Human Influence on Climate Change

May 20, 2009

Human industrial activities are believed to be adding to the amount of “greenhouse gases” naturally present in the atmosphere. There are mounting proofs that following the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, which commenced in Britain and has expanded to several parts of the world, the amounts of of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased somewhat. this leaves room for the suspicion that humans could have been contributing to Global Warming.

Based on scientific results and day-to-day physical evidences, global warming is no longer in dispute. With the the verdict of the fourth assessment report on climate change just released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there is also very little contention that man contributes to the heating up of the Earth. However, the question that remains is: how much of the warming is caused by man?

Human activities that lead to production of GHGs are:

Agriculture: During agricultural practices, methane gas (a GHG) is produced when bacteria decomposes organic matter. It has been estimated that close to a quarter of methane gas from human activities result from livestock and the decomposition of animal manure. Paddy rice farming, land use and wetland changes are also agricultural processes that could contribute to the release of methane to the atmosphere. Use of fertilizers for agricultural activities also lead to higherNO2 concentrations.

Deforestation: With the growth of industrial activities has been worldwide deforestation. As part of the photosynthetic process, trees abstract carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen back to the atmosphere. with deforestation, the number of trees available to take in CO2 from the atmosphere has greatly reduced, leading to more available CO2 and increased greenhouse effect. When forests are cleared, most of the carbon in the burned or decomposing trees escape back into the atmosphere

Fossil Fuels: Fossil fuels is widely used to power our modern day engines and locomotives. The burning of coals, natural gas and oil yields most of the energy used to produce electricity, heat houses, run automobiles and power factories. The burning of fossil fuels to obtain energy to drive these engines lead to production of tremendous amount of CO2 which is released to our environment and increasers the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is believed that CO2 generated from the burning of fossil fuel accounts for about three-quarters of the total CO2 emissions from human activities.

Refrigeration/Fire Suppression/Manufacturing: Establishments and Industries used to use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in refrigeration systems, and CFCs and halons in fire suppression systems and manufacturing processes.

Other human factors leading to release of GHGs (particularly methane) to the atmosphere include pipeline losses, landfill emissions and septic systems that enhance and target the fermentation process also are major sources of atmospheric methane;

Indicators of the Influence of Human Activities on Climate Change:

Measurements of the concentrations of CO2, CH4, NO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere over time suggests that these concentrations have been on the increase since the beginning of the industrial revolution that began in the 18th century. A couple of the graphical data is presented on this page to illustrate that man’s activities are possibly contributory to the heating up of our Earth.


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