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       To understand climate change, you must
first have an understanding of what climate is. Climate is the usual weather/temperature
of a place on earth. Climate could also change for different seasons in parts
of the earth. Earth’s climate can be calculated by combining all the climates
around the world together. “Climate change is a change in the usual weather
found in a place” (Dunbar, Nasa.gov.). Many things can be a cause to climate
change. 

                CO2 has contributed more to
climate change than any other cause between 1950 and 2018. Deforestation is
a huge component to the amount of CO2 emitted into the Atmosphere. Forest
absorb greenhouse gases, and produce oxygen for humans and animals to breath. “Carbon
dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities” (“What
Is Climate Change?”).

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             The total Emissions in 2015
equaled 6,587 Million Metric Tons of CO2. In 2015 alone , it was estimated that
CO2 accounted for approximately 82.2% of all United States. greenhouse gas
emissions. This is from human activities. Carbon dioxide is naturally already
in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide emission is a part of the earths carbon
cycle. Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere naturally when it is
absorbed by plants. This is a part of the biological carbon cycle. Human
activities are changing/altering this cycle by adding more CO2 to the
atmosphere. The main human activity that emits CO2 into the atmosphere is the
use of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gases, and coal. These can be used for
transportation and energy. Electricity is a large source of energy in the
United States. Electricity is primarily used to power homes, businesses, and
industries. The use of fossil fuels in the United States to produce electricity
was the largest source of CO2 emissions in 2015, accounting for approximately
35 percent of total CO2, and 29 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Burning
coal produces more CO2 than natural gases or oil. The use of fossil fuels such
as gasoline for transportation was the second largest source of CO2 emissions
in 2015, accounting for approximately 32 percent of total U.S. CO2 emissions
and 26 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Many industries emit CO2
through fossil fuel combustion.  Global
carbon emissions from fossil fuel usage were 9.795 gigatons in 2014 alone (35.9
GtCO2 of carbon dioxide).  Fossil fuel
emissions were 0.6% above emissions in 2013 and approximately 60% above
emissions in 1990. “Fossil fuel emissions (including cement production)
accounted for about 91% of total CO2 emissions from human sources in 2014” (“Global
Carbon Emissions”). The 2014 level of CO2 in the atmosphere was 43% above the
level when the Industrial Revolution started in 1750. To fully assess the
threat of global warming, we must demand action from our elected officials to
support and implement a set of climate solutions.

A solution would be to
expand the use of renewable energy sources that are cleaner and move away from
nonrenewable energy sources that cause more harm to our environment.” Burning
coal pollutes our environment with toxins, produces a quarter of US global
warming emissions, and accounts for a whopping 80 percent of all carbon
emissions produced by power generation nationwide.”, (“Smart Energy Solutions:
Decrease Coal Use.”). There are approximately 1,964,460 coal plants operational
today. To decrease our reliance on coal, we need to replace them with reliable
clean energy sources.

Wind power is very
cost-effective. Land-based utility-scale wind is one of the lowest-priced
energy sources available today that doesn’t severely damage our environment.
Wind power cost between two and six cents per kilowatt-hour. “Wind creates
jobs. The U.S. wind sector employed more than 100,000 workers in 2016, and the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics named wind turbine technician the fastest
growing American job of the decade” (“Advantages and Challenges of Wind
Energy”). Wind energy alternative has an annual economic impact of about $20
billion in just the U.S. alone. It is a clean fuel source. Wind energy does not
pollute the atmosphere with toxic chemicals such as coal or natural gases like
power plants that emit particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide,
causing human health problems and economic damages. Wind turbines do not
produce atmospheric emissions that cause smog, or greenhouse gases. Wind is
also a domestic source of energy. Over the past 10 years, wind power capacity
in the United States alone increased an average of about 30% per year, and wind
now has the largest renewable generation capacity of all renewables in the
United States. Wind turbines can be built on existing ranches or farms. This
benefits the economy in most rural areas, where the best wind sites are found.

The clean carbon plan
would help put a limit on the amount of carbon companies can emit. “The Clean
Power Plan establishes state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions,
and it offers a flexible framework under which states may meet those targets” (“The
Clean Power Plan: A Climate Game Changer”). This plan provides for many options
to reduce carbon emissions and determines state emissions reduction targets by
estimating the extent to which states can take advantage of each of them.
States can also join together in multi-state compacts to find the lowest cost
options for reducing their own carbon emissions, including emissions trading
programs.

The opposing side may
state that climate change is due earth’s natural causes non-related to human
activity. One of the most known explanations is that climate change is due to
the variations in the amount of sunlight that hits earth’s surface. “Variations
in the Sun itself have alternately increased and decreased the amount of solar
energy reaching Earth. Volcanic eruptions have generated particles that reflect
sunlight, brightening the planet and cooling the climate” (“Global Warming:
Feature Articles”,4). Volcanic activity has also increased greenhouse gases
over the years, contributing to global warming episodes.

Deforestation is also a
crucial factor in global climate change. “forests all over the globe are,
naturally, so-called ‘carbon sinks’, or areas of natural environment such as
oceans that can take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into
oxygen.” (How Does Deforestation Affect Climate Change?).

Forests are vital for
human and animal lives. Forests absorb greenhouse gases that fuel climate
change, keep soil moist by blocking the sun, absorb carbon dioxide and produce
oxygen. Forests cover about 30% of the world’s land area. It is estimated that
due to cutting and burning of forests every year, more than 1.5 billion tons of
carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. If the current rate of
deforestation continues, there will sadly be no more rainforests in
approximately 100 years. Some of the main causes of deforestation are:
production of wood and timber for essential need such as building homes or
furniture, farmland for agricultural growth, and urbanization which is
necessary because of our increasing population. Solutions to deforestation is
one of the most cost-effective ways of stopping climate change. Companies can
make an impact by introducing “No Deforestation” policies that help clean up
their supply chains. This would mean having to hold their employers responsible
for producing goods in ways that contribute to deforestation. Companies should
also set realistic targets to maximize the use of recycled wood, pulp, and
paper in their products. Globally, we need commitments to help reduce
greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in developing nations. Forests for
Climate is one of the many ways to make that happen. “Forests for Climate is an
innovative proposal for an international funding mechanism to protect tropical
forests. Under this initiative, developing countries with tropical forests can
make commitments to protecting their forests in exchange for the opportunity to
receive funding for capacity-building efforts and national-level reductions in
deforestation emissions.” (“Solutions to Deforestation”). This provides an
incentive for developing countries to continually improve and implement their
forest protection programs. Reforestation is the restoration of forests that
have been reduced by fire or felling. It involves selecting and dedicating
large tracts of land mainly for cultivating forests. In local communities and
urban centers, it can be done around market areas, in wildlife reserves, within
city parks, or large areas of land.

The opposing side could
argue that the “greenhouse effect” causes the atmosphere to retain heat and
that this could be a natural cause of climate change.  The United States EPA states, “When sunlight
reaches Earth’s surface, it can either be reflected back into space or absorbed
by Earth. Once absorbed, the planet releases some of the energy back into the
atmosphere as heat (also called infrared radiation)” (“Causes of Climate
Change”). Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and water vaper
prevent the loss of heat to space. GHGs act like a blanket, making Earth warmer
than it would be. This process is what is known as the “greenhouse
effect”.  Over the last several hundred
thousand years, CO2 levels varied in sync with the glacial cycles. During warm
periods knows as “interglacial periods” CO2 levels were high. During cool
periods known as “glacial periods” CO2 levels were lower. The temperature of
the earth’s surface can cause changes in the natural sinks of these gases, and
greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

“Climate feedbacks
amplify or reduce direct warming and cooling effects. They do not change the
planet’s temperature directly” (“Causes of Climate Change”). Positive feedbacks
are feedbacks that amplify the changes. Negative feedbacks are feedbacks that
counteract the changes. Water Vapor causes a positive feedback. As the earth’s
temperature rises, the ability of the air to hold water vapor and the rate of
evaporation rise. This increases the amount of water vaper in the air. This
leads to further warming. The melting of the arctic sea is another positive
feedback. The loss of ice exposes the underlying sea surface which is darker
and absorbs more sunlight than ice. `Negative feedbacks sound like they would
be the ones to contribute to global warming, but they do just the opposite.

Some types of clouds can
cause negative feedback. Warming temperatures can increase the reflectivity of
certain clouds, reflecting even more sunlight back into space. This cools the
surface of the earth. Other types of clouds contribute a positive feedback.

With all things
considered and the evidence that has been analyzed, I believe that climate change
is a result of mankind. I believe that before the industrial revolution natural
causes were a leading factor of climate change but now that urbanization and
modernization are key factors in the development of our society, mankind is the
largest factor in climate change. If we do not help put a stop to the excessive
amounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, and the deforestation of our
forests, I fear that in the next 200 years the earth will be uninhabitable

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