Anthropogenic Climate Change Now!
April 22, 2013
Regardless of one’s stance on the global warming debate, all sides can agree on one simple fact: emissions and waste created in an industrial society pollute the air, water, and earth. Working to reduce atmospheric levels of pollution, including greenhouse gases, promotes green energy and industry while helping society adapt to a planet-
friendly standard of living. Addressing environmental pollution through immediate anthropogenic climate change initiatives will not only help to stabilize current and future atmospheric carbon concentrations, it will promote a long-term strategy for environmental sustainability. Both natural and human factors contribute to the changes in the Earth’s energy balance. Variations in the sun’s energy reaching Earth, changes in the reflectivity of the Earth’s atmosphere, and alterations to the greenhouse effect can alter the temperature of the Earth (Metz, Davidson, Bosch, Dave, & Meyer, 2007). Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have increased by almost 40% since pre-industrial times, from approximately 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv) in the 18th century to 390 ppmv in the year 2010 (Metz, Davidson, Bosch, Dave, & Meyer, 2007). The current carbon dioxide level is higher than it has been in at least 800,000 years (EPA, 2013). Without immediate intervention, the carbon dioxide concentrations accrued at today’s rate could triple pre-industrial amounts and increase temperatures 3 to 10 degrees Celsius (Dietz, 2007). In general, climate changes prior to the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s can be explained by natural causes, such as changes in solar energy, volcanic eruptions, and natural changes in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations (Metz, Davidson, Bosch, Dave, & Meyer, 2007). Recent climate changes, however, cannot be attributed to natural causes alone. Research indicates that natural causes are very unlikely while explaining most of the observed warming, especially climate warmth increases since the mid-20th century (Metz, Davidson, Bosch, Dave, & Meyer, 2007). Instead, human actions are more likely to blame for the majority of climate warming in the late twentieth century. The largest amount of growth in global GHG emission levels between the years of 1970 and 2004 has come from the energy supply sector, showing an increase of 145% (Metz, Davidson, Bosch, Dave, & Meyer, 2007). To counteract this growth, various environmental policies have been implemented worldwide. These regulations include those on climate change, energy security, and sustainable development and have shown to have been effective in reducing GHG emissions in many different industry sectors and countries (Metz, Davidson, Bosch, Dave, & Meyer, 2007). The scale of such measures, however, has not yet been large enough to counteract the increasing growth in global emission levels (Metz, Davidson, Bosch, Dave, & Meyer, 2007).
In order to stabilize the concentration of GHG’s in the atmosphere, carbon emissions would need to reach a peak and begin to decline to show improvement (Metz, Davidson, Bosch, Dave, & Meyer, 2007). Legislation that would encourage a lower stabilization peak level could help this peak and decline event occur earlier than projected. The global warming bill, AB 32, the nation's most ambitious effort to combat global climate change, has a goal of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other GHG’s by 25% before the year 2020 (Lifscher, 2006). AB 32 regulations along with global carbon mitigation efforts over the next two to three decades will have a large impact on opportunities to achieve lower peak stabilization levels prior to the year 2050. Climate change legislation and international cooperation can enable stabilization levels to peak and decline in the shorter-term. Lower stabilization levels can be achieved through technologies and industry that is currently available and those...
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