Environmental Sciences and Causes of Climate Change
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When asked about climate change, most people only think about the effects of industrialization. However, the process of climate change depends on several other natural processes that form a system of events responsible for the climate change phenomenon. Often, the transportation, urbanization, and pollution effects of socioeconomic developments get a mention when discussions about the causes of climate begin. However, the sun’s constant radiation alongside our relative distance and orientation to the sun contributes to these important changes. While the pollution, transport, and urbanization effects of commerce are the major causes of rapid climate change, the sun’s radiation, earth’s elliptical orbit, and aggressive agricultural activities also contribute to the changes.
Causes of Climate Change
The sun is the most significant cause of climate change based on its size and radiation relative to earth. Before the Industrial Revolution began, the sun had been causing slow but significant changes in the atmosphere resulting in melted ice caps and rapid vegetative growth. Additionally, the combined influence of solar radiation on the oceans and lunar gravitation forces from the moon caused tides that raised the sea levels and climate changes in coastal regions.
While only about 40 percent of the cumulative solar radiation emitted towards earth gets past the atmosphere, it is enough to melt ice caps, raise sea levels, and affect the vegetative life on earth (Cnossen, 2012). Increased vegetative cover affected the planet through increased methane levels and the management of carbon dioxide, and both gases are significant contributors to the greenhouse effect.
Humans also affect climate change in so many different ways.There is seminars to show how the community should conserve the environment to prevent global warming which is a threat to the human race.
Apart from the solar radiation directed towards the earth, the planet’s orbit also affects climate change in a profound manner. For many years, the earth’s orbit has altered from circular to elliptical based on the gravitational dynamics between planets and the sun (Wild, 2012). When the earth’s orbit is perfectly circular, its distance from the sun remains constant, and temperatures on land and sea stabilize, reducing drastic climatic changes.
However, when it is elliptical, the earth comes closer to the sun, increasing its surface temperatures and causing forest fires and warmer climates associated with higher carbon footprints due to vegetative growth and animal life. However, when the planet’s distance from the sun increase, its surface temperature declines thus causing additional ice cover and reduced life survivability which translates to lower incidences of greenhouse gas formation.
Within one and half centuries, human beings have learned to identify, exploit, and use natural and human made resources while dumping any waste back into the natural environment. The industrial Revolution began early in the 1800s in Europe as cottage industries grew into factories attracting urbanization and more significant transport infrastructure. For decades, the growth has led to billions of tones of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, and coal deposits into the air. Such waste materials combine with atmospheric gases, reducing solar radiation’s ability to be reflected out into space (Salzmann et al., 2016).
Consequently, the temperatures of the planet have been rising due to the polluted atmosphere’s reflective nature reducing and leading to accelerated sea-level changes, melting glaciers, increased forest fires, and violent storms in coastal regions. Therefore, the industrial, urbanization and pollution effects of the human race have accelerated climate change significantly.
Large scale agriculture began in the late 1800s to support the Industrial Revolution with raw materials, the large urban centres with food, and a rising global population (Cnossen, 2012). However, modern agriculture also led to an increase in methane in the atmosphere, where it is a significant greenhouse gas. Additionally, agricultural chemicals have polluted water bodies leading to several lakes drying up as cities turn to them for freshwater. Consequently, the ecosystems these dried rivers and lakes supported die off.
Large scale cattle farming intended for beef or even biogas is responsible for methane pockets in the atmosphere that causes increased greenhouse effects. Large scale agriculture has also accelerated the growth of cities and other human settlements due to food security, thus increasing transport and pollution of water bodies. However, the most worrying trend with large scale agriculture in Latin American and Asia is deforestation for palm oil production. The rain forests these regions harbor are the planet’s most critical carbon sinks as these massive jungles filter large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere naturally.
Majority of the public associate climate change to the continued urbanization. The people also associate rapid urbanization blamed for climate change and pollution on industrialization. However, climate change is a process that predates the Industrial Revolution as solar radiation is the main contributor. Continued solar radiation on a dynamic planet causes systemic changes on its surface, especially since the earth’s orbit is not fixed, and its axial inclination changes every 44000 years. However, the Industrial Revolution and subsequent urbanization are responsible for emitting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. Additionally, large-scale agricultural practices release massive amounts of methane into the atmosphere, complementing the greenhouse effect and cutting down the most abundant carbon sinks on the planet, which are rain forests and jungles.
Cnossen, I. (2012). Climate change in the upper atmosphere. Greenhouse Gases – Emission, Measurement and Management. https://doi.org/10.5772/32565
Salzmann, N., Huggel, C., Nussbaumer, S. U., & Ziervogel, G. (2016). Setting the scene: Adapting to climate change – A large-scale challenge with local-scale impacts. Climate Change Adaptation Strategies – An Upstream-downstream Perspective, 3-15. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-40773-9_1
Wild, M. (2012). Solar radiation surface solar radiation versus climate change solar radiation versus climate change. Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology, 9731-9740. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0851-3_448
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