Air Clean Up
What Are the Causes of Climate Change?
Jun 16 2021
Despite the death and destruction that the coronavirus pandemic has caused to lives and livelihoods all over the globe, there are plenty among the scientific community who believe that climate change still represents a greater long-term threat to the human race. That’s because while Covid-19 has claimed its victims swiftly and mercilessly, climate change is a far more insidious and irreversible threat to our existence.
Global warming impacts not only the air but the temperature of the oceans, which can cause melting of the polar ice caps. This, in turn, can precipitate rising sea levels, which endanger coastal communities and upset delicate ecosystems. Meanwhile, an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events threatens agricultural yields and urban infrastructure, among many other facets of our daily lives. So what exactly is causing this potentially catastrophic phenomenon? Here’s a quick look at some of the biggest contributors to the climate change conundrum.
According to data compiled by the World Resources Institute, the energy industry is responsible for the greatest percentage of global emissions, at just under a quarter of the overall amount. The electricity, oil and gas used to light and heat our homes and businesses is the single biggest contributing factor to climate change, which is why activists and environmentalists are pushing for a transition towards more environmentally friendly sources of energy generation than fossil fuel combustion. Solar, wind and wave are three of the leading alternatives with a more sustainable footprint.
The sizable volume of emissions produced by smokestacks from factories and industrial facilities around the world are the second largest factor when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Responsible for just under 15% of the global total, industry is being targeted by government legislation across the globe as the authorities seek to encourage companies to clean up their act via the implementation of carbon capture and storage technology, among other avenues of investigation. Iron, steel, aluminium and non-ferrous metals production plants are among the chief offenders, while machinery fabrication, pulping and paper works and food and tobacco producers are other contributors.
Transport is only slightly behind industry in terms of its annual emissions, spouting out 14.3% of the global total (in comparison to industry’s 14.7%). There has long been a focus on improving air quality and reducing transport-related pollution in urban locations around the world, with the advent of electric vehicles (EVs) and other forms of green transport a positive step in the right direction. Other initiatives being trialled are car-free zones and days, as well as enhanced public transport infrastructures.
Responsible for 13.8% of global emissions, agriculture is another major offender which sometimes sneaks under the radar in comparison to its more notorious counterparts. In particular, the rearing of livestock and dairy cattle incurs a substantial amount of methane emissions, which have become a cause for global concern in recent years. That’s due to the fact that while methane does not persist in the atmosphere as long as CO2, it’s up to 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas in the short term. As such, environmentalists advocate adopting a meat-free diet and implementing more sustainable farming practices going forwards.
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