Anthropogenic Climate Change

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Across the globe, people debate the cause of climate change. Some claim that all observed changes are simply natural, pointing to the historical records of the periodic rise and fall in global temperature. Others dispute those claims and instead state that climate changes are being caused by humans, and the unchecked release of carbon. Neither group is neither fully correct, nor incorrect. Climate change is both anthropogenic (human caused) and naturally caused. The difference between the two being: natural changes to the environment tend to be cyclical, balanced, and relatively ineffectual when compared to human changes to the environment, which are neither cyclical nor balanced. For the millennia that Earth has existed, many fluctuations …show more content…
According to volcanologist Terry Gerlach, these natural eruptions, “range from 0.13 to 0.44 billion metric tons [of carbon dioxide] per year” (201). Additionally, during the 9-hour periods of the Mt. St Helens and Pinatubo eruptions, 0.001 and 0.006 gigatonnes were released into the atmosphere every hour. Anthropogenic activity releases on average 0.004 gigatonnes per hour, so during these eruptions, carbon release seems to be equal to that of humans. However, as Gerlach states, “volcanic paroxysms are ephemeral, while anthropogenic CO2 is emitted relentlessly from ubiquitous sources” (202). Ergo, volcanic eruptions can and do release a sizable amount of carbon into the atmosphere, but their occurrence is so infrequent as to be relatively ineffectual in a modern climate. Anthropogenic emissions seem instead a large factor in the modern …show more content…
However, natural influences- Milankovitch cycles and volcanic emissions, for example- are dwarfed by the anthropogenic release of carbon, which has caused an imbalance in the release and reabsorption of carbon dioxide and therefore a steady climb of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is clearly true that both humans and the planet itself alter the climate and cause it to fluctuate, however, human impact is much less stable and much more apparent than natural impact, which has historically displayed itself to be overall

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