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Global warming and other environmental issues have been the biggest concern in the current world. But, unfortunately, many things are not going right. And if we want to achieve sustainable development, it is necessary to understand the various factors that are causing shifts in climate and degrading the environment.
Many individuals are not keen to conserve the immediate environment because they have not experienced certain changes. Only those who have experienced adverse weather conditions advocate for measures to conserve the environment.
That should not be the case because, with the current rate of environmental degradation and climate change, we are all bound to face the consequences shortly. Therefore, if we have to save the future generation, we must understand the various factors contributing to climate change to address them effectively.
Sometimes we fail to offer sustainable models on conserving the environment because we are not aware of the major agents that degrade our setting. Here are some elements you must know to protect the immediate environment from effecting positive change in the climate.
What Causes Climate Change?
Climate change has been occurring since the Earth was formed. However, some phenomena we are experiencing now started a long time ago. In most cases, natural factors are the main causative agents, but human activities accelerate them. For example, volcanic eruptions, plate tectonics, and changes in the Earth’s orbit are some of the natural causes leading to climate change.
There have been series of glacial and interglacial periods over the past million years, but they have not been severe as they are now. We have experienced interglacial periods with constant temperature for a long period. This has changed, resulting in global warming that is a big international crisis. From the global industrialization in early 1800, we have seen a steady increase in temperature, and we can attribute it to human factors. Burning fossils and changes in land-use patterns have become major contributors to global warming.
The gases we produce pile in the atmosphere and trap heat, preventing it from escaping. In essence, the gases allow heat from the sun to heat the land and water bodies but do not permit terrestrial radiation to escape. As a result, these greenhouse gases act as a warming blanket in the atmosphere known as the greenhouse effect.
These gases come from both natural and human sources. Human activities mainly produce major gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
In as much as greenhouse gases are critical for our survival, we need to control them to avoid global warming because they can threaten our entire existence.
Human Causes of Climate Change
The major problem with humans is that we release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It is estimated that the level of carbon dioxide rose by 40% between 20th and 21st centuries. The major causes are attributed to:
- Burning of fossil fuels – these fuels contain locked carbon dioxide. When they are burned, they make it available in the atmosphere, increasing the overall percentage.
- Deforestation – forests act as carbon banks. They take away and store available carbon in the atmosphere. However, deforestation reduces forests causing more carbon dioxide to be retained in the air.
- Cement – producing cement also releases a significant amount of CO2 into the atmosphere.
- Agriculture – rearing animals and growing crops releases a significant amount of gases in the atmosphere. For instance, animals produce methane, which is a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxide in fertilizers is also worse and more potent than CO2.
There is little we can do about natural phenomena. However, several natural changes occur because of human activities. Therefore, we can stand a good chance to overcome global warming if we can control our activities.
We have a responsibility to undertake if we want to live a sustainable life. Sustainable development ensures that we utilize resources today, minding the future generation. We have highlighted the major causes of climatic and environmental changes to help you know how your activities contribute to global warming. We can all work together to cause a positive change in the environment if we care for the immediate environment.
Conserving what we have will help us to achieve the bigger objective. Suppose we want to make sure our climatic conditions are stable. In that case, we must first deal with minor issues such as ensuring we do sustainable agriculture and consider afforestation and re-afforestation.