Large factory with a lot of smoke stacks polluting into the air. Brown grass and air pollution

What is Global Warming? And What Causes it?

Global warming is changing the world drastically. Sea levels are rising, Natural disasters are more powerful and more frequent, and even some animals that were here long before us are going extinct. But what exactly is global warming and what’s causing it? 

Global Warming is the long-term rise of the earth’s average surface temperature. The earth has been going through periods of warming and cooling for hundreds of thousands of years. This is why Canada was under a kilometre of ice up until 10,000 years ago. The term global warming is mainly used to talk about the impact humans have had on the earth’s climate. Although some people may argue that global warming is not real, the vast majority of scientists believe that human influence has been the dominant cause of warming since the mid 20th century

Crowd at climate change protest. there is no planet b sign being help up by protestor
Climate Change Protest – 2017

What Causes Global Warming

Global warming is mainly caused by the emission of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The most important of these is the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels contain carbon, and when they are burnt this carbon combines with oxygen in the atmosphere to form carbon dioxide.

Once enough carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere it creates what is called a “greenhouse effect.” Radiation from a planet’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere. In other words, heat from the sun is coming through the earth’s atmosphere, reflecting on the surface, and becoming trapped in these greenhouse molecules. Which in turn is warming the planet.

Scientists have known about the greenhouse effect for a very long time. In 1824 a French mathematician named Joseph Fourier calculated that earth would be much cooler if it did not have an atmosphere. Without a natural greenhouse effect, the earth would be unlivable.

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What else could cause global warming?

The greenhouse effect is believed to be the leading cause in the warming of the earth. There are some other factors involved though. The earth’s climate is always changing; the earth has seen periods of warming and cooling for as long as it’s been around. The sun becoming more active could warm up the planet & there is also the potential for heat to come up from earth’s core.

The debate on whether or not global warming is caused by humans has shifted towards what we can do to prepare for the warming that’s coming.  Efforts made to stop the warming have transitioned into working towards slowing it down.

Some Effects of Global Warming

Picture from space of massive hurricane on earth
Hurricane from space

As the planet warms, we are seeing climate changes across the globe. This is leading to a number of issues:

  • Sea levels are rising at an alarming rate
  • Hurricanes are becoming stronger and more frequent
  • The earth is losing a lot of its land-based ice and permafrost
  • Climate change is becoming less predictable
  • Some animal’s habitats are heating up and they are unable to adapt to a warmer climate. We are currently in what scientists are calling the earth’s 6th mass extinction event. Some scientists believe that the earth could have as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century
  • Plant’s are also going extinct due to the warming

What Countries Contribute the Most to Global Warming?

Large white and red smoke stack polluting into a blue sky. Modern day air pollution

The top 3 highest contributors to global warming in order are:

  • China
  • The United States
  • India

You may have already heard that China is the biggest contributor to climate change based on each country’s share of CO2 emissions. But, if you measure off of each countries share of CO2 emissions per capita. The highest contributors in order are:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • Australia
  • Canada

What Countries Countries Do the Most to Help Out With Climate Change?

Sunset or sunrise at a wind power farm. Clean energy as far as the eye can see
  • France

France has become a world leader in the climate change space mainly due to the leadership role they took in coordinating the Paris climate accord. Their continued commitment to the goals outlined in the agreement makes them one of the countries doing the most to help slow down global warming.

  • Sweden

Sweden is one of the world’s leaders for low carbon emissions & one of the worlds best recycling systems. Sweden’s recycling system is so good they have to import garbage. They also have clear a goal set to have 100% renewable energy by 2040.

  • Cyprus

Cyprus continues to do the best job at consistently cutting carbon emissions. Year after year they continue to cut back around 3%. This is mainly due to the fact that Cyprus has been hit hard by climate change. There have been some horrible droughts that have hit the island over the past decade.

Global Warming Facts

  • eleven percent of all greenhouse gasses around the globe (caused by humans) is from deforestation. This is comparable to the emissions of all cars and trucks on the planet.
  • Eleven percent of the population is currently vulnerable to climate change and its effects. Such as droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events, and sea level rise.
  • 17 of the 18 warmest years have occurred since the year 2000.
  • In the Amazon rainforest 1% of the tree species sequester 50% of the region’s carbon.

Global Warming Myths

There is no consensus that humans are the driving force behind climate change”

The vast majority of scientists believe that humans are the driving force behind climate change since the industrial revolution.

“The planet is warming”

Whether or not you believe that humans are causing global warming, the planet is definitely warming.

“Animals and plants can adapt”

There is a mass extinction event going on right now… because animals and plants cannot adapt.

“Antarctica is gaining ice”

Antarctica is losing ice faster than ever before.

“Climate scientists are in it for the money”

There is far more money to be made in other professions, such as the oil industry.

How to Help

Small child walking through piles of garbage. So much garbage on the ground it looks like a landfill

Although it sounds cliché the best way to make an impact is by collective responsibility. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to ride your bike 10km to work every day, but I will tell you that you should carpool, and recycle as much as possible. Cutting back on emissions means cutting back on electricity, water, and heating too. If you turn your lights off as much as possible not only will you save a lot of money, you’ll also make an impact. Imagine if we had “earth hour” every day.

There is also some great charity’s out there. Greenpeace is one of them. Don’t feel inclined to donate if you don’t have the money but every little bit helps.

In conclusion, the planet is warming and we need to do something about it. There is no one here to come save the day. We must all take collective responsibility and do our part to prevent destroying our only home.

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