New Research Reveals Rapid Climate Change is Human-Induced
According to the US National Academy of Sciences, humans are
drastically changing the Earth’s climate. This theory is based on
several factors, such as the sun’s lack of variations in recent
decades. The sun, which
is the primary source of energy driving the Earth’s climate system,
has shown no increase in output while the Earth’s global surface
temperature is believed to have increased. Various reports claim
that this proves the sun’s lack of involvement in recent climate
Climate changes, including natural ones, are disruptive. In the past
they’ve led to the extinction of many species, population
migrations, and pronounced changes in the land surface and ocean
circulation. A well-known example of this is the ice age. Current
climate change may be accelerating faster than most of the past
events, making adaption more difficult for human societies and the
natural world. The scientists point to the American Pika, which are
native to cold alpine conditions but are believed to be dying from
The report states that human activities have significantly disturbed
the natural carbon cycle in many ways. The US National Academy of
Sciences notes, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution,
the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) has released carbon
dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. A substantial portion
of this CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, where some of
it will remain for thousands of years. CO2 is important
gas for controlling Earth’s temperature and it needs to maintain
greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane and halocarbons - Earth
would be frozen at zero degrees Fahrenheit. But with too many
greenhouse gases, Earth could ultimately become like the planet
Venus, where the greenhouse atmosphere keeps temperatures around
seven hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit.
The Academy of Sciences also indicates that human-induced
deforestation is possibly a very significant contributor to climate
change. Fewer trees reduce the amount of photosynthesis, a process
in which plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store
it internally. Experts suggest the "slash and burn" technique is
commonly used to clear forests. This in turn releases CO2
that had been stored in the plants into the atmosphere. Increasing
the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is just one effect of
deforestation on climate change. Permanent destruction of forests
can also change the amount of energy from the sun that is reflected
by the Earth’s surface. It could change the amount of water vapor
released into the atmosphere. This accumulation of atmospheric water
vapor can trap additional heat and further increase temperatures.
Upon further analysis, scientists believe these factors have
a regional effect on temperature.
Due to natural causes, the warming rate of the Earth has varied from
time to time and place to place. Researchers believe short-term
variations like these are expected and are not responsible for the
long-term warming trend. The report indicates the long-term trend is
primarily due to human-induced changes in the atmospheric levels of
CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Human factors can affect
warming from decade to decade with variations in emissions as
different practices come and go. The study states that the human
factors begin with the Industrial Revolution’s coal-fueled power
plants and varied over the years to include other greenhouse gases,
aerosols (which can have both warming and cooling effects), vapor
trails from planes, soot from fires and components of smog created
indirectly by local pollution. While all these factors tend to
increase warming, the Academy of Sciences admits that aerosol
particles produced by some vehicles and industrial processes tend to
bounce sunlight away from the Earth, temporarily counteracting some
of the warming caused by greenhouse gases. Studies show human
activities have emitted greenhouse gases in the Earth’s lower
atmosphere which have also created the potential for more storms and
certain severe weather events as it becomes warmer and damper.
The study suggests global warming is a long-term trend, but that
does not mean that every year will be warmer than the previous one.
Day to day, and year to year, changes in weather patterns will
continue to produce some unusually cold days and nights, and winters
and summers, even as the climate warms.
Scientists are confident that Earth will warm further over the
coming century. The impact of this warming could threaten food
production, freshwater supplies, coastal infrastructure, and
especially the population currently living in low-lying areas as
water levels rise. Scholars conclude, even if emissions of
greenhouse gases were to suddenly stop, Earth’s surface temperature
would not cool and return to the pre-industrial era level for
thousands of years.
The report concludes that climate change is inevitable, but if
greenhouse gas emissions continue as they are, future changes will
substantially exceed those that have occurred so far. This will be
perilous to all life on Earth, making the need for change now
extremely dire. There are conflicting theories regarding the cause
of the Earth’s rapid climate change. Continue reading for another
point of view.
Climate Change Influenced by Natural Solar Cycle and Sun Spots
The following information has been collected from Scientist
American’s article “The Role of Sunspots and Solar Winds in Climate
Change.” Some scientists believe the surface of the sun is going
blank, a phenomenon which scientists describe as a natural event in
the sun’s current solar cycle. These solar cycles last for 11 years,
and see both increases and decreases in sunspots. Appearing as solar
flares and dark blemishes, sunspots are darker, cooler areas with
magnetic storms on the surface of the sun. The article states that
the greatest number of sunspots in any given solar cycle is
designated as “solar maximum.” The lowest number is called “solar
minimum,” which describes the current state of the sun. This means
that normally the surface of the sun looks blotchy and freckled
compared to its current appearance which scientists have likened to
a cue ball.
But what does this mean for Earth’s climate? Southwestern Law School
professor Joerg Knipprath is still trying to determine the answer.
Knipprath states, “Solar flares, which are linked to sunspots,
consist of strong x-ray flashes and light energy. These flares shoot
off into space at the speed of light from the surface of the sun.”
Solar wind, according to NASA, consists of solar flares which
influence galactic rays. It is believed that these rays may affect
atmospheric phenomena on Earth such as cloud cover. In addition, a
previous solar minimum which took place in the 1600s and 1700s was
marked by cold temperatures and severe winters in Europe and North
America. Scientists have deliberated that a decrease in the sun's
ultraviolet emissions may have triggered the change in climate.
However, this is just speculation, as it hasn’t been firmly proven
that the two phenomena were actually related.
In contrast to the current lack of sunspots, some studies indicate
that overall sunspot activity has doubled in the last century. The
visible result of this being the sun glowing brighter (by about 0.1
percent) than it did 100 years ago. Those who are skeptics of
human-induced climate change claim that these natural variations in
the sun’s output are to blame for global warming. Experts explain
that it is not a coincidence that sunspot activity increases along
with global temperatures.
These skeptics further warn that regulation of carbon
emissions would negatively affect our economy and what they describe
as a “tried-and-true” energy infrastructure.
How can scientists formally conclude which theory is the highest
contributing factor to climate change?
Only the absence, or extreme reduction, of carbon emissions
would allow researchers to conclusively tell how much impact natural
influences have on the Earth’s climate. However, obtaining and
enforcing the regulations needed to test these theories would be a
difficult task in itself. For now, this leaves the conclusion to
this debate unresolved.