What Causes The Earth’s Climate To Change?

Humans are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth’s temperature by burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests and farming livestock. This adds enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to those naturally occurring in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming. 

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effects of climate change

Following are the natural causes of climate change:

  • Quantity of greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and water vapour. Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, but it stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter period of time: just a few days. 

CH4 stays in the atmosphere for about nine years until it is removed by oxidation into CO2 and water. CO2 stays in the atmosphere much longer, from years to centuries, contributing to longer periods of warming. These gases trap solar radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere, making the climate warmer.

  • CO2 content of the oceans

The oceans contain more CO2 total than the atmosphere and exchanges of CO2 occur between the oceans and the atmosphere. CO2 absorbed in ocean water does not trap heat as it does in the atmosphere.

The world’s oceans absorb about a quarter of the CO2 we release into the atmosphere every year. As atmospheric CO2  levels increase, so do the ocean’s CO2  levels. 

The causes of climate change are almost entirely anthropogenic, the primary ones being the increased use of fossil fuels, deforestation, increasingly intensive agriculture and large-scale livestock farming, all of which are required to support a spiralling global population.