The Causes of Global Warming: Natural or Man Made?

Global warming (also referred to as Climate Change) is a complex issue which is difficult to tease out the human and the non-human causes. The precise causes of global warming are not crystal clear; whether humans are the cause, the Earth’s natural cycle or a combination of both is still being examined.

Natural Causes of Global Warming

Paleo-environmental studies show that the Earth has natural cycles of global warming and cooling as shown by the alternations of Glacial Periods (Ice Ages) and Interglacial Periods (warm). For the last 10,000 years, the globe has been in a warm period of an Interglacial.

There are many reasons for this natural cycle including some astronomical events such as changes in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and changes in the rotational axis through time. Some other natural causes of global warming include volcanic eruptions which emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and release of methane gas from arctic tundra and wetlands.

Can human help slow down global warming?

Man Made Causes of Global Warming

However, the problem with the Earth’s current warming is that it has been accelerated beyond the naturally predicted cycles because of carbon-cycle feedbacks introduced by modern human activity. Some of the human behaviors that contribute the most to global warming are the release of greenhouses gasses in the form of pollution into the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, power automobiles, and run household and industrial items releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The increase of global population compounds this issue, especially in developing counties, where more people are using fossil fuels in their everyday.

In addition to humans increasing the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, humans are also decreasing the ability of the planet to self-correct as trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Deforestation and removal of other vegetation to make way for buildings and structures, logging activity, strip-mining, and even for agricultural and ranching purposes is one of the biggest contributors to the negative feedback loop that humans have made in the carbon cycle.

Some of these trees that have been removed have been replanted but at a lower density than before. Sustainable logging is the exception to this process of deforestation since those who practice sustainable logging replant trees in at least the same density as those they removed. As such, they keep a healthy stock of trees available and replant and continue the lifecycle once they harvest.

The human causes of global warming far outweighs the natural contributors, especially since without the widespread threat of deforestation the naturally occurring carbon dioxide was able to be removed through natural plant processes -KATHY FAIRCHILD

Leave a Comment