The Science of Climate Change, and the Anthropogenic Role

Climate change is going to be the most crucial scientific issue to be addressed in the twenty-first century. There is global concurrence that the climate of the earth has been rising for the past century and will rise even more quickly if stringent and timely actions are not taken. Much of it is due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other harmful compounds. For the first time in centuries, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached above 400 ppm. This is the major cause of global warming and climate change. There is compelling evidence for rapid climate change. Global temperature rise, shrinking ice sheets, declining Arctic sea ice, glacial retreat, sea level rise, warming oceans, ocean acidification, extreme events, and decreased snow cover are all compelling evidences telling us unequivocally that the climate of the Earth is warming. Majority of this warming takes place in the ocean. The temperature of the oceans is at an all time high for the past fifty years and even if the emissions are brought to zero, the oceans will keep getting warmer as they absorb slowly the extra warmth of the atmosphere. Marine ecosystems are under a serious threat under this changing environment. The increase in the frequency of extreme events is an undeniable evidence of climate change. Increase in the frequency of tropical storms, erratic monsoon patterns and droughts, all point towards a lack of equilibrium in the climate. The single largest threat to the climate of the planet in the time to come will be the build-up of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The issue is being addressed by reducing the carbon footprint through decreased consumption and better technology. But unabated human population growth is overwhelming these efforts, leading to the conclusion that not only do we need smaller footprints, but also fewer feet. Forests are vital for the resource that they are and those which they provide. Most importantly, forests play a key role in the carbon cycle of the planet, recycling the carbon dioxide. Deforestation not only releases the carbon dioxide stored, but also puts an end to the carbon absorption, thus contributing majorly to climate change. Unrestrained burning of fossil fuels releases the key greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. The second major greenhouse gas is methane, released from agricultural activities, biomass combustion and inefficient waste management. Nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases and chlorofluorocarbons are all released by anthropogenic activities and are much more potent greenhouse agents. Besides the emissions of greenhouse gases from energy, agricultural, industrial and other activities, humans also affect climate through changes in land use and land cover. Deforestation and extensive animal and crop farming are the aforesaid changes in land use that contribute to climate change.

  • Palaeoclimatology
  • Greenhouse effect and Global Warming
  • Principal reasons for change in global climate
  • Repercussions of Climate change
  • Impact of Climate Change on Marine Environment
  • Climate Change and Extreme Weather and Climate Patterns
  • Planetary Dynamics in Climate Change
  • Human Overpopulation and Deforestation

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