What’s Causing Global Warming

Sudden rises in global temperatures, specifically over the past century, have caused alarm around the world, igniting fierce debates about the drivers of global warming. The topic can be confusing and highly contested, with various sources drawing different conclusions, making it necessary to take a more thorough and detailed look at the evidence. To that end, this article explores the primary causes of global warming and its implications for human wellbeing, livelihoods and the environment.

The evidence is clear that human activities are an important underlying factor in the rapid rise of global temperatures in the past century. Burning fossil fuels, agricultural practices such as deforestation and the release of pollutants into the atmosphere all contribute to a warming planet. These actions trap heat in the atmosphere and oceans and create “greenhouse gases”, leading to global warming. Moreover, human-induced changes to the Earth’s land surface, such as urban development, destruction of natural habitats and decimation of forests, also impact how much solar radiation is absorbed or reflected back into space.

THE RELEASE OF GREENHOUSE GASES.

The burning of fossil fuels like oil and coal are major players in the global warming equation. These fuels contain large amounts of carbon, which is released into the atmosphere when these fuels are burned. As more and more carbon accumulates, the more ‘greenhouse gases’ like CO2, methane and nitrous oxide, are emitted into the atmosphere, trapping heat and causing global temperatures to rise. This has alarming consequences for human and animal welfare, food supplies and the environment.

AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES.

Agricultural processes, such as deforestation and excessive tilling, can also contribute to global warming. When large swaths of trees are cut down, they are unable to absorb carbon anymore, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Similarly, when farmers till the earth too heavily, large amounts of carbon stored in the soil and plants are released, further accelerating the warming process.

URBAN DEVELOPMENT.

Urbanization — the development of large cities — also affects global warming. As cities expand, they absorb large amounts of sunlight, causing temperatures to rise faster than in rural areas. This urban heat island or “concrete jungle” effect is easily recognizable in many of the world’s metropolitan areas, many of which can be up to 10 degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding countryside.

While it is easy to pin the blame on human activities, they are not the only causes of global warming. Natural events, such as volcanic eruptions, also impact Earth’s climate and temperatures, although not to the degree that human activities do. The sun too is a fundamental factor, as cyclical changes in the intensity, frequency and type of solar radiation can all influence temperatures.

Despite the vast amount of information available in regards to global warming, individual contributions to the problem remain an important focus. Thus, a shift towards more sustainable ways of living is essential. This includes curbing emissions from fossil fuels and other forms of pollution, investing in renewable energy sources and supporting conservation efforts such as reforestation. Ultimately, each and every one of us has a responsibility to take the necessary steps to reduce the impacts of climate change and protect our environment for future generations.

Ernestine Warren is a passionate environmentalist, author, and advocate for the protection of the Earth's precious resources. She has written extensively on the causes and effects of global warming, providing accurate information to help educate people on how to combat this major global problem. With a background in science and biology, Ernestine has the tools to help develop solutions that meet everyone's needs while minimizing environmental damage. Her hope is that each person can do their part for the planet and make a real difference to help reduce climate change.

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