Global warming is the process by which the Earth’s average atmospheric temperature increases over time. The Earth has experienced both global warming and cooling during its 4.5-billion-year history. However, the current rate of temperature increase exceeds that which occurred in the past. Many scientists suspect that the accelerated rate of temperature increase is the result of human behavior.
The primary driving force behind global warming is the change in the chemical composition of the Earth’s atmosphere. By burning hydrocarbons, humans release elevated levels of carbon dioxide into the air. As the atmosphere’s carbon concentration goes up, the planet retains more of the heat from the sun. The process works similarly to the way a greenhouse does, which is why scientists refer to carbon dioxide as a “greenhouse gas.” Carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas, but it is the most important one for humans to monitor. Methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases also contribute to global warming.
Rising temperatures cause a variety of effects on the planet. While a few of these effects are beneficial, most are detrimental to the current balance of nature. For example, rising carbon dioxide levels may cause plants to grow more quickly, but the accompanying rise in temperature may cause the polar ice caps to melt, raising the global sea level.Learn More
Renewable energy sources do not emit carbon emissions, and these energy sources provide jobs and benefits to economies, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The disadvantages of renewable energy include high investment costs, and the energy output for certain renewable energy sources varies on location or weather. Renewable technologies are cost-competitive, but there are hidden costs that include displacement and environmental pollution.Full Answer >
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration lists agricultural expansion, wood harvest, urbanization and infrastructure creation as the direct causes of deforestation. Converting forested lands for agricultural use is by far the largest cause of deforestation. Conversion to agricultural lands primarily occurs in developing nations and is carried out by subsistence farmers, while other types of deforestation are triggered by economic growth.Full Answer >
A positive human impact on the environment occurs when a person takes action to improve society, nature and its resources. Acting positively, even in a small manner, has a major impact on the environment, especially when it is done consistently.Full Answer >
Poaching, the illegal hunting and harvesting of animals, has a devastating effect on both the individual species and on entire ecosystems and local communities. Additionally, continued poaching encourages and supports the black market and organized crime organizations that thrive on victimizing animals.Full Answer >