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.
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: Shlaw.ca.
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.
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.