Anthropogenic Climate Change
Man’s activities have resulted into a surge in the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen dioxide leading to an increment in the global temperatures as the gases, form a sheet preventing the sun’s rays from escaping into the atmosphere. In normal circumstances, the heat would be radiated back into the atmosphere through terrestrial radiation (Aizebeokhai, 2009). The increased atmosphere results in the greenhouse effect which is characterized by increased global temperatures. Climate change is the overall effect and is seen in changes in precipitation patterns whereby rainfall decreases in some areas, melting of the ice-caps, increased global warming characterized by heat waves and even a reduction in the snow cover. The snow cover in Greenland, for example, is becoming thinner and thinner whereas the winters are becoming warmer. Climate change can be attributed mainly to man’s activities all over the world. Industrialization has majorly increased the global concentration of carbon dioxide leading to a rise in temperatures by 0.74 degrees over the past 100 years (Mgbemene et al., 2016). Thus, anthropogenic climate change refers to the human activities that have interfered with the natural environment, the land, water and air resulting in a different climatic pattern. Analyzed below are some of the anthropogenic activities that have resulted in climatic change.
Increased industrial activity is the primary cause of increasing carbon emission in the atmosphere. Factories have been established all over the world for manufacturing and processing activities, and carbon dioxide is the by-product of the fuel used in companies. Presently, industrialized countries account for up to 80% of the carbon dioxide build up in the atmosphere. Also, it has been found that the atmospheric concentration due to anthropogenic activities had dramatically increased from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million (Mgbemene et al. 2016). Carbon dioxide traps the heat in the atmosphere thus resulting in global warming. The effect is evident in the rising temperatures of the earth and the unpredictable rainfall patterns.
Car emissions and emissions from power plants also aid in trapping atmospheric heat through the greenhouse gases released. Faulty car exhausts have been blamed on the pollution in cities as they release unfiltered carbon. Many developing countries importing such vehicles are creating a time bomb as the effects are going to be witnessed in due time. Cities in the developed nations, on the other hand, are taking steps to curb the carbon emissions. Oslo is planning to ban all cars from its city centers by 2019 to create a sustainable development. This decision is because such cities have noticed that traffic congestion caused by many cars triple the carbon dioxide released at any given time (Mgbemene et al., 2016).
Deforestation has also largely contributed to global warming. Man is continuously clearing land for farming, settlements, and establishment of industries. The trees that would have otherwise filtered the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere end up in the furnace (Naudé, 2011). Desertification that is slowly creeping in the tropics is because of climatic change due to the excessive cutting of trees. Besides, excessive farming also increases the methane gas in the atmosphere. Many farmers use compost manure which is made from decomposing matter. The manure release methane as they decompose to form the fertilizer (Naudé, 2011). Farmers are increasingly keeping large herds of cattle in a bid to increase their profitability. The animal wastes also constitute a portion of the methane released into the atmosphere. The larger the pack, the more the methane released and vice versa. Methane combines with other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to cause climatic change. Methane is also emitted during coal mining and in the transportation of natural gas and oil. Even though it is naturally abundant in the earth’s atmosphere, human activities like fossil fuel extraction and agricultural activities have increased the concentration of methane in the atmosphere considerably to three times the percentage of the period before industrialization.
The increased population of the world has also created a need for more food, land for settlement, automobiles, and fuel for cooking and to power factories. The result is increased agricultural activity which has seen more land cleared for creation of farms (Aizebeokhai, 2009). The population explosion has contributed directly to increased carbon in the atmosphere as man has to adjust to the changes. More vehicles are being purchased and more fossil fuels burnt for production purposes in factories. These perspectives show that the primary cause of climate change is anthropogenic activities.
Excessive farming on land increases the percentage of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Anthropogenic activities, like the burning of fossil fuel, also contribute to the release of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Since the industrial revolution, the concentration of nitrous oxide has risen by almost 20 percent (Aizebeokhai, 2009). Additionally, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) found in coolants, solvents, pesticides, and aerosols used by man in their daily life also form part of the greenhouse emissions that affect the climate over time.
It is evident that human activity concerning the change in land use resulting in decreased plant cover has changed the earth’s reflectivity. Deforestation, desertification, industrialization, and urbanization have altered the natural climates (Mgbemene et al., 2016). Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are being released in excess due to anthropogenic activities. There is need to adopt technologies that increase energy efficiency as well as adopt renewable energy to curb the issue of climate change. Flooding, heat waves and storms are presently prevalent due to climate change. The imbalance caused by carbon dioxide emissions has wholly altered the state of the environment. It is no longer a theory that two-thirds of the impacts causing an increase in atmospheric temperature and the resultant climate change is anthropogenic activities. There is indeed an urgent need for countries to come together and address the issue of climate change and adopt and implement the 2015 Paris Agreement urgently.
Naudé, W. (2011). Climate change and industrial policy. Sustainability, 3(7), 1003-1021. http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/3/7/1003/htm
Aizebeokhai, A. P. (2009). Global warming and climate change: realities, uncertainties, and measures. International Journal of Physical Sciences, 4(13), 868-879. http://eprints.covenantuniversity.edu.ng/7014/1/Aizebeokhai-globalwarming.pdf
Mgbemene, C. A., Nnaji, C. C., & Nwozor, C. (2016). Industrialization and its Backlash: Focus on Climate Change and its Consequences. Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 9(4), 301. http://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=jest.2016.301.316