To understand the causes and effect of global warming, you must first know something about natural climate change. The Earth has always experienced climate change due to small variations in orbit and solar intensity. There have always been periodic volcanic eruptions with related aerosol emissions and significant releases of CO2. Tectonic plates have shifted causing some climatic changes. Ocean currents and temperatures change over time. When ocean temperatures are cool, oceans capture and hold CO2. When the ocean temperatures warm considerably, the CO2 is released and we have more natural greenhouse gas. As a result, the Earth has long had cycles of cooling and heating. Those persons who claim that global warming is a hoax, generally use climate change evidence to conclude that global warming is a natural event. Such a conclusion is false as I will explain below.
Global warming is the increase of average measured temperatures of the Earth’s oceans and near-surface air. In the 100 year period ending 2005, scientific evidence indicates that the Earth has an increase of such temperatures measuring 0.74 degrees F (0.18 degrees C). A large percentage of this temperature increase is believed to be from man-made (anthropogenic) causes due to dramatically increasing population numbers, worldwide, along with massive CO2 pollution from burning very large quantities of fossil fuels. Humans also cause many types of pollution that increases the overall quantity of greenhouse gas; e.g. the daily burning of charcoal by over 1 (one) billion people who now use charcoal for cooking and heating (due to a lack of other fuel options). By increasing the level of greenhouse gas over and above natural levels, the added pollution caused by humans has greatly increased the amount of global warming, and the damages (effect) caused by global warming.
The effect of human acceleration of global warming is shown in: 1) Rising seal levels; 2) More extreme weather events; 3) Changes in precipitation; 4) More desertification & deforestation; 5) Glacier retreat; 6) Crop yield decreases; 7) More species extinctions; 8) An increase of disease vectors; and 9) Increasing numbers of refugees who are forced from their homes. On an indirect basis, another effect of global warming has been a general refusal to accept the reality of the threat. All the National Academies of Science, for major industrialized nations, agree that global warming at current levels presents significant threats. However, a few large corporations seek to sustain their global pollution at current levels because they believe reduction of their pollution would be too expensive. President George W. Bush paid political debts to some of these corporation by having members of his administration alter scientific documents so that solid evidence of global warming hazards were deleted, to make the threat disappear. Thus, another effect of global warming has been to increase levels of political corruption by those who seek to profit from pollution.
Human contributions to accelerated global warming are caused by pollution in all its forms. In addition to the burning of massive quantities of fossil fuel and charcoal, as mentioned above, there are many many other types of pollution caused by humans. There are now 2.9 billion impoverished populations, worldwide, with no real sanitation facilities. As a result, over 4,000 children die each day from drinking water polluted with the bacterium, viruses, and parasites from human waste. All of this waste causes excess nutrient pollution of waters, resulting in greatly increased algal growth indirectly acting to increase CO2 levels. All of the large animal feeding operations create similar problems when livestock manure and manure effluent results in nutrient pollution of our waters. Massive pollution of our oceans is changing the pH levels and creating huge “dead-zones” where nothing can survive. There are now thousands of such problems that have been well documented, and it is clear that humans are engaged in the “trashing” of the planet they depend upon for life.
There is also the so-called “response effect” to global warming. In brief, this effect is seen as the search, development, and implementation of solutions to human causes of global warming. These solutions include “green” (alternative) energy development, organic food production, hybrid cars, more mass transit, zero net energy housing, plasma gasification of waste, improved sanitation, pollution control measures, and so on. We do have solutions, but these solutions need to be implemented on a large scale. In the past, we have had wealthy and politically powerful special interests who spent millions of dollars to pay lobbyists and “political payola” (large, sustained campaign contributions) to promote products known to be major causes of pollution; e.g. the petroleum companies. Part of the response effect will be increased citizen efforts to counter the corruption of our political system by special interests who seek to delay or defeat green solutions to human causes of global warming. Thus, the total effect of global warming is very diverse.