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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cause of Global Warming: From Mining Coal to Raising Cattle

There are many people that believe that humans are the single most cause of global warming. Scientists have been warning us for decades that we are recklessly destroying our world and not leaving much of a legacy for our descendants. When humans are the cause of global warming through different activities, these causes are said to be anthropogenic causes.The single most common cause of global warming perpetrated by human kind is the rise of greenhouse gas emissions. The three gases commonly cited as a cause of global warming are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.

The earth actually releases its own carbon dioxide emissions back into the atmosphere, the atmosphere is a layer of gases designed to keep in heat to warm the earth but over and above these natural greenhouse gases, of which carbon dioxide is one of them, anthropogenic levels of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere representing about 2 percent of the total emissions. Scientists are seeing even these small levels of carbon dioxide is disturbing the natural balance of the earth to regulate its own climate and temperatures.

Carbon Dioxide

The biggest anthropogenic carbon dioxide source comes from fossil fuel pollution. Fossil Fuel pollutions comes from stationary structures like coal burning plants, and mobile sources as well, such as pollution and exhaust from cars, buses and other forms of transportation. Electrical plants also release carbon dioxide and industrial processes, such as making cement do as well.

A second source of carbon dioxide emission comes from the process of deforestation. Deforestation is accountable for between 25 to 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. This amount translates to 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Trees are comprised of 50 percent carbon dioxide, when trees are cut down or burned they expel this carbon dioxide within the atmosphere. Thirteen Million hectares (HA) in forests are destroyed each year primarily in the tropics, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Much of the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere will also mix with the soil in a process of oxidation.

Humans require oxygen to breath while healthy trees breathe in carbon dioxide, and release oxygen, rotten or dead trees can no longer protect the atmosphere from too much carbon dioxide. Other decaying matter such as volcanoes, animal, plant life, and burned grass will emit carbon dioxide as well.


Methane gas is another greenhouse gas is a cause of global warming. Methane is naturally found in soil. Digging up the ground for coal, gas, biomass, and oil will release methane into the atmosphere. Landfills where garbage is burned are notorious for releasing methane gas but simply disturbing the ground for rice cultivation or farming livestock (manure) also facilitates the release of methane gas.

Nitrous Oxide is the fourth leading greenhouse gas known as a cause of global warming

Nitrous Oxide is found in soil and in the ocean naturally, but is released by the cultivation of soil for farming especially when nitrogenous fertilizers are added to the soil. Animals waste (from chickens, pigs, and cows) and left to ferment in the ground is responsible for bacteria in the soil and results in another source of nitrous oxide and green house gas emissions.

Hydrofluorocarbons, perflourocarbons, and chlorofluorocarbons

These artificially produced compounds found in industrial processes in factories or over the counter products such as products in aerosol cans are linked to the depletion of the ozone layer.


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