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Causes of Climate Change

Causes of Climate Change

Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

Determine the causes of climate change.

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Tutorial

what's covered
This tutorial will cover the topic of the causes of climate change. We will discuss human activities that produce greenhouse gases and their effect on climate change. We will explore how climate change has changed over time, and the various sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Our discussion breaks down as follows:

  1. Human Activities
  2. Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions


1. Human Activities

Human activities that produce greenhouse gases include:

Human Activity Greenhouse Gas Effect
Fossil Fuel Use Produces greenhouse gases directly from burning
Urban Sprawl Encourages more vehicle miles traveled and as a result, more tailpipe emissions like carbon dioxide
Agricultural Practices Practices such as grazing produce large quantities of methane
Population Growth All producers of greenhouse gases are multiplied as population growth demands more fossil fuel consumption, more urban sprawl, and more vehicle miles traveled

The Industrial Revolution, largely fueled by coal, resulted in a large spike in greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. While other greenhouse gases are potent, CO2 is the most important pollutant to monitor because so much of it is produced from human activities.

The below graph shows global atmospheric CO2 concentrations since 1880. As we can see, CO2 has risen approximately 80 parts per million, and global temperatures have gone up around 1.5 degrees.

CO2 Chart

hint
Important to note is that methane has also increased in concentration, largely from agriculture, since the Industrial Revolution -- and it is 30 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

In addition, deforestation has reduced the amount of CO2 being absorbed in the process of photosynthesis.


2. Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The below graph depicts various sources of greenhouse gas emissions and their percentage of total output. Energy is biggest at 25.9%, followed by industry at 19.4%, forestry at 17.4%, agriculture at 13.5%, transportation at 13.1%, buildings at 7.9%, and water and wastewater at 2.8%.

Greenhouse Gas Chart


summary
Today we learned about the causes of climate change. We learned about human activities and their relationship with climate change through production of greenhouse gases, and how climate has changed over time. We also learned which sources are contributing to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions, along with their percentage of impact.

Source: Adapted from Sophia instructor Jensen Morgan, ATMOSPHERIC CO2 PD HTTP://BIT.LY/1MJIB0Q