What comes to our minds when we hear any topic on Global Warming? This has been a heated topic as human activities are believed to relate to the controversial issues on the environment. Global warming is the gradual increase in the heat of the earth surface, the atmosphere, and the oceans. Quite some factors contribute to global warming, but they are into two categories which are natural factors and human activities. According to Rao (124), several scientists have concluded that it is the human activities that contribute significantly to global warming. They are confident that there is a direct relationship between social events and global warming. However, many people continue to debate over the issue of whether global warming is as a result of human activities or not. Based on several pieces of evidence from researchers, it is quite evident that human beings are the leading contributors to global warming.
The impact of climate change has increased over the years, and global warming is one of the notable effects that continue to affect human beings, plants as well as animals. There are several natural causes of global warming global warming such as emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and volcanic eruption. However, human activities also remain to be the main reason for the existence of global warming (Fischer & Knutti 560). Human activities that contribute to global warming primarily involve deforestation and burning of fossil fuels as they add to the release of greenhouse gases that find their way to the ozone layer to trap more heat.
The burning of fossil fuels such as gas, oil, and coal to produce electricity and power vehicles releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that find their way into the atmosphere. Many nations have not embraced the use of renewable sources of energy such as the sun to produce electricity for daily use. Therefore, fossil fuels produce billions of tones every year. The toxic materials get trapped in the atmosphere, and the earth eventually becomes warm each day. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases, and as it settles in the atmosphere, it allows most of the sunlight to pass through to warm the air but does not allow the excess heat into space. Burning of fuels released an increased amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere making the earth to become warmer than the average amount of carbon dioxide is to ensure that the earth surface maintains the right temperature.
Generation of electricity is the leading contributor to carbon pollution as stated by wwf.org. Australia remains the leading contributors to global warming when unlike other countries of the world. Australia has high carbon dioxide emission which is twice the average of many developed nations, and it is four times more than the total global emission. According to wwf.org, approximately 73% of Australian electricity is from burning of coal while 13% is from burning gas. Only 14% of power comes from renewable sources of energy like solar, hydropower, and wind that do not release carbon dioxide. It is thus necessary for nations to start embracing renewable sources of energy as it significantly contributes to the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which translates to the reduced impact of global warming.
Human beings also clear forests for agricultural activities and residential buildings thus contribute to global warming. Once farmers clear trees from their natural habitat, it reduces the ability of the trees to aid in the recycling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The amount of tree leaves that will utilize carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, and gas remains trapped in the atmosphere.
According to Lawrences and Vandecar (27), deforestation contributes to 10% of the total global emissions. The forests clearing occur due as a result of creating room for agricultural production to sustain the ever-growing food demand of the increasing population. Forests have been cleared to facilitate global trade of palm oil, soybeans, beef, and wood products as people intend to make a livelihood from such activities. The demand for quality products also leads to the need to conduct agricultural operations in more fertile lands hence clearing of forests to pave the way for such activities. Fortunately, reducing deforestation could solve global warming. People should thus consider other innovative techniques such as hydroponics to produce sufficient food to meet the demand of the growing population.
Rearing of livestock also contributes to global warming. One way is that farmers will tend to clear more forests to provide grazing lands for their animals. Other methods that livestock lead to global warming is through respiration digestion and excretion. Animals immensely contribute to global warming, and until human beings continue to rear a large number of animals, there will still be increased rate of emission of the greenhouse gases to the atmosphere leading to global warming. A study by Reisinger and Clark (1755) reveals that agriculture as one of the human activities contributes to approximately between 10% and 12% of the world’s current global human emission of greenhouse gases which mainly is from livestock. However, these percentages are arrived at due to the global warming potentials, they do not include the actual global emissions of methane gas which is also a greenhouse gas, but it does accumulate in the atmosphere differently from the carbon dioxide hence not measured.
Moreover, the measurement for contribution depends on a model that emphasizes on carbon cycle; hence other gases are given less consideration. The contribution of livestock to global warming is on direct livestock, but non-carbon dioxide emission causes 19% of the total global warming which is 0.81 degree Celsius and the emission of carbon dioxide that results from the conversion of pastures also contribute to 0.03 degree Celsius of global warming. Therefore, in 2010, livestock contributed to global warming by at least 23% of the overall global warming (Reisinger & Clark 17557). Thus, the effect of the direct livestock emission of carbon dioxide relies heavily on universal human actions to reduce these emissions.
It is estimated that the direct non-carbon dioxide livestock emission will only contribute to 5% of the total global warming as opposed to the previous 19%. It will thus contribute to about 0.27 degree Celsius of global warming (Reisinger & Clark 1760). The reduction of emissions from other sectors to below zero as in 2100 will immensely decrease global warming. The estimates, however, provides the lower bounds considering that it does not include the indirect emission attributed to the production of livestock feeds as well as the supply chain which also increases the carbon footprint. Therefore, it is necessary to implement strict measures on any activity that revolves around livestock production to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases like methane thus achieving the ultimate goal of decreasing impacts of global warming.
Another human activity that contributes to global warming is using cement for construction. In as such as cement aid in the development of homes and new roads, one of the disadvantages is that it cannot be reused, but its demand continues to rise (Salas et al., 114). The drilling of the earth to extract cement continues but with time it gets depleted and the ground left bare without any plant to provide anchorage. Firms will continue to remove cement, and its impact will eventually be global warming. Cement production releases carbon dioxide directly or indirectly through heating of the limestone and using fossil fuel to burn the kiln. However, efficient measures to reduce carbon dioxide emission is by implementing the use of technologically improved approaches like installation of materials that absorb carbon directly from the kiln without releasing it into the air (Salas et al., 120). The introduction of a carbon tax can also ensure that cement manufacturers pay for the extra carbon dioxide produced other than the recommended amount of carbon dioxide emission.
In as much as there results from different studies indicate that human is the leading contributors of global warming due to various activities, they would not have continued with such activities if there were strict regulations concerning emission of greenhouse gases (Fischer & Knutti 560). Human has always engaged in activities such as agriculture and livestock rearing for decades, but it was on a small scale. However, the population continues to increase, and there is a need to meet the rising demand of the people thus calls for commercial production by almost every farmer. As many people shift to urban centers, few farmers are left in rural areas to produce sufficient agricultural produce to the city population. Farmers, therefore, use more sophisticated production techniques such as chemical fertilizers and farming machines thus contributes to environmental pollution and adds to the impacts of global warming. Besides even natural causes like volcanic eruption causes global warming. Human beings are therefore not only the contributors to global warming, but there are several factors as well.
In general, human beings are the leading contributors to global warming. Human activities like burning of fossil fuels leads to the increased concentration of carbon dioxide. Deforestation limits the ability of the trees to absorb carbon dioxide thus leads to high levels of carbon dioxide. Rearing of livestock not only contributes to global warming directly through the emission of methane from animal waste but also indirectly through the production of animal feeds. Cement production also contributes to global warming directly through the burning of limestone and using energy in the kiln. Fortunately, the good news is that it is possible to reduce the impact of global warming.
Human beings should consider using renewable sources of energy like wind, hydro, and solar power. They should also use innovative measures like hydroponics to produce food instead of clearing the forests for agriculture. There should be strict rules and regulations governing the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases thus reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into air and finally reducing the impact of global warming.
Fischer, Erich M., and Reto Knutti. “Anthropogenic contribution to the global occurrence of heavy-precipitation and high-temperature extremes.” Nature Climate Change 5.6 (2015): 560.
Lawrence, Deborah, and Karen Vandecar. “Effects of tropical deforestation on climate and agriculture.” Nature Climate Change 5.1 (2015): 27.
Rao, P. M. The economics of global climatic change. Routledge, 2016. (124-155)
Reisinger, Andy, and Harry Clark. “How much do direct livestock emissions contribute to global warming?.” Global change biology 24.4 (2018): 1749-1761.
Salas, Daniel Andrés, et al. “Environmental impacts, life cycle assessment and potential improvement measures for cement production: a literature review.” Journal of Cleaner Production113 (2016): 114-122.
wwf.org. Causes of Global Warming. Retrieved on March 4, 2019, from https://www.wwf.org.au/what-we-do/climate/causes-of-global-warming#gs.kdAxGGeH