By burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, and raising animals, humans have a growing impact on the climate and temperature of the planet.
This increases the greenhouse effect and global warming by adding large quantities of greenhouse gases to those already present in the atmosphere.
The greenhouse effect is the primary driver of climate change. Some gases in the Earth’s atmosphere operate similarly to the glass of a greenhouse, preventing the sun’s heat from escaping back into space and causing global warming. Many of these greenhouse gases occur naturally, but human activity is raising the amounts of several of them, in particular: carbon dioxide (CO2) methane nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases
The main contribution to global warming is human-produced CO2. By 2020, its atmospheric concentration has increased by 48 percent above its pre-industrial level (before 1750). Human activity emits lower quantities of other greenhouse gases. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, although it has a shorter atmospheric lifespan. Similar to carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that builds in the atmosphere over decades to centuries.
Natural sources, such as changes in solar radiation or volcanic activity, are estimated to have contributed less than plus or minus 0.1°C to global warming between 1890 and 2010.
Reasons for growing emissions
Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are byproducts of the combustion of coal, oil, and gas. Clearing forests (deforestation). Trees contribute to climate regulation by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. When they are felled, this beneficial effect is gone and the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect. Increasing livestock production. When digesting their food, cows and sheep release significant quantities of methane. Nitrogen-containing fertilisers cause nitrous oxide emissions.
Equipment and products that utilise these gases emit fluorinated gases. These emissions have a warming effect up to 23,000 times stronger than CO2.
2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record, with the global average temperature hitting 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels in 2019. Currently, global warming caused by humans is increasing at a pace of 0.2°C every decade. A temperature increase of 2°C relative to pre-industrial periods is associated with severe negative effects on the natural environment and human health and well-being, including an increased risk of harmful and potentially catastrophic changes to the global ecosystem.
For this reason, the international community has acknowledged the need to keep global warming far below 2°C and undertake measures to restrict it to 1.5°C.
Also Read: No AC? 5 Easy Ways to Beat the Summer Heat