Global warming is a direct consequence of human activities, namely the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. As these gases are released, they trap heat, thus raising the temperature of the planet. Although the causes of global warming are varied and complex, it is largely accepted that human activities are the primary contributors. This includes land management practices, the burning of fossil fuels, industrial and agricultural practices, air travel, and deforestation.
Land management has a huge impact on the climate. Historically, humans have dramatically altered the landscape by cutting down forests and replacing them with fields and livestock. By doing this, carbon dioxide (a key greenhouse gas) gets released into the atmosphere and contributes to the rising temperatures. Additionally, land practices such as ploughing can stir up large amounts of dust, which can also influence cloud formation, deflecting sunlight and warming up the planet.
Fossil fuels are among the main contributors to global warming, since burning them releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It is recorded that since 1999, the burning of coal accounted for 25 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, causing 57 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. As per a 2020 report, transportation accounted for 28 percent of total US emissions, with the burning of petroleum being the main contributor.
Another major contributor to global warming is industrial and agricultural activities, as these can release both carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. According to data from the US Environmental Protection Agency, emissions from industrial sources accounted for 28 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, with the majority of these coming from fertilizer and manure production. In the agricultural sector, virtually all of the emissions come from methane, which can be generated by a variety of processes including animal digestion and the decomposition of organic matter.
Air travel is another factor in the equation. To put it into perspective, air travel accounts for 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and 12 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions from transport. Jet aircraft emit nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and sulphur dioxide during flight, which all play a role in global warming.
Deforestation is another factor, as it leads to the lag in absorption of carbon dioxide, resulting in an unsteady balance between emissions and the amount of gas being absorbed. According to estimates, deforestation is responsible for around 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with the majority of it coming from the destruction of tropical forests.
While many of these activities are necessary for the functioning of society, it is important to recognize their potential long-term effects on global climate. Fortunately, there are a number of steps that can be taken to mitigate the impact of human activities on global warming. These include reducing emissions through the use of renewable energy sources, increasing the efficiency of transportation and production processes, and switching to low-carbon diets. It is clear that global warming is an issue that will require collective action to address, and it is increasingly vital that steps are taken to mitigate the effects of human activities on our climate.