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Global Climate Drivers by City Tech Blogger Mandel Yu

Climate change is a serious threat on Earth because it affects every living thing on the planet. Climate change can cause catastrophic destruction from extreme weather events, rising sea levels and increasing global temperature. These are a few examples that are caused by climate change and if we continue to ignore climate change, it can possibly  lead to extinction of humans. Most scientists would agree that the use of fossil fuels is a major cause of climate change and since many people depend on using it, it will lead to problems. So that means human activities are to blame for climate change. Examples of human activities causing climate change would be burning coal, exhaust gas emissions, deforestation, agricultural and industrial practices. Producing energy by burning coal, oil and natural gases emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We use that energy for transportation, producing electricity, manufacturing and other applications. There are some that deny climate change exists and that humans are the cause of it; they deny that climate change even exists. There shouldn’t be any debates about climate change because there is evidence that shows the effects of climate change. There has been research studies  done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that show the atmosphere and oceans have warmed up with ice melting in the poles causing sea levels to rise. In their research they also show the change in weather for certain places and many places have started to have less colder days and much more hotter days. The increase in hotter days also increased the deaths from heat related conditions by twenty percent.

In the 2013 fifth assessment report, the IPCC stated in their summary for policymakers “extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by human activity”. So by “extremely likely”, they meant that there was a high chance of about 95% to 100% that more than half the global warming was due to humans. Scientists believed that natural climate change that’s associated with volcanoes and solar activity would most likely have resulted in a slight cooling over the past 50 years.


Many natural and human factors influence climate change. The emissions from cars and power plants with the increased amount of radiation the sun emits are examples of “forcing’s”. It increases the temperature, trapping heat and increasing energy that translates into heat. Volcanic activities and some human made pollution both inject sunlight reflecting aerosols into the atmosphere that lowers the temperature. These are examples of forcing’s that decreases in temperature. In a recent study, almost two-thirds of the impacts related to atmospheric and ocean temperature can be confidently attributed to anthropogenic forcing which is human caused drivers. Natural climate drivers are the energy from the sun, aerosols from volcanic eruptions, dust, salt spray. Natural carbon cycle processes are seen in termite mounds in Africa that emit methane, or tiny organisms in the ocean’s surface that take up carbon dioxide and in snow and ice covers that change how much the earth’s surface reflects the sun’s energy back into space, which is also known as the albedo effect. So for natural drives such as a large volcanic eruption that can have a great impact on cooling which tiny particles are shot up high into the stratosphere. We had a few massive volcanic eruptions from Krakatoa, Indonesia in 1883 and Mount Pinatubo, Philippines in 1991, which cooled the Earth for several years. Human climate drivers such as heat trapping emissions from burning coal and gas, deforestation and black carbon pollution or soot all affects the Earth’s albedo. The burning of fossil fuel emits tiny particles and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and some of those particles do reflect sunlight back to space but it causes way more harm than good. The black carbon or soot absorbs sunlight and increases temperature in the atmosphere where the soot particles circulate. Theses human created particles lead to a decrease in the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Earths surface. So if there weren’t any of these human made and natural tiny particles we could’ve had a much warmer climate than it is today. Some of these climate drivers impact climate change and others help with cooling.

Because we know that we cause the climate to change, that knowledge can help us understand why it’s changing and how we can prevent it. We cannot remove all of the carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide that’s trapped in the atmosphere for hundreds of years or more but we can prevent adding more to it until we find a way to completely remove it all. In the Paris Agreement of 2015 it calls for reduction in emissions worldwide to prevent global warming under 2°C and that’s a great start to prevent global warming.


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