What Causes Global Warming?

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  • Written By: J.Gunsch
  • Edited By: Sara Z. Potter
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Global warming refers to an increase in the earth’s temperature which is believed to be caused in part by the greenhouse effect or the excessive releases of gasses such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides as well as the depletion of the ozone layer which is mainly the result of chlorofluorocarbons and halocarbons that are released into the atmosphere.

Many people believe that global warming is largely due to the effects of human activities, especially industry and agriculture. However, while human activity is very likely a big contributing factor, we are not the sole cause of global warming. In addition, the issue of rising global temperatures is not an exact science.

Scientists believe that over the last 400,000 years, there have been four almost identical weather cycles, lasting a little over 100,000 years each. During each cycle it was cold for almost 100,000 years. Then there was a much warmer period lasting 10 to 20 thousand years with average temperatures comparable to the present. By studying weather patterns in terms of 10’s of thousands of years, it is likely that year to year fluctuations in temperature and a gradual increase in the average global temperature indicates a natural "global warming" cycle.


In the past few hundred thousand years, the major cause of climate change has been due to the cyclic variation of earth's orbit around the sun which has changed the average amount of energy that the earth receives from the sun. These variations in earth's orbit have created some very long lasting "astronomic seasons", similar to "regular seasons" over a year. They have been the major cause of climate change and have generated the series of ice ages and "warm" periods like the ones we are now experiencing.

This natural astronomical cycle has a domino effect on the planet which further increases the incident of global warming. One very important factor involves the arctic regions. The slight rise in temperatures is enough to begin to melt the earth’s permafrost which is the ground that has been frozen since the last ice age. When this happens, the layers of dead plant material and other organic compounds in the soil begin to decay which creates byproducts of carbon dioxide and methane gases. This process releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere creating a vicious cycle that snowballs global warming. Volcanic eruptions also contribute to the presence of gases in the atmosphere.


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Post 3

@anon489: Your last sentence said it all.

Post 2

Interestingly, the discussion of uncontrolled global population growth on the environment is at paucity levels. One article stated that over 40% of the cause of global warming is directly due to over population...(increased demand on earth's limited resources such as water; decreased forests that reduce the CO2 cleaning ability; increased clearing of land for population, farming, and "industrialization" growths). The other "corrective measures" to "global warming" and correlary "climate changes" account for less that 2% of the overall impact. Thus, even though recycling, reversal of the ozone layer destruction, and less reliance on fossil fuels are needed and contribute to the overall health of the planet...the biggest danger to the spaceship earth is "over population" and its associated impact on the earth's resources. So the question becomes: How do we control the world wide population growth?????

Post 1

It's heartening to read, for a change, of solar activity being responsible for global warming, instead of the big, bad human population. Global warming has become a global economy, the result of green awareness being written into most western governments' policies. We are now tidier than ever before, doing our duty, recycling, energy-saving etc., because the man-made phenomenon has been touted by all major governments, the result, probably, of government-funded scientific research. Is science dancing to the tune of politics? Scientists who have "proven" that it's anthropogenic activities that have accelerated global warming in modern times are given a platform on which to stand. Yet global warming is as old as the earth itself. Read the previous

input. If natural solar activity is driving global warming, then we've succeeded in tidying up our own backyards. If human industrialisation is the cause, then we've barely scratched the surface. Different coloured "wheelie" bins for recycling our rubbish is hardly going to make an impact against policies of enlargement (airports), developments (houses and supermarkets in almost every town) and new roads (the Aberdeen by-pass, for example). All will be built at the expense of green or brown spaces, where ecological succession would eventually have produced green plants, which would have naturally offset some carbon emissions. Think of this world wide. If global warming is solely down to mankind, then we need a huge shift in human consciousness to avert an ecological disaster.

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