Imagine most of our planet’s current land mass starts to get submerged under a rising level of seawater; imagine a planet where no one can barely walk under the sun; a planet where there is not enough oxygen to support life; or imagine a situation where a large number of humans and wildlife are decimated due to drought and famine. Imagining these kinds of a catastrophic scenario is difficult to bear, let alone experiencing it. Climate change is one of those phenomena which could realize such kinds of catastrophes if not prevented now. Of course, like any other issue, there are people who wouldn’t agree with the notion that mankind is the driver of climate change. However, looking throughout the evolution of human activities across a variety of sectors, mainly since the last two centuries, it will be nothing short of ignorance to deny the role of human beings as the main contributor towards climate change. Hence, I firmly believe that human beings are the main perpetrators behind this every growing phenomenon of climate change, and to eradicate it, drastic measures need to be taken by human beings themselves before it is too late.
To start with, there are people who clearly disagree with the idea that global climate change is caused by humans. “In October 2018, President Trump accused climate change scientists of having a political agenda, telling Fox News he was unconvinced that humans were responsible for the earth’s rising temperature”. (BBC, 2018). According to Procon.org, more than one thousand scientists believe that human beings are not responsible for global climate change and the earth’s climate has often undergone periods of fluctuation in its temperature, ranging between too hot and too cold temperatures. (Procon.org, 2019). However, I firmly disagree with such a claim. There might have been periodical variation in the global temperature throughout history, however, the changes during the last two centuries indicate an unprecedentedly sharp rise in the average global temperature. It doesn’t come as a surprise that human beings’ activities have also drastically risen within the same period, such as the period when the industrial revolution ushered in, resulting in a significant rise of both land and air pollutants. Moreover, most humans, despite knowing the ramifications of their actions, tend to be unaccountable toward their responsibilities about climate change in recent years. For example, people instead of using less energy consume more and more which simply clears the way for the greenhouse gases to permeate into the atmosphere. “These activities like the combustion of fossil fuels alter the radiative balance of the earth either by changing its atmospheric composition so as to enhance the natural greenhouse effect, or by changing the reflectivity of the earth’s surface or atmosphere”. (Parliament of Australia, 15 November, 2010). Furthermore, if the rise in earth’s temperature continues, it will bring forward lethal consequences. For instance, it can cause the surface of the planet to become warmer to an extent which could lead to the death of millions of humans and wildlife. According to an article by National Geographic, there has been a massive decrease in the population of fishes and penguins in Antarctica, and this climate change can lower the quality of penguin nesting sites. (Aaron Sidder, 2016).
Moreover, “Major fossil fuel companies have known for decades that their products, oil, natural gas, and coal cause climate change. Their own scientists told them so more than 30 years ago. In response, they decided to deceive shareholders, politicians, and the public about the facts and risks of global climate change”. (Union of concerned scientists, 2015). Saying that the sea levels have been progressively rising for many years, and it has nothing to do with human activity. I may agree that the sea levels have been rising for quite long, though, I firmly believe that the main contributors are human. “Sea level rise in the 20th century was mostly manmade”. (The Guardian, 2016). When the temperature in earth’s surface increases due to numerous reasons that I have discussed and will be further discussing throughout my essay, global warming happens and according to an article by the Guardian magazine, it results in meltdown of large masses of ice in earth’s south and north poles especially in the Arctic. (John Abraham, 2018). Furthermore, when these glaciers are melted, sea levels will start to rise to an extreme degree. There were predictions that if the rise in sea level continues at current speed, most of the earth’s current land masses will be submerged. Thus, according to an article by National Geographic, sea level rise and an increase in climate change run parallel, and human activities could have a similar contributing role towards its prevalence. (National Geographic, 2019).
The last argument advanced by the opponent regarding global climate change is that “human-produced CO2 is re-absorbed by oceans, forests, and other carbon sinks, negating any climate changes”. (Course hero, and according to a study published in the Asia-pacific journal, 2011). I do agree with them that forests and oceans play a great role in reducing carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere; however, like everything else, their capacity is limited. For example, if emissions of such gases exceed the absorbing capacity of forests and oceans, according to Science direct, the presence of such natural absorbents (trees, forests, grasslands and oceans) in earth might not be enough to tackle the issue and prevent climate change from showcasing its catastrophic impact, but it helps to absorb the emissions of greenhouse gases significantly. (Ravi Jain and M. Diana Webb, 2012).
We must never ignore the fact that global climate change is caused by humans. According to the Guardian magazine, the combustion of fossil fuels by humans is one of the main and important factors of global climate change, which leads to the emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (The Guardian, 2011). Humans burn fossil fuels for many different purposes, such as heating, cooking, transporting and many more. In most developing countries people cannot afford to switch to the alternatives of fossil fuel, because “they are desperately poor, and many cook and heat their homes using open fires or leaky stoves that burn dirty fuels like wood, dung, crop waste, and coal”. (Bjorn Lomborg, the New York Times, 2013). For example, in a developing country where there are 100 poor villages, in each village, approximately 200 families live and if each family burns fossil fuels be it for heating or cooking, then it could extremely contribute to the air pollution and thus climate change. “Greenhouse gases from human activities are the most significant driver of observed climate change since the mid-20th century”. (The United States environmental protection agency, 2017). The increase in earth’s temperature is correlated to the vast rising of carbon dioxide emissions. “In total, the United States pumped more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other nation between 1850 and 2014, the latest year for which the center’s data is available. The European Union, including Britain, was the second-largest source of fossil-fuel emissions over that period; China came in third”. (Lisa Friedman, Nadja Popovich, and Henry Fountain, the New York Times, 2018). According to an article by the Guardian, the extinction rebellion (XR), a movement by thousands of civilians that blocked the roads in the UK for one week and their aim is to grab the attention of national and international entities toward climate change and make them reveal the realities and facts behind the carbon emissions leading to a global climate change. This act did not only happen in the UK, but it happened in the US, Canada, Australia, Sweden and so on. “Then there was Friday for future, the global school strike movement started by 16-year- old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. From one young woman striking over climate change just nine months ago, the school strike movement has grown to a point where last month young people led 150,000 Australians and 1.4 million people globally in one of the biggest days of climate action”. (Nicky Ison, the Guardian, 2017). These carbon emissions and concentrations in the air could cause various severe problems to mankind, the most perilous of which is global warming. Therefore, the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of global climate change.
In addition to emissions from greenhouse gases, humans affect global climate change through changes in land use as well. Land use basically refers to activities which take place on land, for example, growing food, cutting trees, and constructing homes. In addition, one change in a land made by humans is transforming the land from forests to agricultural farms in order to grow crops and provide food. Forests are cleared and trees cut down either to yield wood for making furniture or to make way for residential and industrial areas, which is an eminent sign of deforestation. “For thousands of years humans have been deforesting small areas of woodland to build their own houses or grow crops to feed their families”. (BBC, 2019). Furthermore, in some countries governments clear forests and cut the trees in order to build connecting roads to other routes and in order to construct new buildings. “Brazil led the world in terms of total deforested area between 1990 and 2005. The country lost 42,330,000 hectares of forest, roughly the size of California and the other top five tropical countries with the greatest total area of deforestation were Indonesia, Sudan, Myanmar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo”. (NASA earth observatory, 2007). Forests store massive amounts of carbon and instead provide oxygen and release it to the air. Additionally forests fundamentally remove carbon dioxide from the air and avoid it from being absorbed into the atmosphere. Besides, deforestation could have negative possible outcomes for the ecosystem. According to BBC News, a significant number of animals, plants, and fungi are disappearing at an alarming rate due to the disastrous effects of deforestation. (Helen Briggs, Becky Dale, and Nassos Stylianou, 2019). “Around 12 million hectares of forest in the world’s tropical regions were lost in 2018, equivalent to 30 football fields per minute”. (Matt McGrath, BBC News, 2019). From the aforementioned facts and figures, it gets easier to understand that changes in the land usage brought by humans have also paved the way for global climate change.
Lastly, despite the aforesaid arguments about humans causing global climate change, overpopulation is another main factor contributing to climate change. Overpopulation takes place when birth rate exceeds the death rate. Overpopulation happens either intentionally or unintentionally; for instance, in some Asian developing countries due to poverty, families are in need of breadwinners in order to provide food for their families, which is why they give birth to more children resulting in overpopulation. For example, “a young Afghan girl named Parvana who cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy so as to earn money for her family after the Taliban imprisoned her father”. (Tolo news, 2017). Moreover, an example of unintentional reproduction is those in developing countries where people are not aware of proper family planning. When the overall population of the world becomes larger more resources are being used and more wastes are generated. In addition, when more resources are used, more energy will be consumed and as a result of it, more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will be released to the atmosphere, which will highly affect the climate. According to an article by Guardian magazine, the greatest contribution humans can have is to have fewer children, as the most recent study illustrates it is the most significant that people could cut carbon emissions globally. (Damian Carrington, 2017). Lastly, if overpopulation is not deeply considered it will have severe consequences on promoting global climate change.
To sum it up, it can be concluded that humans are the sole cause of global climate change because humans are the ones, who burn fossil fuels, cut the trees and clear forests leading to deforestation, and humans cause overpopulation by giving birth to more children. From the aforementioned facts and information, one could easily understand the intense level of global climate change caused by humans.
- (Lisa Friedman, Nadja Popovich and Henry Fountain, Who is most responsible for global warming, the New York Times, 2018) (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/26/climate/countries-responsible-global-warming.html?searchResultPosition=2) (Accessed on 29th April/2019)
- (Matt McGrath, Deforestation: Tropical tree losses persist at high levels, BBC News, 2019)
- (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48037913) (Accessed on 30th April/2019)
- ((Damian Carrington, Want to fight climate change? Have fewer children, The Guardian, 2017) (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/12/want-to-fight-climate-change-have-fewer-children) (accessed on 30th April/2019)
- (Nicky Ison, After Extinction Rebellion, Australian politicians are on notice change is coming, the Guardian, 2019) (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/02/after-extinction-rebellion-australian-politicians-are-on-notice-change-is-coming) (accessed on 6th May/2019)