By: Mia Safaee
February 27, 2014
Is CO2 The Main Cause of Climate Change?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 1)
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Los Angeles, Ca- Scientist compiled evidence to show the risks of climate change are a serious factor to our planet. As of July 2013, NASA has provided evidence of Carbon dioxide increasing in the atmosphere, since the Industrial Revolution.
People use climate change interchangeably with global warming, though global warming and climate change are closely related they are not the same. This is the reason so many people have a misconception of what is actually happening to our planet.
According to the Department of Ecology website, global warming refers to rising global temperature, while climate change includes other more specific types of changes this can include changes at a global, continental, regional, and local level. Warmer global temperatures in the atmosphere and ocean leads to climate change affecting rainfall patterns, artic ice, frequency, and intensity of storms and drought…
Climate change does not only influence the weather patterns it also has impacts on local plants, animals, and people. A few areas might even get colder rather than warmer, and extreme weather events may occur.
“What matters is this decade is warmer than the last decade and that decade was warmer than the decade before. The planet is warming. The reason it’s warming is because we are pumping increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” said NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt.
The American Chemical Society website, http://www.acs.org, provides information about the atmospheric conditions affected by greenhouse gases has become extreme following the industrial revolution. The ACS gathered data from the past 2000 years showing atmospheric concentrations of Carbon Dioxide-CO2, Methan-CH4, and Nitrous Oxide- N2O, three important contributors to greenhouse gas had increased dramatically since around 1750.
According to the website, scientists noted and found an increase in greenhouse gas concentration attributes largely to human activity since the industrial revolution. There is no doubt that Earth climate changes on its own, but it seems that since humans have inhabited the earth we have had a major impact on our environment. Since the time of the Industrial Revolution, we have found better alternative methods to produce energy and reduce the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Still a majority of the population does not believe in climate change, to my readers I say I will provide the facts and you can make up your own mind. Even if we later find out that climate change is just a theory should not we as humans want to improve on how we use and make our energy.
According to the NASA website, http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence, NASA’s scientist discovered evidence from Ice cores in glaciers drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountains showing that the Earth’s climate has had large changes happen very rapidly in the past. A study done by NASA on atmospheric samples containing ice cores show a dramatic spike in the current CO2 levels since 1950.
Before the 1950s the earths carbon levels in the atmosphere has been contained under 300 parts per million, though still showing a fluctuations in the CO2 levels. Until recently the CO2 levels have spiked increasingly to almost 400 parts per million without showing any fluctuation.
Earth is currently the only home we have. It offers us a great number of ways to produce renewable energy without us having to burn many fossil fuels like coal, and oil. NASA provided evidence showing that by burning fossil fuels the earth’s climate is changing at a more rapid speed that it can handle. The NASA website says, 1,300 independent scientific experts from all over the world under the support of the United Nations; said there is more than a 90 percent probability that human activities over the past 250 years have warmed our planet.
The Journal of Global Climate Change by David D. Houghton, Atmospheric, and Oceanic Sciences references a graph by the National Climate Data Center finding anomalies in our global climate change. The graph shows the climate started rising before the 1920’s although still fluctuating in climate change. After the 1920s’, however the earths’ climate showed less of a variation in fluctuation, but 1985 was the only year that the graph shows the climate being anywhere near the average temperature. After 1985 however, the temperature in our atmospheres shows to be rising, and following into the 2000s’ shows less of a fluctuation.
The National Resource Defense Council Website with the information given from NASA satellite images show that the polar ice cap as a whole is shrinking. This is how most scientists are able to predict climate change. The largest single block of ice in the Arctic, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, had been around for 3,000 years before it started cracking in 2000. Within two years, it had split all the way through and is now breaking into pieces this is one example given by the NRDC. (http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/qthinice.asp)
Not only is this information found harmful to our earth but with this new evidence showing climate change becoming more rapid in the arctic region the home of the polar bears are disappearing. Soon, so will the polar bears due to humanities negligence for our environment. As of May 2008, the Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service website listed the Polar bears as a threaten species, and the United Sates government placed them under their Endangered Species Act.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Carbon dioxide in the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activity. In 2011, it accounted for 84 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. The EPA website http://www.epa.gov/climatechange, estimates that high levels of CO2 can be a potential risk factor in the cause of global warming in 100 years.
Carbon dioxide is a natural part of our planets’ atmosphere. The natural circulation of carbon according to the EPA is in our atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals. Basically all living creatures on earth produce CO2, including humans, but humans are pushing the carbon levels found in nature to extremes by continuously increasing the carbon levels by burning fossil fuels into our atmosphere. The EPA says the increase in CO2 emissions correspond with increased energy use by an expanding economy and population.
The EPA predicts the United States’ carbon emissions will grow by about 1.5% between 2005 and 2020. The most effective way to reduce carbon emissions according to the EPA is to reduce fossil fuel consumption. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration in the 31 states across America there are 65 commercial operating nuclear plants producing about 20 percent of the U.S. electricity each year.
The World Nuclear Association says, most all electricity provide around the world has come from three different forms of power plants: fossil, hydro, and nuclear. Fossil fuel power plants burn carbon fuels such as coal, oil, or gas to generate steam to produce electricity
“These plants can generate electricity reliably over long periods. However, by burning carbon fuels they produce large amounts of carbon dioxide, which causes climate change. They can also produce other pollutants, such as sulfurous oxides, which cause acid rain,” said the WNA Website.
Nuclear power plants however, use the heat produced by nuclear fission to generate energy like in fossil fuel plants. However, in the fission process, there is no production of greenhouse gases, and across the whole cycle produce only a small amount.
“Large hydro or Hydro power plants generate electricity by storing water in vast reservoirs behind massive dams. Water from the dams flows through turbines to generate electricity, and then goes on to flow through rivers below the dam,” said the WNA
Hydro power plants can generate large amounts of electricity according to the WNA website, but there are some down falls to using hydro plants to produce electricity. Dry periods can drain the reservoirs, while rainy season can flood the reservoirs behind the dams. Serious impacts on the ecology around the dams can occur if the flow of the river slows down, and due to the limit of suitable site for new dams, the building of Hydro power plants is also limited.
Still even with all our innovations to produce cleaner renewable energy America still relies on power plants for its major source of electricity, and according to the EIA releases 2,039 metric tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The U.S. Climate Action Report of 2010 states the largest source of U.S. Greenhouse Gas comes from the burning of fossil fuels, mainly coal, which produces 74 percent of carbon emission into the atmosphere.
The report says that emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel consumption increased an average of 1.3 percent from 1990 through 2007. The fundamental factors influencing carbon emissions are economic growth, transportation, and power plants.
“The threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing. Our generation’s response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if, we fail to meet it—boldly, swiftly, and together— we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe,” said President Barack Obama on September 22, 2009 at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change.