Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Causes of Global Warming

As the name suggests, global warming is basically rise in overall temperature of the planet. This temperature rise may be attributed to several reasons, ranging from natural factors, such as volcanoes and methane release from the wetlands, to human activities, such as mining and deforestation. The discussion regarding the causes of global warming has become more prominent, and the issue is being debated since a long time. Environmentalists blame it on anthropogenic activities (human activities), while global warming skeptics argue that the amount of warming caused by natural factors far exceeds human-induced global warming.

What is Global Warming?

Technically, global warming is the significant rise in overall average temperature of near-surface air on the Earth. This is generally caused as a result of sunlight being trapped by various greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are either released by human activities or through natural components of the planet. According to the studies conducted by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the average global temperature of the planet has increased by 1 degree Fahrenheit over the last century. Read more onwhat is global warming.

What Causes Global Warming?

This question has been resting on the debating table, without any consensus, since a long time. Some argue that the natural causes are responsible for the rise in temperature, while some feel that human activities are actually causing global warming and the drastic climate changeassociated with it. It can't be a coincidence that the rate at which the global temperatures increased, accelerated with the beginning of industrial revolution. Let's have a brief look at the anthropogenic as well as natural causes of global warming.

You may also like to go through:Anthropogenic Causes of Global Warming
The list of anthropogenic causes of global warming is extensively long, and hence difficult to compile. Below mentioned are some of the major human activities which contribute to global warming.
  • Pollution: Undoubtedly the major cause of global warming, pollution is depleting the environment to a great extent. Although there are various types of pollution which harm the environment, the two major types which are directly associated with global warming are industrial pollution and vehicle pollution. Burning of fossil fuels to generate power leads to release of various harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, in the atmosphere. These gases in turn trap the sunlight and cause the global temperatures to rise. Read more on fossil fuels and global warming.
  • Mining: Large stores of methane exist beneath the surface of the Earth. When the Earth is dug for mining activities, this methane gas is released in the atmosphere. With a lifetime of 72 years, methane can cause some serious damage to the atmosphere.
  • Cattle Rearing: Although large stores of methane do exist beneath the Earth surface, significant amount of methane is also released by cattle in form of manure. Cattle rearing is an important component of agriculture, which proves that agricultural activities do contribute to global warming.
  • Deforestation: As we all know, trees are designed to absorb carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere and give out oxygen. Excessive deforestation by humans is depleting the number of trees. As a result of this, the amount of carbon dioxide in atmosphere remains static and contributes to global warming. Read more on global warming and deforestation.
  • Population: One of the major anthropogenic causes of global warming is increasing population. The amount of carbon dioxide we release while breathing is by no means negligible. And with rising population, this amount of CO2 is bound to continue to soar.
Natural Causes of Global Warming
As far as the natural global warming causes are concerned, the prominent ones include volcanic eruptions, methane release by wetlands and solar variations.
  • Methane Release: One of the most prominent natural factors affecting the global temperatures is release of methane gas in copious amounts from Arctic tundra and wetlands. Methane being a greenhouse gas has the propensity to trap the sunlight, thus making the planet warmer. Read more on methane global warming potential.
  • Solar Variations: While orbiting the Sun, the Earth changes the angle at which it tilts over a period of time. As a result of this the amount of sunlight received by the planet variates. At times, it is high enough to cause a significant temperature rise in the atmosphere of the Earth.
  • Volcanic Eruptions: A single large volcanic eruption can increase or decrease the temperature of the Earth to a great extent. In case of global warming, volcanic eruptions contribute by releasing enormous amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Although, these natural causes of global warming do exist, they are not as abundant as the anthropogenic causes. For instance, the amount of carbon dioxide released by a single volcanic eruption may be enormous, but these eruptions are not so frequent. On the other hand, the amount of carbon dioxide released by industries and vehicles daily, may seem to be less, but it easily exceeds the amount released by volcanic eruptions. More importantly, natural causes of global warming are important, owing to the fact that their absence would have meant that the average temperature of the planet would have been much more colder. Perhaps then, the climate would have been unsuitable for human inhabitation or any other life forms. Read more on global warming causes and effects.

You may also prefer to read more on:These were some of the most prominent causes of global warming, which are slowly causing the temperature to rise. A look at global warming facts is bound to make anybody realize what a grave situation we are heading for. We are losing time, and the differences between the developed and developing nations are nowhere close to be resolved. In such circumstances, the need of the hour is to put in efforts at an individual level. Global warming solutions at individual levels may not solve the entire problem, but they can at least help in slowing down the rate at which we are heading for the disaster.