Global Warming is Caused by Humans


Photo by Chris LeBoutillier on Unsplash

Theresa Kabasela, Staff Writer

Climate change is the term used to describe the change in global or regional climate patterns, typically the temperature. According to the National Geographic Resource Library, “climate change refers specifically to the rise in global temperatures from the mid-20th century to the present.” These shifts in climate are natural; however, since the 19th century, human activity has been identified as the main cause of global warming, mainly due to burning fossil fuels like coal and oil. If we don’t take action now to eliminate the effects that climate change has on our world and, by association, society, we may cease to have one at all.

In Lydia Saad’s piece “Global Warming Attitudes Frozen Since 2016” she reports on a Gallup poll statistic that states “about six in ten U.S. adults (59%) continue to say the effects of global warming have already begun to happen, and a similar proportion believe pollution from human activities is more to blame than natural causes for the earth’s rise in temperature over the past century (64%). Perhaps more importantly, though, Saad reports that “fewer Americans, closer to four in ten, are highly worried about global warming (43%), although another 22% say they worry ‘a fair amount.’”

The good news is people are aware of the damage humans have caused to the earth’s climate and that they acknowledge the responsibility that we have in regard to addressing climate change. The bad news on this front, according to Saad, is that while climate change is progressing, people’s attitudes on it are not keeping pace. 

There are too many things that humans do that affect the environment negatively. One example is deforestation. When deforestation occurs, trees are cut and carbon dioxide is released into the environment. This is key because trees absorb carbon dioxide; and when the trees are absent in this natural process, emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses increases and are released into the atmosphere. Deforestation also threatens the biodiversity found in forests. The burning or logging of trees – the two primary ways that deforestation occurs – continues to fuel the extinction of animals, plants, and other organisms. One of the most important aspects of these losses is with plants as these often help with human medicine and the decrease gas buildup in the environment.  We can not address climate change without significantly reducing deforestation, which is why the government should enforce rules and regulations regarding the felling of trees, ban clear-cutting of forests, and reduce the consumption of paper. 

Another attribute that causes climate change is the use of fossil fuels. Humans use fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas to generate electricity. Therefore, it can be inferred that the fossil fuel industries are working against addressing climate change. It would be fair to say that these fossil fuel industries believe the short-term profit and personal gain that comes from producing fossil fuels outweighs losing the earth as a civilization completely. However, all hope is not lost. Vignesh Gowrishankar and Amanda Levin of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report on an NRDC study finding that fossil fuel emissions can be cut down by 80% by 2050 if we expand the use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. 

This is why the world must take accountability and reduce – and eventually eliminate – the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are readily available for public use and the high demand for fossil fuels in countries such as Russia and the United States has been an obstacle to implementing the use of renewable sources of energy. Millions of people worldwide depend on fossil fuels in order to complete everyday activities, such as driving their car to work. Using fossil fuels has allowed for rapid growth in agriculture, industrial processes, and transportation. Fossil fuels are an important source of energy throughout the world, so it is likely that they won’t be eliminated completely. However, if some things that don’t require fossil fuels were replaced with renewable energy sources, I believe that greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants harming our earth can diminish more quickly. It would be ill-advised to not execute these proposals for improving climate change. 

The bottom line is that humans are at fault for the destruction of the earth’s natural state. Profit, monetary and personal comfort, and personal gain seem to be more valuable than living in a clean, efficient world. We must take accountability for our actions and take measures to significantly reduce climate change by implementing renewable resources if we wish to live sustainably.