Looking through the window of a spacecraft or looking out a bedroom window to the backyard, upon the eyes of the human race is bestowed the wondrous glory and breathtaking beauty of planet Earth. From the blue whale, the largest animal ever to exist on the planet, to the minuscule molecules of oxygen transpiring from the leaves of trees, Earth contains a truly special and rare gift: life.
However, the news is quickly spreading that the miracle of Earth is in danger due to climate change. It is well known to people that climate change is a large issue in today’s society, but what is truly driving this change of the Earth for the worse?
The majority of the threats of climate change reside in global warming, or the gradual increase in average atmospheric temperatures. While there are some environmental and natural processes such as volcano eruptions contributing to global warming, these factors pale in comparison to the true driving force behind climate change: humans.
As human populations have grown exponentially and as the industrial revolution has come to pass, global temperatures have skyrocketed at rates that were previously unfeasible. Dr. Jonathan Foley, through research, has determined that the leading forces driving global warming have been the use of fossil fuels as well as land use for agriculture.
The Industrial Revolution jump-started the growth of urban areas and cities including factories that burned fuels such as coal, releasing huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. This substance is a greenhouse gas, which means that once in the atmosphere, it takes part in the greenhouse effect of Earth. This atmospheric process utilizes gasses to prevent heat from being easily released from the atmosphere and thus raising Earth’s temperature.
The rapidly growing population also calls for huge amounts of automobile gas- another fossil fuel. As the gas that machines use to run is burned, more greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere, mainly in the form of CO2. Additionally, growing human populations require more food, which calls for more land dedicated to agriculture.
A huge contributor to global warming that many people don’t realize is the production of livestock meats, livestock feed, and crops. Livestock such as cows produce large amounts of methane, another greenhouse gas. Finally, as fertilizer is used in large amounts to produce crops for livestock and the human population, greenhouse gasses such as Nitrous Oxide are released from these chemicals.
From any perspective, it can be clearly seen that the massive population of humans on the Earth is driving climate change through the production of greenhouse gasses in agricultural practices as well as the use of fossil fuels. Becoming aware of what global warming is and what it is caused by can help people to take appropriate actions to reverse these negative effects on the glorious planet of Earth.