Sample Geology Essay Paper on Whether Global Warming is Caused by Humans

Is Global Warming Caused by Humans?

Global warming, also referred to as climate change, is the present rise in temperature of the Earth’s surface and its atmosphere. Averagely, the temperature in the world has increased by over 1.4°F (0.8°C) in than 100 years (National Research Council 3). Much of the increase has happened over the past 35 years. The years 2001 and 2016 are regarded as the warmest years ever. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that warms the Earth. Humans are responsible for doubling CO2, which increases the global temperature by at least 1.8 degrees Celsius (Horner 66). Scientists’ analyses indicate that the rise in temperature is caused by human activities, such as the burn of coal and other fossil fuels for heat and the elimination of forested lands for urban growth that have increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Previously, natural factors caused high temperature on the Earth, but currently, it results from the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere generated by human activities.

Several occurrences point to the changing temperatures. Foremost, frequent heat waves, as well as shorter and minor cold breaks, signify increased warming. Also, reduced snow and ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere, melting glaciers and ice tops in the world, and migration of several plants and animal species to cooler latitudes of higher latitudes implies an conducive environment resulting from high warming rates (National Research Council 4).

Figure 1: Temperature Anomaly (National Research Council 3) file:///C:/Users/edu/Desktop/global%2011.pdf

It is difficult to determine the human impact on greenhouse gas concentrations because many greenhouse gases occur naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere. CO2 is generated and consumed in several natural procedures, which are part of the carbon cycle. Nevertheless, when people start to dig up kinds of carbon that were buried a long time ago, for example, coal and oil and burn them for energy, more CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere faster than in the natural carbon cycle. Currently, atmospheric CO2 concentrations are over 390 parts per million, about 40% higher than pre-industrial levels (National Research Council 7).

 Human activities have increased the atmospheric absorptions of other significant greenhouse gases. For example, methane, which is generated from the burning of fossil fuels, the rearing of domestic animals, deterioration of landfill wastes, generation and transport of natural gas, as well as other activities, raised dramatically through the 1980s before leveling off. Nitrous oxide has increased by about 15% because of utilization of agricultural fertilizer as well as fossil fuel burning and some industrial procedures (National Research Council 8). Moreover, some industrial chemicals, for instance, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) function as strong greenhouse gases and stay longer in the atmosphere than otheers. Since CFCs do not occur naturally, their rise is associated with human activities (Trenberth et al.14). Moreover, deforestation, small pollution atoms (aerosols), and soot affect the climate. Soot absorbs sunlight and raises the temperature, resulting in local warming of the atmosphere level where the soot molecules spread. Besides emitting CO2, fossil fuel burn releases small elements in the atmosphere, which reflect sunlight back to space, causing a cooling effect (Global Environmental Concepts 189). Others drivers include heat-trapping discharges from cars.

Figure 2 Carbon Cycle (National Research Council 6) file:///C:/Users/edu/Desktop/global%2011.pdf

Global warming is not only caused by human activities but also natural factors. Higher radiation from the sun raises the temperature by trapping heat and increasing energy, which is converted into heat.  Moreover, volcanic incidents instill sunlight reflecting aerosols into the atmosphere and leads to a low temperature by discharging small elements high into the stratosphere. Natural carbon cycle procedures, such as termite mounds in Africa release methane. Besides, alterations in snow and ice cover modify the part of the earth’s surface that reflects the Sun’s energy back into space (Horner 68).

It is possible that more warming could still have happened in the past years regardless of the presence of human-made and natural microscopic elements. Warming could be attributed to the Sun; however, the quantity of energy generated by the Sun does not change much, in a few centuries. Without discharges from burning coal and oil, only two warmest years in history would have been witnessed out of the present 15. Humans have highly contributed to the current unprecedented warming (Juliet).

It is difficult to prove that natural factors have not caused the current warming because the climate is a multifaceted system. According to thermodynamics, the warming of the Earth’s lower atmosphere must be as a result of several procedures that distributes extra heat to the lower atmosphere. Apart from the greenhouse effect, the available procedures include high yield from the sun, increased absorption of heat from the sun because of variation in the Earth’s terrestrial reflectivity, as well as an internal change in the climate system, which moves heat from an Earth’s section to the atmosphere. Direct monitoring proves that no fact justifies the warming that has been experienced for a long period. For instance, no significant variation in solar output has been witnessed in more than two decades ago.

Comparison of climate patterns detected by Meteorologists and oceanographers and those established through complex standards of the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean reveal human fingerprints linked to the variations, and they can also relate the quantity of the changes to human undertakings. Humans’ fingerprints on the Earth’s climate are manifested in different ways and are visible in the ocean, atmosphere, as well as the Earth’s surface. Scientifically, it is evident that the current warming is mainly caused by humans’ generation of excess carbon in the atmosphere, for example, preferring to obtain and burn coal, oil, and gas, or reducing and burning forests. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and that stuck in ice is very high, and such rates are higher compared to what has been experienced in many years ago.

Warming and cooling have been witnessed earlier even before the existence of humans. Several factors can affect the Earth’s climate, for example, variation in the Sun’s strength as well as volcanic outbreaks and atmospheric heat-trapping gases. There various possible solutions to global warming.

Measures are set to minimize the amount of carbon dioxide that accrues in the atmosphere. The first strategy is decreasing the primary need for goods and services that require energy by expanding education and incentive plans to impact consumer behavior and choices and curbing extensive growth trends that increase individuals’ reliance on petroleum. Secondly, the effectiveness with which energy is utilized should be enhanced, for instance, through employing more efficient techniques for insulating, warming, chilling, and illuminating buildings; improving industrial tools and procedures to consume less energy, and urging people to buy efficient home appliances and automobiles (National Research Council 33). Thirdly, the utilization of low-and zero-carbon energy should be extended by changing from coal and oil to natural gas, expanding the utilization of nuclear power and renewable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass, and trapping and removing CO2 from power plants and factories. Fourthly, CO2 should be taken and confiscated directly from the atmosphere by controlling forests and soils to enhance carbon uptake. Moreover, mechanical techniques of directly scrubbing CO2 should be created from ambient air (National Research Council 33).

Developing such measures to minimize emissions depends highly on private sector investments as well as the behavioral and client preferences in every household. Therefore, governments at federal, state, and local levels need to influence these major stakeholders’ through successful guidelines and inducements. The major tool chests whereby guidelines for compelling emission reductions are selected include pricing emissions, for example, through carbon tariff or cap-and-trade system, and guidelines that could include direct controls on emitters, for instance, through the Clean Air Act and directives like automobile fuel economy standards. Others include public grants for emission-minimizing options through the tax code, seizures, or loan guarantees, offering information and training, and supporting voluntary measures to reduce emissions (National Research Council 33).

The 2015 Paris Agreement requires all nations to minimize emissions to ensure global warming is below the hazardous level of 2°C. This process can be attained by immediate and continuous measures of minimizing heat-trapping releases, such as implementing technologies that enhance less energy consumption, extending the utilization of renewable energy, and minimizing deforestation.

Figure 3 Deforestation (National Research Council 9) file:///C:/Users/edu/Desktop/global%2011.pdf


Human activities cause global warming, which has a negative impact on the atmosphere. Since global warming includes everything from acid rain to urban pollution to rainforest damage, the ability to manage it will concurrently address several other environmental and climate challenges. Nevertheless, if humanity, with the guidance of the international diplomatic community, is unable to rise to the challenge, such difficulties can accumulate until they overwhelm the atmosphere.

Works Cited

“Global Environmental Concepts.” Vietnam Country Review, July 2013, pp. 189-207.

Horner, Christopher C. The politically incorrect guide to global warming and environmentalism. Regnery Publishing, 2007.

Juliet, Eilperin. “Palin, Mccain Disagree on Causes of Global Warming.” Washington Post, the, n.d.

National Research Council. Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices: Set of 2 Booklets, with DVD. National Academies Press, 2012.

Trenberth, Kevin E., et al. Effects of changing climate on weather and human activities. No. Folleto 83. Sausalito, CA: University Science Books, 2000.