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Fossil Fuels: Causing Climate Change

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 875 words Published: 4th May 2017

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The problems of all of humanity can only be solved by all humanity. -Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt

Generally, the climate of our planet has always changed over the time since many years ago. However, Climate change has recently become a common issue in our daily lives. It has gained much attention from worldwide countries as it has affected many regions in the form of disasters. In most of the time, climate change is brought about by an increasing of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere especially CO2.

NOAA whose measuring location is Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii shows that the level of atmospheric CO2 keeps increasing every year. For example, it rose from 387.74ppm to 390.09ppm between 2009 and 2010 (NOAA, 2010). And this is resulted from different kinds of human activities which released CO2 into atmosphere every day.

As a result of that, it has brought up a question which remains debatable among the society; is the climate change mainly induced by human?

Due to the greenhouse gas emissions by human activities such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation and growing world population, it is beyond doubt that climate change is mainly caused by human.

This report will indicate the greenhouse gas emissions by human activities can induce the change in global climate. Furthermore, the research results are related to the United States of America, China and some European countries, because these countries are considered as world’s significant emitters of greenhouse gases.


2.1 Fossil fuels share a large proportion in greenhouse gas emissions

Fossil fuels are materials of biological origin occurring within the Earth’s crust that can be used as a source of energy, such as coal, oil, natural gas etc (fossil fuel, 2010). The burning of fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases directly to the atmosphere and are mostly used for the purpose of energy production, transportation, manufacturing and home or buildings heating. In addition, fossil fuels are the key source for human to generate energy; it provides 80% of the commercial energy supply. It is also a significant anthropogenic factor of greenhouse gases emissions. Most of global greenhouse gases are emitted by fossil fuel production and consumption. For instance, fossil fuels account for 70% of carbon dioxide (CO2), 29% of methane (CH4) and 20% of nitrous oxide (N2O). (Dawson & Spannagle2009, p.184)

At the same time, industrial Revolution is known as a starting point for the fossil fuel era, it induces a rapid rise in greenhouse gases in the air. Some believe that climate change is not necessarily caused by fossil fuels because more than half of the current changes occurred before the Industrial Revolution. There is no doubt that most of the changes existed before the Industrial Revolution. However, by looking at the rate of greenhouse gas emissions over the years after the Industrial Revolution, it indicates that fossil fuels have to be responsible for the change in global climate. This can be proved by Archer and Rahmstorf (2010); they claimed that due to an increase in the fossil fuel consumption by human, there is a rise in the rate of atmospheric CO2 by 20% higher than the rate before the Industrial Revolution, so do the other greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4). Hence, fossil fuels share a large proportion in greenhouse gases emissions.

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For example, China’s economy has grown quickly since 2000, and China has become one of the most noticeable emitters of C02 due to a persistent increase in fossil fuel consumption for energy production. The energy consumption in China increased by 14% in 2004, 15% in 2005 and 11% in 2006, therefore, fossil fuel consumption also increased which leads the amount of atmospheric CO2 to rise. (Dawson & Spannagle2009, p.21)

Similarly, according to Environmental Protection Agency (2010), the main source of greenhouse gases emissions especially CO2 is from fossil fuels combustion. The process of electricity generation accounts 41% of the CO2 emission in the United States, whereby the transportation is the second largest source. In addition, the industrial process and product uses can also produce the greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N20) and other gases in the form of by- product.

Some have argued that fossil fuels would not be blamed for the climate change because the consumption of fossil fuels has improved our living standard and the development of the economy. However, as the fossil fuels continue releasing a vast amount of greenhouse gases into the air, it will eventually affect human society and economy earlier than what it is expected to be. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that the fossil fuel consumption is expected to increase and the atmospheric CO2 concentrations will reach 550 ppm by 2035- 2040 which will result in serious climate change (Dawson & Spannagle2009, p.186).

In conclusion, fossil fuels are definitely a main cause of climate change by releasing a vast amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Clearly, humans are responsible for the climate change.


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