The alarming effects of global warming are undeniable and human factors are largely to blame. Climate change, caused largely by escalated human activity and population growth, has caused sea levels to rise, temperatures to soar and wildlife to suffer. To better understand the depth of this climate change crisis and to know the most effective ways of intervening, it is important to consider the various human factors that have contributed to this worldwide phenomena.
One of the most significant human factors contributing to global warming is the production of billions of tons of industrial carbon dioxide each year. This pollutant is released into the atmosphere when burning fossil fuels and is considered the main contributor to global warming, as its chemical composition makes it highly effective at trapping heat. Studies conducted by the University of Eastern Finland have found that even small amounts of CO2 can profoundly affect global temperatures, causing them to rise significantly within a matter of years.
Another major factor is deforestation. As global populations grow, demands for land, lumber and food are intensifying, leading to land clearing and forest destruction. The resulting deforestation not only endangers wildlife and their natural habitats, but is also responsible for releasing hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Additionally, each tree removed disrupts the natural process of photosynthesis, which acts as an effective guardian against climate change.
These are not the only human activities that act as contributors to climate change. Farming practices have also been found to contribute significantly, as the development of larger-scale livestock operations has caused significant methane emissions. Methane is a very powerful gas that is trapping heat more effectively than CO2. A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has revealed that, in the United States alone, livestock operations contribute to 37% of total domestic methane emissions.
In addition, advancements in technology in the past decade have made transporting goods and people cheaper and more convenient, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles on the road. With these growing fleets of cars, trucks, and buses, also come countless emissions of carbon dioxide, most of which cannot be mitigated due to the lack of viable alternative modes of transportation. According to a study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, global transport emissions increased by 60% between 1990 and 2017.
The consequences of these human factors are not just impacting the environment, they are also having long-lasting impacts on our lives. Heat waves, droughts, floods, and other extreme weather conditions have become more frequent and, according to Scientific American, may soon become the “new normal” if swift and effective action is not taken. We must also bear in mind that the impacts are not just global, they are each affecting us on a personal level and will continue to do so in the future.
To combat these issues, government leaders and citizens alike must take action. An important step is to act as responsible global citizens, meaning reducing our personal emissions of greenhouse gases through more mindful and sustainable living. This can be done through initiatives such as driving less, biking or walking instead of commuting, and reducing meat consumption, among many other actions. Additionally, governments should seek to implement stricter environmental regulations and to provide incentives for the development of lowering-emission technologies.
In conclusion, it is undeniable that human factors have played a key role in the increasing effects of climate change. To ensure that we continue to thrive and survive, it is our responsibility to recognize the impact and take action to reverse it.