptical Science : http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-global-warming.htm