Human causes of global warming

Published Jul 14, Updated Aug 1, Warming and cooling have happened before—but not like this. How do we know humans are causing the current explosive rise in temperatures? Earth's surface has undergone unprecedented warming over the last century, and especially in this century. Every single year since has been warmer than the 20 th century average, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring sinceand being the warmest year on recorded history.

A study from found that without the emissions from burning coal and oil, there is very little likelihood that 13 out of the 15 warmest years on record would all have happened.

We know that warming—and cooling—has happened in the pastand long before humans were around. Scientists have devised different methods to answer this question. Meteorologists and oceanographers compare the climate patterns they observe with patterns developed using sophisticated models of Earth's atmosphere and ocean.

By matching the observed and modeled patterns, scientists can positively identify the " human fingerprints " associated with the changes, and they can also attribute the proportion of those changes to human activities.

Scientists have gathered evidence and have improved their methods for teasing apart natural and human factors. Today, scientists have very high confidence about human-caused global average surface temperature increase—a key climate indicator. Carbon dioxide CO 2 is the main heat-trapping gas largely responsible for most of the average warming over the past several decades.

The atmospheric concentration of CO 2 has increased dramatically, from a pre-industrial era AD — concentration of approximately parts per million ppm to today's ppm. The Arctic reached ppm in In the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded more than ppm. In March global averages reached this threshold, and in September the world reached a point of no-return : CO 2 concentration levels are unlikely to dip below ppm again. We know human activities are driving the increase in CO 2 concentrations because atmospheric CO 2 contains information about its source.

Scientists can tease apart how much CO 2 comes from natural sources, and how much comes from combusted fossil fuel sources.

This information tells scientists that fossil fuel emissions are the largest contributor of CO 2 concentrations since the pre-industrial era.

5 Causes of Global Warming

Many natural and human factors also called drivers influence the climate. Volcanic events and some types of human-made pollution, both of which inject sunlight-reflecting aerosols i. Among natural drivers, a large volcanic eruption can have a sharp cooling influence as it spews tiny particles high into the stratosphere the layer of the atmosphere above the troposphere where weather typically occurs.

The massive explosions from Krakatoa Indonesia in and Mount Pinatubo Philippines infor example, can be seen as the two largest downward spikes in the volcanic data depicted in the figure above. These particles prevented the full energy of the sun from reaching the surface of Earth and created a cooling trend for several years. Fossil fuel burning by humans emits tiny particles in addition to releasing CO 2 in the atmosphere. Some particles reflect sunlight back to space aerosolssimilar to the volcanic particles, having a cooling effect.

Other particles such as soot black carbon absorb the sunlight and drive temperature rise, leading to local warming of the atmosphere level where the soot particles circulate.

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Very likely, there would have been even more warming in the past 60 years if it were not for these human-made and natural tiny particles. Some of these climate drivers result in warming and others lead to cooling, but when all the natural and human-induced climate drivers are stacked up and compared to one another, the accumulation of human-released heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is so large that it has very likely swamped other climate drivers over the past half century, leading to observed global warming.

Much as the Air Force develops computer programs to simulate aircraft flight under different conditions, climate scientists develop computer programs to simulate global climate changes under different conditions. These programs use our knowledge of physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur within Earth's atmosphere and oceans and on its land surfaces. Mathematical models allow scientists to simulate the behavior of complex systems like climate and explore how these systems respond to natural and human factors.

For a computer model to accurately project the future climate, scientists must first ensure that it accurately reproduces already observed temperature changes i.Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, humans have increasingly been contributing unnatural sources of greenhouse gases into the system, causing the system to become unbalanced.

Without it, the Earth would be a cold and hostile planet, and would most likely be uninhabitable. Greenhouse gases are naturally occurring gases that pose no harm when they are in balance. However, when they are present in excessthe system becomes unbalanced and things start to go awry. Learn more about the Greenhouse Effect. The most important greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapor.

While all these gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, emissions from human sources has caused their levels to rise to a point that is no longer sustainable. Legend This figure shows the relative fraction of man-made greenhouse gases coming from each of eight categories of sources, as estimated by the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research version 3.

These values are intended to provide a snapshot of global annual greenhouse gas emissions in the year The top panel shows the sum over all man-made greenhouse gases, weighted by their global warming potential over the next years. Lower panels show the comparable information for each of these three primary greenhouse gases, with the same coloring of sectors as used in the top chart.

Click here for more data on Carbon Dioxide increase. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are not only higher than they have been in overyears, the current increase that we are seeing today is more than times faster than that experienced at the end of the last ice age.

This is largely due to human activities ; primarily the burning of fossil fuels, but also due to deforestation as a result of logging for timber and clearing for agriculture and development. Although methane has a shorter lifespan, and consequently, is not as abundant in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, in terms of it effect as a greenhouse gas, it is much more potent. Methane is produced when organic matter breaks down and also when ruminants digest their food.

Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas that is released primarily by fertilizers used in agriculture and landscaping, but also during the burning of fossil fuels and other organic matter. Water is essential for life, and as it is constantly cycling from one state to another, it is not surprising that it is the most abundant of all the greenhouse gases. However, water vapor not only acts as a greenhouse gas, it also increases as the atmosphere gets warmer and provides climate feedbacks.

While humans do not play a large direct role in producing water vapor, other human emissions promote atmospheric warming, which in turn promote evaporation that results in more water vapor in the atmosphere. Chlorofluorocarbons CFCs are long-lasting greenhouse gases that also destroy the ozone layer. CFCs do not occur naturally in the atmosphere — they are synthetic compounds that only originate from human sourcesincluding: aerosols, foaming agents, refrigerants, and other industrial applications.

Oceans have absorbed 20 times more heat than the atmosphere resulting in warmer oceans Barnett, T. Pierce, K. AchutaRao, P. Gleckler, B. Santer, J.Human activities are causing Earth to heat up in ways that are different from warm periods in the past. Sincethe average surface air temperature has risen 1. The steepest rise began in the s and continues today. We know this warming is happening because we have measurements of temperature from weather stations.

In some places, recorded temperature measurements go back to the s. Estimates of temperature changes in the further past are made from tree rings and ice cores.

Today, surface temperatures are monitored at thousands of places, over both land and oceans. An increase of 1. On average, Earth is only 7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer today than it was during the last ice age.

The recent increase in average temperature of only a couple degrees is already leading to global changes in precipitation, snow and ice extent, and extreme weather, such as heavy rains, heat waves, and severe storms. Today, Earth is warming at a much faster rate than it warmed over the 7, years since the last ice age. That means that Earth will get hotter over the course of a few decades rather than over a few thousand years. Human activities have increased the abundance of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

This increase is mostly due to burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

List of 10 Human Causes of Global Warming for 2020

Carbon dioxide has increased from a pre-industrial level of parts per million to more than parts per million today. Most of the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has occurred since the late s. It is true that Earth has cycled through many ice ages and warm periods in the past.

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Those past events have been driven by natural changes such as:. Scientists can measure these natural changes.

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The warm periods that regularly occurred between the ice ages of the past million years or so can be explained by natural changes, but measurements of those changes today cannot explain the current levels of warming that we are experiencing. The rapid warming we are experiencing today can only be explained by increasing amounts of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

The link between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rising global temperatures has been clear to scientists since the s. Measurements show that there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than at any other time in the past 1 million years—that is, since the dawn of humankind. Earth is getting hotter. Scientists know that the warming climate is caused by human activities because: They understand how heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide work in the atmosphere They know why those gases are increasing in the atmosphere They have ruled out other possible explanations Human activities have increased the abundance of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

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Are human causing climate change?

The Basics of Climate Science. Separating Fact from Fantasy. The Changing Climate Path. Many are still asking is current global warming natural or human caused? The idea that global warming is natural is not an absurd question. In the natural cycle, global warming is natural.

The better question is, 'is current global warming natural'? There are multiple lines of evidence that point us to the origin of our current warming:. To understand why 'this current' global warming is human caused and not natural cycle, one needs to get an idea of what the natural cycle is and what are the basic mechanisms that cause climate change in the natural cycle.

The absolute essentials that you need to understand are the drivers:. How do we know the increase in CO 2 is human caused?

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There is an isotopic signature, like a fingerprint. CO 2 that comes from natural sources has a low carbon ratio. The pre-industrial atmospheric levels of CO 2 were around ppm parts per million.

Causes of Global Warming

As of the amount is ppm. The extra ppm does not have the carbon signature. The only other possible source that can account for the extra ppm is human industrial emissions of fossil fuels. Suke Manabe and other scientists, when modeling the climate in the 's at the Princeton Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, showed that increased CO 2 would cause the lower atmosphere to warm and the upper atmosphere to cool or warm less. This hypothesis has been observed in the data, which further supports the general accuracy of the models.

Virtually all climate models show that this is what should happen, and the observed data shows that this is occuring.

When protons from GCRs Galactic Cosmic Rays collide with the nitrogen seven protons plus seven neutrons in the nucleus in the air, carbon is created in addition to other isotopes such as beryllium through a nuclear reaction:. This means that carbon with a low isotope carbon ratio must come from deep in the ground, out of reach of cosmic rays.

Furthermore, the ratio of O 2 to N 2 has diminished. This is expected from the increased combustion of fossil fuels, in which O 2 combines with C to form CO 2. The oceans have also become more acidic, leading to an increase in CO 2 levels in both the atmosphere and the oceans. The above chart from the EPA has been notated with specific events to show how events that impact social economics systems impacts growth of industrial greenhouse gases.

Assessment of natural and anthropogenic human-caused influences indicate that the climate system would be relatively stable without industrial atmospheric influences such as greenhouse gases and aerosols. Source: Attribution. It is reasonably clear that without anthropogenic forcings the climate would be closer to thermal equilibrium relative to the Holocene radiative forcing.

Since carbon is created during exposure in the atmosphere, low isotope carbon has not been subjected to atmospheric exposure and therefore must have come from underground.

In other words, we dug it up, burned it, and now low isotope carbon is in the atmosphere.

human causes of global warming

That is how the two origins of carbon can be clearly identified, by the isotopic signature. Said another way, low isotope carbon is from fossil fuels, while the rest of the carbon has been in the natural cycle for longer periods. Longer expose times increase the C in the molecule. Carbon that is stored and released through natural processes such as the normal seasonal carbon breathing that occurs in plant life has a longer atmospheric lifetime.

There is a hoax going on, but it's not what some claim.But we are polluting the same water we will drink,polluting the same air we will need to respire and extensive use of strong chemical fertilizer which is ruining our crops instead of making them healthy. We as human expect a lot from others, but are we giving our nature back the same thing?

The answer is yes, but we are giving our nature the return gift for the favour of the nature, protecting us as pollution of water and air,destruction of forests and exploitation in the form of a mining of our mother earth.

Not,only this the contribution and sacrifice of these animals,trees and the whole ecosystem around us are the elements which have helped us in evolution from a nescient to an effective thinker. Our heart pumps and our mind throttles back saying, of course not at all. Climate change and associated impacts vary from region to region around the globe.

human causes of global warming

Due to increase in the greenhouse effect resulting especially from pollution and other activities such as, greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities mainly industrial processes and transportation. Atmospheric radiation is emitted to all sides. Thus, greenhouse gases trap heat within the surface-troposphere system. The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere by about thirty percent, due to Human beings have increased, the increase is proportional to increases in fossil fuel combustion ,for electricity generation, transportation, and heating, and also the manufacture of cementhuman caused emissions.

Increase in ozone levels in the stratosphere over Antarctica, are the result of complex chemical processes.

The return of the Sun at the end of winter triggers photochemical reactions that lead to the destruction of ozone in the stratosphere. As reported Over the Arctic the gradual development of an annual decline during the s, has been observed.

The Protection of the Ozone Layer amendments has been issued to eliminate certain CFCs from industrial production, the substantial destruction of ozone in the stratosphere over Antarctica, has not seen any improvement till date. The use of forests for fuel both wood, for charcoal and other necessary lifestyle products is one cause of deforestation. In order satiate ourselves, for wood and other products, mainly habitat and to build farms we are chopping forests which is not a good sign and has also leads to decrease in rainfalls.

Forests are very human friendly, they clean the air as they act as natural filters remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and this deforestation releases large amounts of carbon, as well as reducing the amount of carbon gas capture on the earth.

Methane is one of the greenhouse gases, which causes global warming. When organic matter is broken down by bacteria under oxygen-starved conditions as in agricultural fields, methane is produced. The process also takes place in the intestines of herbivorous animals, and with the increase in the amount of concentrated livestock production, the levels of methane released into the atmosphere is increasing.

Another source of methane is methane clathrate, a compound in large amounts of methane trapped in the crystal structure of ice. As methane escapes from the Arctic seabed, the rate of global warming increases, accordingly. This can be explained as, scattering of solar radiation acts to cool the planet, while the absorption of solar radiation by aerosols warms the air directly instead of absorption of sunlight from the surface of the Earth.

The concentrations of condensation nuclei are about three times higher in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere.

This higher concentration is estimated to result in radiation forcing that is only about 50 percent higher in the Northern Hemisphere as reported. Increase in sea levels is the result of melting of two massive ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland as researched by scientists.

human causes of global warming

However, many nations around the world will experience the effects of rising sea levels, which could displace millions of people. The Maldives a country is already looking for a new home due to rising sea levels. Majority of Americans living in coastal states, are facing large impacts due to global warming. Seawater expands, takes more space in the ocean and causes a surplus rise in water level and also the melting of ice over land, which then adds water to the ocean.

Some of the sea lions, sea urchins, kelp beds, and fish populations, appears to have extinct due to loss of plankton, decrease in population of sea lions, leading orcas to eat too many sea otters, leading to urchin explosions, leading to loss of various fish populations.

Water vapour is increasing in the atmosphere due to carbon dioxide-induced warming. Two-thirds of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is contained in water vapor, and as the average temperature on the planet to raises, the amount of water vapour rises in turn, leading to untimely rainfall which may further cause other natural calamities such as floods.

Surrounding sunspots are bright patches known as faculae. These patches give off greater than normal radiation, and they are more powerful than the darker, cooler patches.

This means that the total average energy over a day solar rotation increases, which gives way to many other after effects. Each time a fossil fuel burn, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increase. Auto mobiles, Carbon emissions from the burning of gasoline to power cars, trucks, and other methods of transportation.

Electricity generation requires, coal is the largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions, Therefore countries across the world want to switch to nuclear power plants. Mining oil, coal and other mineral products underlying in deep beds allow methane, a greenhouse gas, to escape from the earth.The bulk of the world's scientific community is in agreement that our planet is becoming warmer and that one of the main factors of global warming is human activity.

Scientists agree that the release of gases that prevent the dissipation of ground heat into space — a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect — is responsible. The gases primarily responsible for global warming include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons CFCs.

Humans produce them by burning fossil fuels and engaging in various agricultural and industrial activities. The Earth itself also contributes with natural processes that create greenhouse gases and accelerate the warming trend.

Although carbon dioxide receives the most press as the culprit responsible for global warming, water vapor is actually the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide still deserves its notoriety, however. It may be a minor component of the atmosphere, but its increased abundance is contributing to the warming trend, according to NASA. Humans exacerbate the problem by cutting trees that absorb this gas and by adding other greenhouse gases to the mixture over and above those that enter through natural processes. In addition, one of the global warming causes might be astronomical.

The Earth receives its warmth from the sun, so it's reasonable to suspect that our home star may be one of the reasons for global warming. Although the amount of energy coming from the sun does vary and may have been responsible for warming in the past, however, NASA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC have ruled this out as a cause of the current warming trend. The average energy coming from the sun generally has remained constant sinceand the warming does not occur uniformly throughout the atmosphere.

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The upper layer is actually cooling as the bottom layer becomes warmer. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been burning fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum for energy, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A quarter of this is for heat and electricity, while another quarter is for other industrial processes and transportation, which includes gasoline- or diesel-powered cars, trucks, trains and airplanes. The other half of the energy is used for various other purposes, including agriculture, cement production and oil and gas production.

These processes also release other greenhouse gases, such as methane and CFCs, although the concentration of CFCs has declined since their use was banned in The agricultural practices that produce food for the people on earth is another of the human causes of climate change.

human causes of global warming

The use of both commercial and organic fertilizers releases nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas. Methane, another important greenhouse gas, comes from many natural sources, but also from the digestive systems of livestock raised for meat production as well as the decomposition of waste in landfills and the burning of biomass.

The increased demand for meat and dairy cattle has lead to the creation of feed lots in otherwise forested areas. Logging for wood and paper and clearing for crop production also requires trees to be cut, sometimes illegally. One mature tree absorbs as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide each year, and by one estimate3. According to Scientific Americandeforestation is responsible for 15 percent of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

As the atmosphere warms, it is able to hold more water, which is already the most abundant greenhouse gas. This creates a feedback loop that accelerates global warming. It also creates more clouds, rainstorms and other symptoms of climate change. At the poles, the warming of the atmosphere melts the ice cover, exposing water, which is less reflective than ice.

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The water absorbs the sun's heat, and the oceans also become warmer as a result. Chris Deziel holds a Bachelor's degree in physics and a Master's degree in Humanities, He has taught science, math and English at the university level, both in his native Canada and in Japan.

He began writing online inoffering information in scientific, cultural and practical topics.However, since the Industrial Revolution began in the late s, the world's climate has been changing in a rapid and unprecedented way. The average global temperature has risen 1. Temperatures are projected to rise another 2 degrees to Some have confused global warming as persistent, increasing warmth. While the global temperature is increasing, it may not translate to a higher temperature in an individual location.

Understanding the causes of global warming is the first step to curbing its effects. Earth's climate is the result of a balance between the amount of incoming energy from the sun and energy being radiated out into space. Ultraviolet UV radiation has a higher energy level than visible light, and infrared IR radiation has a lower energy level.

Some of the sun's incoming radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere, the oceans and the surface of the Earth. Much of it, however, is reflected out to space as low-energy infrared radiation. As Earth's atmosphere changes, however, the amount of infrared radiation leaving the atmosphere also changes. Since the Industrial Revolution, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gasoline have greatly increased the amount of carbon dioxide CO2 in the atmosphere, according to NASA's Earth Observatory.

Before the industrial revolution, during warm interglacial periods, the concentration of CO2in the atmosphere hovered around parts per million ppm. In Aprilthe concentration hit ppm for the first time in recorded history. The director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography CO2 group wrote at the time that levels are expected to hit ppm byunless greenhouse gas emissions drop significantly. Along with other gases like methane and nitrous oxide, CO2 acts like a blanket, absorbing infrared radiation and preventing it from leaving the atmosphere.

The net effect causes the gradual heating of Earth's atmosphere and surface. This is called the " greenhouse effect " because a similar process occurs in a greenhouse: Relatively high-energy UV and visible radiation penetrate the glass walls and roof of a greenhouse, but weaker IR can't pass through the glass.

The trapped infrared keeps the greenhouse warm, even in the coldest winter weather. There are several gases in Earth's atmosphere known as "greenhouse gases" because they exacerbate the greenhouse effect: Carbon dioxide CO2methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor and ozone are among the most prevalent, according to NASA. Not all greenhouse gases are the same: Some, like methane, are produced through agricultural practices including livestock manure management.

Others, like CO2, largely result from natural processes like respiration and from the burning of fossil fuels. Additionally, these greenhouses gases don't contribute equally to the greenhouse effect: Methane, for example, is about 20 times more effective at trapping heat from IR than carbon dioxide, according to the U. This difference in heat-trapping ability is sometimes referred to as a gas's "global-warming potential," or GWP.

InCO2 accounted for about 82 percent of all U. Methane CH4 is the second most common greenhouse gas.