Understanding the Impact of Climate Change
The next decade will be crucial in implementing changes that will aim to reverse the affect of global warming. Historically, periods of warmth could be attributed to various factors: the sun, volcanic eruptions and changes in the earth's orbit have all factored into these warming periods. But the single most significant factor in recent climate change is humans. Statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) show a major increase in greenhouse gas emissions within the last century.
Since the Industrial Revolution, nearly 3.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide has been added to the earth's atmosphere annually, a 35 percent increase. Scientists are concerned that the Arctic is heating nearly twice as fast as the rest of the planet in the last 50 years, and because of the 7 human contributions to increasing greenhouse gas emissions, the dangers associated with rising temperatures could be realized in the near future.
Leading Causes of Global Warming
Fossil Fuel Consumption
The burning of fossil fuels is considered the greatest threat in global climate change. According to the EIA, the U.S. contributes more than 25 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions from energy production. In fact, power plants produced a whopping 2,459,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2006.
More than 20 percent of all carbon emissions in the U.S. come from automobiles, large trucks and airplanes.
The gradual decomposition of trash in landfills produces more than 34 percent of methane emissions. Methane isn't as concentrated in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, but does trap more solar heat than other gases.
The destruction of forest populations is seriously interrupting the natural maintenance of carbon through photosynthesis, emitting million of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
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