There are several causes of climate change, and they all add up to a fairly grim view of the Earth's future sustainability. The leading causes are greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere (including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide from various sources), and deforestation. These causes will be discussed in the following few paragraphs, as we try to better understand the causes of climate change so we can do something about it and aim to reduce the harmful and irreversible effects on our planet. These climactic changes are a global occurrence, and can be seen in your own backyard - you do not need to enroll in a work program to see the effects of climate change on our planet.

Carbon Dioxide
In 2002 about 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions stem from the burning of fossil fuels for the purpose of electricity generation. Coal accounts for nearly all of the emissions from the electric utility industry. Industries need electricity to run their factories, and retail locations, and to light up their billboards and advertisements. A visit to New York City's Time Square will demonstrate how much businesses rely on electricity to run their ads and sustain their businesses. From your local shop to the factory down the street that produces strapping machine parts, the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted to keep these companies afloat is enormous. Page provided by:

Carbon dioxide that comes from cars is another substantial source of the harmful gas. For each gallon of gas a vehicle consumes, 19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted into the air. Vehicles with poor gas mileage have even higher emissions, and they contribute the most to global warming. Sports utility vehicles, which are sadly growing in popularity among city dwellers, were built for rough terrain, off road driving in mountains and deserts. When they are used for city driving, they are a serious threat to the environment. If one has to have a large vehicle for their family, station wagons are a more intelligent choice for city driving, especially in today's tough economy, since their price is about half that of an SUV. Choosing a smaller compact car that gets excellent miles per gallon is not only a wise choice for the planet, but financially as well. Choosing a hybrid or a fuel efficient car will likely leave enough room in your budget to purchase one of those expensive but irresistible townhouses in Toronto. Carbon dioxide also comes from Airplanes, whose jet fuel is very harmful to the planet, and it is estimated that by the year 2050, aviation could be responsible for as much as 15 percent of climate change.
Methane and Nitrous oxide While carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas, methane is the second most important. Due to the properties of Methane, it is more than 20 times as effective as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Another greenhouse gas is Nitrous oxide, a colorless, non-flammable gas with a sweetish odor, commonly known as "laughing gas", and is most commonly used as an anesthetic. Nitrous oxide is naturally produced by oceans and rain forests. Man-made sources of nitrous oxide include nylon and nitric acid production, the use of fertilizers in agriculture, cars with catalytic converters and the burning of organic matter. Nitrous oxide is broken down in the atmosphere by chemical reactions that involve sunlight, and this process releases the harmful gas into the air that we breathe.

After carbon emissions caused by humans, deforestation is the second principle cause of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Deforestation is responsible for one quarter of all carbon emissions entering the atmosphere, by the burning and cutting of about 34 million acres of trees each year. We are losing millions of acres of rain forests each year, and the destroying of tropical forests alone is throwing hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. We are also losing temperate forests. The temperate forests of the world account for an absorption rate of 2 billion tons of carbon annually. In the temperate forests of Siberia alone, the earth is losing 10 million acres per year. This is a trend that must be stopped not only to keep the natural oxygen emitters and pollution absorbers (also known as trees), but these forests are home to billions of species that are going extinct at a rapid rate due to this loss of their habitat.

City Gridlock
In 1996 according to an annual study by traffic engineers at a Texas university, it was found that drivers in Los Angeles and New York City alone wasted 600 million gallons of gas annually while just sitting in traffic. The 600 million gallons of gas translates to about 7.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in just those two cities alone. Imagine the gas that is wasted by transport trucks who must sit in these traffic jams to deliver their loads of flour, or a large pin mixer.

All of these causes contribute to climate change, and thankfully, they are all things that we humans have control over. Making energy conscious choices such as turning out lights, unplugging appliances when not in use and driving environmentally friendly cars will certainly reduce the speed at which climate change is taking hold over our planet.

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The Enviroment

Thursday, May 23, 2024