Causes of Climate Change: 8 Human Causes of Climate Change. Eight human activities that cause climate change. Impact of human activities on climate and weather. Man-made cause of climate change.
Climate change means a change in the atmosphere of specific areas for a long time. It also refers to the new condition of the weather, including drought, temperature, rain, earthquake, snowfall, and so more. Climate change brings different weather on the Planet different than in previous years. The climate of the Earth has been changed in the current decades. It is related to global warming that is a much-talked topic globally. Global warming denotes increasing the temperature of the Earth. However, climate change does not only mention the rising temperature but also reduces the Earth’s temperature.
The temperature on the Planet has risen dramatically in the last 100 years. For instance, the Planet is 2 degrees Celsius warmer than last century. However, the Earth’s temperature has never been constant; instead, it evolves from time to time. The last five years were the warmest year in the current age. The top country leaders, including the prime ministers in America, Canada, and Australia aware of the climate change topic. World leaders and scientists have come up with a vision to control the Planet’s temperature.
Causes of Climate Change
Based on the previous studies, the most common two types of climate change causes are the natural causes and human causes of climate change. Natural causes refer to the physical factors that contribute to the change of the atmosphere on the Earth. On the other hand, human causes mean artificial factors and people’s activities that change to climate on the Earth. Based on the studies, the author has outlined nine major natural and eight human causes of climate change on the Planet.
Human Causes of Climate Change
Human causes refer to the people’s activities that change the atmosphere on the Planet. People’s activities affect climate change directly. Therefore, it is also known as the anthropogenic cause of climate change. Anthropogenic denotes human activities that pollute the environment. People pollute the environment directly, which changes the climate; therefore, it is known as the human cause.
What are the human causes of climate change?
The eight human causes of climate change are
- Burning Fossil Fuels
- Livestock Production
- Fluorinated Gases
- Chemical Fertilizers
- Fluorinated Gases
- Industrial Gases
- Food Waste
- Transport Vehicles.
These are the crucial human activities that cause climate change on the Planet.
1. Burning Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuel burning is the most crucial human cause that enhances the temperature on the Planet. Fossil fuels contain a large amount of carbon and hydrogen gases beneath the Earth’s crust. They are made from decomposing animals and plants. The most common examples of fossil fuels are natural gas, bitumen, oil, coal, tar sands, and petroleum. People burn fossil fuels to generate energy for electricity and transportation. Fossil fuels release greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), that trap heat in the atmosphere. So, burning fossil fuels is a catastrophic cause of global warming. They are the source of 80% of Earth’s energy that is not renewable. The average temperature of the Earth has risen around 1-degree Celsius and sea level. As a result, people experience scorching weather in summer. It is also caused to biodiversity destruction, plant and animal extinction, worsening health conditions of people globally.
Deforestation is another human cause of environmental change in the Planet that occurs by the people’s activities. People are directly associated with deforestation that affects biodiversity and the ecosystem on the Earth. Deforestation means cutting the forest areas by humans. People cut trees in the forest for urbanization, crop cultivation, and mining factors. Since 1960, the deforestation process has reduced the forest areas on the Earth excessively, which contributes to change the atmosphere. According to the oxygen cycle, people inhale oxygen and exhale the carbon dioxide that trees consume. On the other hand, trees receive carbon dioxide and release oxygen for the respiration process.
The more trees on the Planet consume, the more significant amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere due to deforestation. Deforestation destroys the carbon stores and releases the carbon dioxide on the Planet. It is a primary human cause of rising greenhouse gases and climate change. According to a study in 2019, deforestation is responsible for an increase of 11 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2).
3. Livestock Production
Livestock production is another primary human cause of climate change. It contributes to producing greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. Livestock production is the agricultural process of farming domestic animals, including breeding, caring, and raising them. Nowadays, people farm domestic animals for commercial purposes to produce meat, milk, leather, etc. The most common animals in livestock farms are cows and sheep. These animals generate methane(CH4) when they consume and digest foods. A report shows that cows generate around 150 billion gallons of methane gas every day.
Methane is one of the greenhouse gases that contribute to raising the temperature on the Planet. Livestock production is responsible for producing 14.5 percent of greenhouse gases. Domestic animal farming produces a large amount of carbon footprint that causes climate change. As people are actively associated with livestock, it is optimal to say that livestock production is an essential human cause of climate change.
4. Chemical Fertilizers
Chemical fertilizer is responsible for changing the climate on the Earth; therefore, it is another man-made cause of climate change. People produce chemical fertilizers to use in modern agriculture.
Chemical fertilizers are modern fertilizers formed with chemical syntheses such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, etc. These ingredients contain nutrients for the plants. Fertilizers containing nitrogen produce nitrous oxide emissions. The farmers use chemical fertilizers to get more benefits from the farm. Although these fertilizers help to grow plants quickly and produce more corn and fruits, chemical fertilizers have adverse consequences on the environment.
For example, nitrogen-based chemical fertilizers emit nitrous oxide (N2O), known as greenhouse gas(GHG). It is said that nitrous oxide (N2O) is a long-lived greenhouse gas produced by agricultural activities. Chemical fertilizers contain nitrate (NO3–) and ammonia (NH4+). As a result, chemical fertilizer in agriculture generates critical greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). Nitrous oxide (N2O) traps the heat in the atmosphere that allows shortwave infrared to enter the Earth and obstacle the longwave Infrared to return toward the sun. The percentage of nitrous oxide in greenhouse gasses is 10-14 percent. People are responsible for producing 80% nitrous oxide by modern agriculture. The scientists warned the modern farmer to reduce chemical fertilizers in agriculture to combat the climate change problem.
5. Fluorinated Gases
Fluorinated gases are also human causes of climate change as people produce these gases for commercial purposes. The most common fluorinated gases are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), nitrogen difluoride perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). People produce these fluorinated gases as the elements of aerosol cans, air conditions, refrigerators, and so more. These gases are crucial materials to produce semiconductors in the factory.
Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
- Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)
- Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)
- Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
The fluorinated gases are also powerful GHG that trap temperature in the atmosphere. Fluorinated greenhouse gases are also known as F-gases that are responsible for global warming. According to the report, fluorinated greenhouse gases affect global warming more than 23000 times than carbon dioxide (CO2).
6. Industrial Gases
Industrial gasses include carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, helium, noble gases, etc. These gases can be produced from two types of human activities: people intentionally produce them and industrial gases emitted from industrial factories. Firstly, people produce these industrial gases in factories for commercial purposes. They compress these gases into liquid in the cylinder to sell them in the market. Secondly, electrical factories generate carbon dioxide and nitrogen when producing goods and energy. In the United States, electricity production factories emit 40 percent carbon dioxide (CO2).
Industrial gases such as carbon dioxide and gaseous nitrogen materials are greenhouse gases that affect ozone depletion. The quantity of industrial gas emissions is increasing due to rising factories globally.
7. Food Waste
Food waste is one of the silent human causes of climate change that many people do not know. For example, many people waste foods intentionally without knowing the negative consequences of food waste. Food waste occurs during processing and distribution from the seller to the buyer. It is estimated that American people waste around 40 percent of their food yearly. Additionally, Americans waste around 27,000 gallons of water annually by throwing vegetables, fruits, eggs, and beef. Food waste produces methane(CH4) gas when it decomposes in landfills. Methane(CH4) is a powerful greenhouse gas that causes global warming and climate change on the Earth. The study shows that around 6-8 percent methane gas is emitted from wasted food. Therefore, food waste is a significant factor of climate change that many people do not know.
8. Transport Vehicles
Transport vehicles consume fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most devastating greenhouse gas that raises the temperature. It is estimated that vehicles generate around 30 percent of greenhouse gases. The greenhouse gas emission has been increased rapidly in the last 30 years.
Natural causes refer to the actual elements and actions that contribute to change the atmosphere of the Earth. It is also known as the physical cause of climate change. Natural factors occur naturally from the natural cycle of the Planet. The most common physical causes are the Milankovitch cycle, ocean, gravity, forest fire, solar activities, volcano, and greenhouse gases(GHG). People can’t control these factors therefore these are known as natural causes. Some factors contribute to increasing temperature on the Planet; on the other hand, other factors trigger to reduce them. These natural causes stimulate change to the condition of the Planet instantly and slowly.
1. Solar Activities
Solar activities mean releasing various types of radiation from the sun from time to time. It includes sunspots, solar flares, and solar radiation. For example, sunspots release more solar radiation compare to the regular portion of the sun that makes the Planet warmer. So, the sun’s heat depends on the solar activities driven by the sunspots. Recently scientists have identified many sunspots on the sun’s outer layer that emit a larger number of solar radiation. However, the temperature in the sunspot is lower than the natural part of the sun. It seems like a black hole that gets visible for the magnetic cycle. Sunspots occur from the storm on the surface. It is the most crucial factor in the sun that emits solar flares.
The sunspot’s temperature is around 3,800 degrees Kelvin, and the sun’s average temperature is 5,800 degrees Kelvin. So, the sunspot’s temperature is lower than another part of the sun. Sunspots emit many ultraviolet rays that hit the Planet’s surface and increase the temperature. It takes around 11 years to reach the sunspots on a peak known as the solar maximum. The solar minimum of the solar cycle occurs when there is a small number of sunspots visible. In recent decades, the Planet’s temperature has risen 0.1 degrees Celsius due to solar maximum. It makes the sun brighter and the Planet warmer.
2. Volcanic Eruptions
Volcanic eruption is a natural hazard that occurs naturally. It releases a massive number of dust, magma, and gases that affect the environment. The most adverse impact of the volcanic eruption is destroying the ecosystems. Many people can die from the eruption who stay near to the place. Additionally, it raises around 1100 degrees Celsius temperature of the surrounding area. The lava can set fire on the forest that causes forest fires. Volcanic eruption destroys animal diversity and the ecosystem when it occurs in the ocean. The dust and gases emitted from the volcanic eruption make a dark ash cloud on the atmosphere. This ash cloud works like a sheet that reflects the sun’s radiation. Solar radiation cannot enter the Planet due to the ash cloud in the sky. Therefore, the ground place gets colder than the average temperature.
Many people believe that volcano eruptions raise the Planet’s temperature that is not true. The boiling lava emitted from the volcano increases the surrounding temperature for a short time. However, the ash cloud reflects the solar radiation that makes the surrounding area colder for a long time.
3. Axial Tilt
The Milankovitch Cycle describes the entire process of how the planet orbit the sun. The Planet needs 365 days to move around the sun. At the same time, the sun needs only 24 fours to rotate on its axis.
Axial tilt is the angle of the Planet that occurs during rotation. It relates to the angle within the orbital and perpendicular plane. Axial tilt is also called obliquity. The axial tilt or obliquity is responsible for the various seasons on the Planet. The Planet is 23.5 degrees tilted from its orbital plane. Usually, the obliquity differs from a minimum of 22.1 degrees and 24.5 degrees during rotation. The season gets extended when the axial tilt is maximum, and the season gets shorter when the axial tilt is minimum. The Planet consumes more solar radiation when it rotates with maximum tilted towards the sun. In contrast, the Planet receives less heat from the sun when it tilts the opposite side of the sun.
The cycle takes 41,000 years to get back to the ice age; people will see the ice age again after 41,000 years. The Planet is 23.5 degrees tilted towards the sun; therefore, it receives more heat from the sun. It is the reason for extended summer and winter on the Planet.
Precession is the transition of rotational axis’ adjustment for the gravity power. It relates to the action of the gyroscope power. It takes around 26,000 years to complete the entire cycle. The Planet wobbles towards the sun or opposite the sun after this period that contributes to the change in the climate. The Planet gets more solar radiation when it leans toward the sun for precession. On the other hand, it gets less heat when tilted opposite the sun. So, precession is the natural cause to change the atmosphere on the Planet.
Eccentricity refers to the Planet’s position while moving around the sun; therefore, it is called orbital eccentricity. The Planet takes 365 days to orbit the sun completely. The Planet does not follow the same path to move the sun. We know that the Planet moves around the sun on a circle that is not true. The Planet does not move the sun in the same way. Sometimes, it moves the sun elliptical way. So, it measures the deviation of the circular path of the Planet. Orbital eccentricity is included the deviation of the circular and elliptical way of the Planet’s movement around the sun. The variation of the Earth’s movement around the sun controls the solar radiation received from the sun. The deviation path sets the distance between the Planet and the sun.
The summer season is longer than the winter season due to the orbital path variation. The summer season is around 5 days longer than the winter season. The Planet is located approximately 94.5 million miles away from the sun in the summer season. So, the Planet receives more solar radiation from the sun when it locates the farthest distance. It receives more heat, not for distance but the position of the Planet. In contrast, the Planet locates around 91.4 million miles far from the sun in the winter season. The Planet moves around the sun in a short distance during the winter season. The cycle takes around 100,000 years to complete the round. Now the position of the Planet and sun is not circular rather, it is elliptical in shape with the eccentricity e ≈ 0.0167.
6. Continental Drift by Plate Tectonics
Continental drift means movement of the Planet’s plate tectonic called a change in the Planet’s crust. The Planet has seven continents, and the position of these continents is not constant. The research has shown that few continental drifts are moving slowly. The process of movement is prolonged. The movement motion is approximately 0.5 to 10 cm annually.
Hence, the movement of continental drift causes to change the atmosphere on the Planet. It has both positive and negative consequences on the Planet. The continent is set on the Planet’s crust, and each continent is separated from another. The tectonic crust differs into two types of crust such as less dense and more dense crust. These tectonic crusts move slowly and independently. The movement of these crusts is responsible for earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunami. Few factors provide evidence of the Planet’s crust movement, such as crust collision, subduction, spreading, and movement fault. The plate tectonic collision is the main reason for the earthquakes. Recently, a study showed that the Himalayan mountain height has extended due to the clash between Indian and Eurasian plates.
The collision between plates is also responsible for volcanic eruptions. It emits lava that is made from molten rock. So, continental drift is responsible for changing the atmosphere on the Planet.
7. Ocean Current
The ocean current refers to the continuous movement of the ocean waters. It is one of the crucial physical causes to change the environment. The ocean current is formed from the gravitation power between the sun and moon, winds, and the Planet’s axial rotation. The ocean occupies around 75% of the Planet’s area; therefore, it absorbs most solar radiation emitted from the sun. The solar radiation evaporates the ocean water and generates vapor gases(H20). Although the land receives some solar radiation, it returns some heat to space. The ocean release very little heat compared to the land areas. The solar radiation evaporates the water and creates the ocean current. The evaporation process raises the temperature in the surrounding areas on Planet. However, it makes rains by the evaporation cycle that reduce the temperature and humidity.
The ocean current melts the ice of the northern part that increases the sea level. It is responsible for melting the ice in raising the sea level continuously. The Planet’s weather gets changes rapidly if there are no ocean currents. It warms the Planet.
8. Natural Forest Fire
Forest fires mean burning a forest for natural and human activities. Wild forest fire is the burning of a forest due to natural causes such s drought and lightning. It is a physical or biological cause of environmental change. Fires always create smoke, dust, greenhouse gases, and heat. These elements undoubtedly raise the temperature of the surrounding areas.
The most common types of forest fires are natural and human forest fires. Wild forest fires occur naturally without humans’ activities. On the other hand, human forest fires mean setting the fire by the people intentionally or unintentionally. Forest fires can burn millions of plants, animals, insects, and birds. Its impacts the ecosystem and diversity extremely. The studies have shown that natural forest fires are only 18 percent and artificial forest fires occupy 82 percent.
The warm temperature during the summer season triggers to set fire in the forest. It engulfs the entire forest within a short time. Although lightning and drought are responsible for setting fire in the woods, the wind soon spread the fires.
The forest fires can make a green forest into a dark desert. Forest fires release a large number of greenhouse gases, for example, carbon dioxide (Co2), methane (Ch4), and ashes. The greenhouse gas, especially carbon dioxide, traps the heat in space that increases the temperature on the Planet. Additionally, it spoils the soil nutrient and creates methane gases that also contribute to raising the temperature on the Planet.
9. Natural Greenhouse Gases
There are two types of greenhouse gases: natural greenhouse gas created naturally and greenhouse gases produced by human activities. Natural greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H2O), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ozone (O3). These gases contribute to increase the Planet’s temperature by trapping heat on the temperature. The volcanic eruption, forest fire, and ocean current generate carbon dioxide and water vapor, greenhouse gases. These gases can be created without human involvement; therefore, they are natural greenhouse gases.
These greenhouse gases let the solar radiation enter the Planet easily; however, they trap the heat in space without letting them go back. So, the greenhouse gases stimulate to raise the temperature on the Planet.
Effect of Climate Change
There are two types of effects of climate change on the Planet: the direct and indirect impact of climate change.
Direct Impact of Climate Change
Climate change increases the maximum temperatures and reduces the minimum temperatures level. The prolonged maximum temperature melts the ice in the northern part and increases the sea level. Additionally, It raises the temperature of the ocean and brings a humid atmosphere. The higher temperature of the ocean evaporates water into vapor and makes heavy rains.
Indirect Impact of Climate Change
Climate change creates a water crisis, and the groundwater level is getting down day by day. In many developing countries, people suffer from water crises. These countries experience drought and flood every year. After all, it increases hunger and diseases among poor people. Climate change is directly responsible for to loss of diversity and ecosystem crisis. The contamination of the CO₂ and HCO3 concentrations in the water creates acid rain that bad for people’s health.
Climate change is also responsible for floods, erosion, landslides, and salinization. The sea level is increasing day by day due to global warming.
The author has represented the eight human causes of climate change and nine natural causes of climate change. People cannot prevent the biological causes of climate change. However, people can prevent human causes of climate change.