Science volcanosmokestack

Published on June 18th, 2009 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

65

Top Global Warming Causes – Natural or Human?

If you’ve followed the debate over climate change even a little, you likely know the main causes of global warming: concentrations of greenhouse gases build up in the Earth’s atmosphere, and create a “greenhouse,” or warming effect. You’re likely also aware that evidence of past warming periods has fueled the argument that natural causes are largely responsible for current global warming, and thus, our choices of ways to reduce global warming are limited. If Nature’s calling the shots, is there any reason to change human activities that increase levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases?

While arguments persist, there’s little doubt that human-produced greenhouse gas emissions play a major role in the current warming trend. Nature has a role, but it pales in the face of increasing emissions from human activity.

What are some of the natural causes of global warming?

Think back to science classes from school. You undoubtedly learned at some point that carbon dioxide is a naturally-occurring compound, that it provides food for plant life, and that animals breathe it out. You may have also learned that decaying organic material releases CO2. There’s no need to question these facts. Greenhouse gases can be emitted into the atmosphere from a variety of natural sources.

Skeptics of climate science, however, have latched onto a number of natural phenomena, and attempted to argue that they’re primary global warming causes.  Some of the natural occurrences you may have heard discussed include:

Volcanic eruptions: Yes, volcanoes emit CO2 when they erupt; as Grist‘s Coby Beck showed, though, volcanic CO2 emissions do not outweigh those produced by humans.

Solar cycles and cosmic rays: If you followed discussions about the causes of global warming at all, you’ve run across this argument. A recent study released by a group of European scientists concluded that “The chance of the natural cosmic-ray or solar irradiance explanation being responsible for more than 14% of the observed warming is quite negligible.”

Water vapor: You may have heard the claim that water vapor’s the most prevelant greenhouse gas, and therefore is the main cause of global warming (not CO2). This is half true. Water vapor is the most prevalent gas; however, it’s produced as feedback of increased CO2 emissions, and is not a “forcing” of global warming.

Why human causes of global warming are a much bigger problem

Many of the activities you take for granted ultimately contribute to global warming, including

  • Driving your car
  • Turning on your air conditioning or heat
  • Eating food that is locally out of season (or not locally grown), and shipped from other parts of the country or world

All of these activities rely on the use of fossil fuels. Burning of these fuels releases carbon dioxide… but CO2 that exists in a very different part of the carbon cycle. Fossil fuels are sequestered carbon: the elemental remains of organic entities (plants, animals) that were “stored away” by natural systems in order to maintain stability in the climate. You may find it ironic that many scientists and engineers are searching for ways to sequester carbon emissions: Nature had already done it quite well!

When you release carbon from fossil fuels by burning them, you’re essentially contributing to an “overflow” of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This overabundance of heat-trapping gases can lead to:

  • Rising sea levels
  • Changes in seasonal weather and precipitation patterns
  • Increased severe weather effects
  • Lower rivers and lakes that are fed by snow and ice melt-off
  • Habitat changes for a wide variety of plants and animals

So, can you claim a straight-line, cause-and-effect relationship between climate change and these phenomena? No… but we do know that climate change increases the probability of these effects. Consider Colorado University climate scientist Brad Udall’s analogy: the climate is like a six-sided die, with “Two faces [that] say warm, two normal, two cold. That is your normal climate… We have now changed it. Now it says three warm, two normal and one cold.” “Rolling the die” becomes much more treacherous.

Do natural events and occurrences play a role in global warming? Definitely. But if we’ve learned anything from studying the geological record, it’s that nature’s time table is very different from the one for the current warming cycle — the climate has never warmed at this quick a pace. We also know that extreme climate changes produce extreme results for life on Earth… and that you want to do your part to ensure that such results don’t occur more quickly than they might otherwise.

If you’re looking for more detailed scientific information about the causes of global warming, check out the International Panel on Climate Change’s “Summary for Policymakers” of its Fourth Assessment Report.

Looking to reduce your own carbon footprint? Consider an energy efficient dishwasher….

Image credits: takomabibelot and flydime at Flickr under a Creative Commons license



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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



  • http://www.altgreentech.com Chris

    I think it’s obvious that Humans are causing a lot more damage to the environment than anything natural.

    Just like the above ideas pointed out, the technology is outdated.

    It’s good that more businesses are trying to go green than ever before, but it’s gonna require more than that.

    Great Post!

    Chris
    Alternative Green Technologies
    Green Technology Blog

    • Jennifer

      They do not have much hard evidence at all…in fact, volcanoes produce so much carbon dioxide that every factory, vehicle, or any man made source combined could not add up to how much carbon dioxide is produced by one volcanic eruption. And may I ask what you consider “natural”? As far as I know…wait…carbon…dioxide…is…wait…a natural element?! What?..no way…well that helps us out. I thought Al Gore said we didn’t know anything…hmm…

      • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

        Jennifer – Arsenic and mercury are also natural – how much of those do want in your home? Water’s natural, but too much of it in one place does a lot of damage. Natural substances can still be harmful…

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  • Dan Pangburn

    Since 2000, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased 18.4% of the increase from 1800 to 2000. According to the average of the five reporting agencies, the trend of average global temperatures since 1998 shows no increase and from 2002 through 2008 the trend shows a DECREASE of 1.8°C/century. This separation (there have been many others) corroborates the lack of connection between atmospheric carbon dioxide increase and average global temperature.

    Many Climate Scientists appear to be completely uninformed of some relevant science and understand other relevant science poorly (it’s not in their curriculum). The missing science, using paleo temperature data, proves that added atmospheric carbon dioxide has no significant influence on average global temperature. See the pdfs linked from http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true for the proof, to identify the missing science and to see the cause of the temperature run-up in the late 20th century. Climate Scientists have adopted the word ‘feedback’ but use it completely differently than had been successfully applied for decades by engineers.

    As the atmospheric carbon dioxide level continues to increase and the average global temperature doesn’t it is becoming more and more apparent that many climate scientists have made an egregious mistake and a whole lot of people have been misled.

  • jeff

    By its very nature, climate changes. The climate on earth has ALWAYS CHANGED and will continue to CHANGE, no matter what we do.
    Those brainwashed to the point of wanting to destroy the economy to “prevent global warming” are behaving like the most primitive human beings who were duped into believing that human sacrifices would ensure them good weather. Human beings don’t have the power to control climate! And killing the economy will not help the environment.

    We have to acknowledging how insignificant we humans are in comparison to the natural forces that have been influencing this earth for millions of years

    Global warming the greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people and the world. It is a scare tactic. Global warming is a phrase that should be always retired from the climate debate.

    Please read this:
    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/ice_ages.html

    • Jennifer

      Couldn’t word it better myself. I think its funny how people say we are just over producing these unnatural gases…well hate to break it to them…carbon dioxide is…its kinda natural lol

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

    It is so strange that those who believe scientists when they find

    that germs cause disease,
    that asteroids if headed this way would be dangerous,
    that atom bombs cause cancer,
    that ozone holes cause melanoma,
    that overeating causes obesity,
    that reading in the dark causes eyestrain,
    that pollen and pollution causes asthma

    and so on and yet….

    suddenly pull up short when scientists find that carbon emissions cause climate change!

    Yet nearly all of those simple problems scientists uncovered were (once uncovered) easily able to be solved by other scientists,(and doctors,and soap manufacturers and Asthma inhaler manufacturers staff scientists and Jenny Craig, etc, etc)

    In the same way the simple problem of climate change from carbon emissions can be (and will be) solved by the thinking of automobile designers and mechanical engineers and architects, etc.

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

    On second thoughts, maybe the people who can’t believe scientists on climate change also don’t buy science on how “germs cause diseases” either?

    Maybe you are still at the “gravity causes apples to drop from trees to the ground” stage of scientific cause and effect thinking?

    14th century science?

  • Dan Pangburn

    Susan,
    Those who understand ALL of the relevant science know that added atmospheric carbon dioxide does not significantly increase average global temperature. The issue exists because Climate Scientists appear to be unaware of the science that disproves AGW (as I said above, it is not in their curriculum).

  • rockymtnway

    Let’s get real. Climate change is indisputable. The human influence on climate change is disputable. Oil, gas and coal have provided us with one of the greatest runs of social and scientific advancements in human history, but they’re all finite. Cheap energy is the only thing that has allowed these advances and there is nowhere in the world these resources will be easier to extract than the resources that have already been recovered. It is taking more energy to get every gallon of oil, cubic foot of gas, and ton of coal out of the ground today than it did 10 years ago and it’s only going to continue until the ratio approaches one to one.

    We need to stop being so damn altruistic in our attempts to save the planet and get selfish and start saving ourselves. Our food supply is completely dependent on non-renewable energy. Natural gas makes the fertilizers, diesel runs the trucks and tractors, oil makes the pesticides, and coal & gas is responsible for the processing, refrigeration, and heating of our food. The only way to save ourselves is to put in our own sweat equity to secure our own food that is independent of the grid.

    Stop focusing on your neighbor’s SUV. Let that be their problem when gas climbs over $5/gallon. Focus on your own ability to survive and perhaps even thrive the coming crisis when the oil stops flowing. You’ll not only save yourself, but you just might put a little less CO2 in the atmosphere while you’re at it.

    • Bonnie

      rockymtnway: Thank you! I think what you said sums up exactly how I feel about the subject. I just wanted to say that.

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  • Allan

    @Jeff
    The statistics that you cite(can you call the denialist blog you link to a citation?) to make your point have been addressed too many numerous times by climate scientists for me to bother trying to argue them here. Google is your friend, as are peer-reviewed publications. Denial-blogs written by wonks are not valid sources of information, sir. The fact remains: you are in an incredible and noncredible position. It doesn’t matter how angry that makes you, or how unfair you may think it is, AGW is a fact, and it’s not going away, no matter how much spurious nonsense you spout on these blog posts.

  • Allan

    @Jeff McIntire-Strasburg (author)
    May I humbly suggest that you change the title of this blog post so as to not indicate that there is valid scientific debate whether AGW causes are human or not? It is now conclusive–beyond a reasonable doubt–that AGW is real, and that the anthropogenic aspect of the theory is well-backed with real, and mounting data. By casting the title of your post as such a question, you are baiting the denialists and contributing to further public confusion over whether there really is a debate or not. There is no debate. The question in your title has been answered, and the only reason to pose the question at this point is to drive troll traffic to your site (see comments above).

    I would also humbly request that you change any references to “sceptics” of AGW in your post to “denialists.” People who continue to buy into the conspiracy theories that AGW is a hoax or that it’s not caused by humans are not skeptical; they are deniers. To call them skeptical misinterprets the very definfition of what a skeptic is, and further adds legitimacy to the wack-jobs and their insane ranting.

  • Dan Pangburn

    rockymtnway,
    All true except for the bit about CO2. Added atmospheric CO2 has no significant effect on climate but has increased food production.

    With the existing known technology of nuclear fission and breeder reactors, all of the energy needs of humanity can be met for millions of years. Generated electricity could provide light, heat and mechanical power for homes and commercial customers plus 80% of personal transportation energy by using plug-in hybrids. The energy could also be used to synthesize liquid fuel for the other 20% of personal transportation. This will eventually need to happen.

  • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    @Allan–

    Thanks for chiming in. I agree with your premise that the debate is over, but disagree with the idea that the title “is baiting denialists” (or only doing that). Unfortunately, the waters have been muddied, and there are still plenty of people asking that very question that want answers based in science… I think the post addresses that.

    As far as “skeptics” vs “deniers” — I think we spend way too much time on those kinds of arguments. If being a little generous with my labels avoids arguments on those labels, and keeps us focused on showing people in the middle the scientific facts surrounding climate change, I’m OK with being a bit generous… Moderation of tone doesn’t mean that I’m not passionate or serious about these issues; it means I recognize that some people who are still trying to figure all of this out get turned off quickly by a strident tone…

    Again, thanks for your input… I understand completely where you’re coming from…

  • Dan Pangburn

    Climate Scientists have calculated that increased atmospheric temperature causes increased water vapor in the atmosphere which further increases temperature. That is, that there is a positive feedback from temperature caused by increased water vapor in the atmosphere. Climate Scientists have calculated that other phenomena also contribute to temperature feedback. They combine all of these factors that they know about and get a NET positive feedback from temperature. With a NET positive feedback from temperature, their climate models will always show a continuation of a rising temperature trend.

    If a NET positive feedback from temperature were true, then a rising average global temperature trend could never change direction and become a declining temperature trend and/or vice versa. A review of accepted temperature anomaly data from the last (and previous) glacial periods reveals multiple examples of where temperature trend direction change occurred. This could only occur if there were no significant net positive feedback from average global temperature. Thus contrary to the popular ‘consensus’ of Climate Scientists there is no significant NET positive feedback from temperature.

    There must be negative feedbacks (as yet undiscovered except for Lindzen’s Iris Effect which alone may be adequate) that, when combined with the positive feedbacks from water vapor, etc., results in the NET feedback from temperature being not significantly positive. Without NET positive feedback the Global Climate models predict that there will be NO significant Global Warming from doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide. Without significant Global Warming from increased carbon dioxide, human use of fossil fuels has no significant influence on climate. Details and graphs are available at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true . Any action that is taken to reduce human produced carbon dioxide to reduce global warming or influence climate is a mistake that puts freedom and prosperity at risk.

    • http://www.lilyrickijadewalkes.com lilyrickijadewalkes

      Look for JPL’s (Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratoy) findings in Solar Energy Output, it is not only the Earth that is warming up but also is Mars, Venus, Jupiter, the Moon, Pluto (Former ninth planet) etc., the entire Solar System! and this is part of a sun cycle that happens every 11 years, after 2012 the solar output will be dramatically decrease only to increase again over the next 11 years. I’m not saying that we are not playing our part, we ARE but not as much as we are being forced to believe, the convenience of the idea that Global Warming is almost 100% being caused by humans comes into play because of the taxation on businesses and persons in all first and third world countries (I.E. cars in Europe are being taxed for miles driven according to their CO2 exhausts, businesses and buildings are also being taxed for their carbon footprint and so on…). this is all about information, those JPL reports are not easy to find but anyone can find them.
      This is of course science and it could be wrong, but the taxation is very real!!
      I’m not telling you to pollute, just open your eyes people!
      Take care, love your humanity and other’s humanity and take care of our “Desert Island” called Earth, it’s the only home we’ve got!

      Here are a couple teasers:

      http://wakeup-world.com/2011/09/02/c-e-r-n-scientific-study-concludes-global-warming-is-caused-by-the-sun/

      http://seoblackhat.com/2007/03/04/global-warming-on-mars-pluto-triton-and-jupiter/

      Give it a thought, investigate and draw your own conclusions.

      C-Ya! (GAY)

      lol this guys a muppet ^ SO WRONG. DISAGREE ENTIRELY, GLOBAL WARMING IS CAUSED BY ONLY CANDY FLOSS AND WASPS. GOOD DAY.

  • dhlii

    The fundimental question is not about the alternative explanations for Global Warming. The critical issue is that AGW is a theory based solely on a crude computer model of the environment. It may be indisputable that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, what is not know is how significant is its effect. Even the GCM – global climate model depends on feedback effects – basically CO2 alone does not produce the desired results. This is not established science, it is political science. Even the politically corrupt IPCC report does not support the fear mongering of the AGW malthusians. The opponents of AGW are increasing rather than decreasing. The include an increasing number of renowned scientists.
    Rant all you want about deniers, the GCM fails the most simple test. Outside the 20 year window ending with the turn of the century its predictions are completely off base. It does not accurately represent the past prior to the late 70’s, nor has it been accurate since 1998. We may have gained a great deal of knowledge over the past 30 years, but the fact is we do not know what causes climate change. You are absolutely correct that current science can not attribute Global warming to solar changes. At the same time models presuming climate change is entirely solar are orders of magnitude more accurate than CO2 models. Which do you want to bet on ? A model that works that requires the effects of the sign to be much greater than we beleive they are, or one that does not work and requires the effects of CO2 to be much greater than we know they are.

  • http://www.yahoo.com Bobby B.

    “All of these activities rely on the use of fossil fuels…Fossil fuels are sequestered carbon: the elemental remains of organic entities (plants, animals) that were “stored away” by natural systems in order to maintain stability in the climate.”

    Even the supposedly settled scientific statement regarding “dino-fuels” can be called into question, because it fails to account for similar compounds found on the lifeless planets within our own solar system. Some places apparently have fossil fuels minus the fossils. How in the heck did that happen?

    Also, if the planet sequestered carbon by generating oil and natural gases to maintain pre-industrial climate stability, how do we know that it lacks the ability to use the same mechanism in this industrial age?

  • Milan

    It takes some effort, but it is possible to argue Dan Pangburn to a standstill. In the end, his theory that sunspots are causing climate change is indefensible.

    See: http://www.sindark.com/2009/07/28/hfcs-and-climate-change/

  • Diane Hodge

    If animals breathe out CO2 and if that is what causes the infamous greenhouse effect, tehn it seems to me that it is humanity which has increased by billions that is causing global warming.

  • http://appliedmythology.blogspot.com Steve Savage

    Jeff, I just read this old post. You must realize that your list does not really touch on the “top” causes. Non-local food definitely would not be on that list. Since this still comes up all the time on you most visited links, wouldn’t it make sense to put a little more rigor into the analysis?

    Steve

  • http://aspolymath.blogspot.com Michael Cooper

    Thanks for this post. I am trying to understand global warming better. I think I am a long way away, but this is a good place to start.

    I tend to trust a scientific consensus, but I am approaching the matter with skepticism so that I can ask the right questions and gain a better understanding.

  • Evan Harris

    I am sure that you would not disagree that the earth has gone through and continues to go through many significant climate changes over the last billion years.
    Please explain how the current climate change is different and please tell me how any change we make today can stop the global climate change in any way.

  • Al

    I remember during the 1960’s when environmentalists were yelling about the coming ice age due to man’s interference with the environment. “We’ll no longer see blue skies after the 1970’s”, or “Ice will be common as far south as the northern US by the 1990’s”. Obviously nothing happened. 40 years later and the alarmists are yelling about global warming. These are CYCLES of nature that occur over thousands of years, not hundreds. It’s more political than environmental and that’s the bottom line.

  • Darrel

    People need to realize the earth has been going through extreme changes long before we had cars and were burning fossil fuels. Everyday all day every human EXHALEs CO2. So are we going to limit our breathing?

    If man is the cause of global warming then…

    HOW DID ALL THE SNOW AND ICE FROM THE ICE AGE MELT AWAY?????

  • seamus

    I think scientists and the world doesnt really understand global climate change and what is the real cause of it. Climate change has to be natural and nothing humans do will make any difference at all to the temp on earth – evan is right. Scientists blame humans and greenhouse gasses because they dont really understand earth and the sun and how it affects rising temp. There are no greenhouse gasses in the antartic where all the icebergs are melting away so how can humans be causing the ice bergs to melt. There is only one thing that can melt the icebergs and increase the temperature on earth and thats natural changes and changes in the sun causing an increase in heat from the sun. Look at the gobshite who invented the hockey stick that proves scientists havent a clue.

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  • http://www.diamondcutlife.org/ Alison Wiley

    I’ve given a lot of thought and study to global warming over quite a fewyears. I have an M.S. in counseling psychology, and one of the conclusions I’ve come to is that people who are still denying global warming is both real and human-caused may have a form of mental illness. I explain this further here: http://www.diamondcutlife.org/the-psychology-of-naysayers-on-global-warming/

  • Ryan Thomas

    I think this is a very good website because i am doing an assignment about climate change, and I got alot of my information from this website.

  • Dave

    20,000 yrs. ago there was a mile of ice on top of Burlington, VT. It has melted and the seas rose 120 meters since then. The rate of sea level rise during specific intervals was much greater than present rates of change in the sea level. Condemned if I shut down all fossil fuel usage that is 85% of the world’s energy and the sea keeps on rising anyway. Global coal consumption rose 3% in 2008. We do not have 2009 statistics yet.

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  • http://GeniusMinds*8* Joshua Stevens Honorie’ Carriere’

    May I ask to Why The Government that is current has not Even come up with the IDEA that NANO Tech. can be programmed to eat OIL in the GULF of MEXICO and ONCE THEY ARE FULL they become magnetized to be picked up by Magnets.

    Genius

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  • John Carey

    Several of us took a four-session class at Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The instructor was Dr. Bob Raynolds, Ph. D. A field field trip over the continental divide and through middle park region of Colorado opened our eyes, where vast stretches of pine slopes are ravished by bark beetles that killed trees. A primary purpose for some of us from now on has to be to spread awareness here in Denver.

  • kasubi Nyangahondi

    The role of enviroment is very important as human basic needs, thus any change to the environment being reduction or addition tend to affect both frola and fauna. Let’s work together in saving our planet as well as our lives.

  • Annabel Laver

    Global warming is naturally real and happens in nature (ice age) but humans are speeding it up

  • ana

    thank you all for leaving comets you helped out on a class asinment and i got the info i needed and sorry for spelling mistakes

  • tayyy

    Thank you every one who left there thought on this website I am doing an assignment on global warming!!!(boring)And this website helped alot!!:)

  • albertsonrich

    Nice blog, civilized discourse.

    I’ve been an amateur naturalist for about 35 years and have studied Climate Change through that prism. That doesn’t mean my opinion is more correct it just means that I come to my opinion from a different direction than does the climate science community.

    Understanding climate change is actually easier than we think. Just follow the oil and as you do, think about how carbon exchange works. Ther carbon cycle is composed of several “compartments” – hydrosphere (oceans), geosphere (outer crust and mantle of the planet), Biosphere (living things) and of course the atmosphere. All of the carbon on earth is divided up into these compartments and the carbon cycle very slowly shifts tiny amounts of carbon from one to the next in order to manage how each compartment operates. We know that adding or subtracting carbon to the ocean controls its acidity/akalinity. Of course adding or subtracting carbon from the atmosphere affects heat/cold. Although the natural movement of carbon between the compartments is a short term process – the changes in the total levels of carbon in each takes place in geological time (very slowly). For instance the atmosphere increases carbon at the rate of one half a part per million per century and declines at 1 part per million per thousand years. By burning fossil fuels we have increased the level of carbon 120ppm in about 300 years total (most of that in the last 60 years. You can see ther difference is dramatic.

    When you drill a hole in the ground and suck oil to the surface you essentially by-pass the carbon cycle because that process is normally done by volcanic venting but in comparatively tiny quantities. Once the extra carbon gets into the atmosphere the oceans try to absorb some of it but it makes the ocean more acid and the living things it contains cannot adapt quickly enough so the absorption rate begins to slow (already slowing now). The Biosphere absorbs some of the extra but the total amount is fairly limited because it uses up the avasilable water pretty fast. The rest of the carbon sucked through the straw (the vast majority) just sits in the atmosphere, increasing heat which in turn destabilizes the climate.

    That extra carbon “trapped” in the atmosphere will ultimately be shifted to the other compartments of the carbon cycle but the transfer will occur at geological speed, probably hundresd of thousands of years. Truth is, reducing your carbon footprint, while a wonderful thing to do, really won’t have any affect at all – even if you took it down to zero, tomorrow. If we are to survive this we will have to listen to our mother. She says “clean up your room and put everything back where it was.” To survive and time is short (perhaps two to three decades before the weather becomes so extreme it begins to dismantle our civilization faster than we can repair it) we will have to “scrub’ the CO2 out of the atmosphere and then “sequester” it back down below ground, away from the atmosphere.

    Check out the work of Klaus Lackner, Columbia University professor – he’s on the job. Hang on to your hat and good luck to us all.

  • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    @Albert — Thank you for the “user-friendly” explanation… very helpful!

  • albertsonrich

    Jeff, you are entirely welcome.

    I hope the real message came through. I’m nearly 80, with heart disease, so I’m probably not going to take the ride on the climate change roller coaster with you younger folks. I feel complicit in creating our circumstances because I did not scream and holler when Rachel Carson slapped us across the face with the reality that we were destroying the system that supports our life on this plnet.

    Now, another slap across the face but this time its your face, respectfully. If young people don’t “get” that they must force their goverment to develop the political will to begin the scrubbing and sequestration of CO2 (mentioned in earlier post) you simply are not going to make it. By my calculations you have 10 to 20 years, maybe 30, while heatcontinues expands the extremes of weather to levels we may not be able to imagine. I would undertake to explain how and why this is so in another post if you wish.

    Scrubbing and sequestration is going to cost a backbreaking amount of money and it will take a minimum of 20 years to complete. None of it will happen if a popular movement of the world’s citizens fails to develop to insist that government proceed as quickly as possible. I know, it’s easy to dismiss the rantings of an old fool – many do – perhaps the people of Egypt have sent us all a timely message. They believe they succeeded because they were able to transcend their fear.

  • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    Albert, we can use many of those kinds of slaps in the face… thank you for your perspective!

  • conner

    I think this is a little ridiculous, after all aren’t humans a part of nature and therefore isn’t any affect we have on the planet “natural” ?

    • http://Web ZahidEsmail

      i agree with jeff. pollution is not natural. it did not exist before our time. the earth was able to flourish and thrive on its own. Yet only in the past 200 years, we have managed to raise the greenhouse gas emissions so high that we are in fact melting our ice caps and glaciers. in the past 200 years, we have managed to use up so many resources, it would take 5 planets identical to earth just to sustain our lifestyles. even in the past 20 years, we have managed to help in the creation of the most natural disasters ever recorded within that time span, record- breaking temperatures, and most dramatic climate change in the history of the world. According to statistics, 2007 was said to be the next ice age. because of our actions, we have impacted the environment so much, we have counteracted the effects of an ice age. compared to the age of our planet, 200 years is a heartbeat. i don’t know about you, but i do not consider that to be “natural”.

  • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    @conner I’d argue we’re the only species that has the ability to act in a manner contradictory to natural systems. We’re unique creatures… in general, that’s a good thing, but we do have the option to take actions that run counter to ecological balance. Just in keeping with this post: what’s natural about digging up carbon that nature has sequestered and re-releasing it into the atmosphere?

  • tghw

    Is the Proposed Trans Global Highway a solution for population concerns and global warming?
    One tremendous solution to future population concerns as well as alleviating many of the effects of potential global warming is the proposal for the construction of the “Trans Global Highway”. The proposed Trans Global Highway would create a world wide network of standardized roads, railroads, water pipe lines, oil and gas pipelines, electrical and communication cables. The result of this remarkable, far sighted project will be global unity through far better distribution of resources, including including heretofore difficult to obtain or unaccessible raw materials, fresh water, finished products and vastly lower global transportation costs.
    With greatly expanded global fresh water distribution, arid lands could be cultivated resulting in a huge abundance of global food supplies. The most conservative estimate is that with the construction of the Trans Global Highway, the planet will be able to feed between 14 and 16 Billion people, just using presently available modern farming technologies. With a present global population of just under 7 billion people and at the United Nations projection of population increase, the world will produce enough food surpluses to feed the expected increased population for the next 425 years. Thomas Robert Malthus’s famous dire food shortage predictions of 1798 failed to take into consideration modern advances in farming, transportation, food storage and food abundance. Further information on the proposed Trans Global Highway can be found at http://www.TransGlobalHighway.com .

  • albertsonrich

    Just speculating about what seems like a lot of powerful earthquakes lately. Do you think it’s possible the extra weight of sea water coming from ice melt is exerting greater pressure on the tectonic plates and fault areas?

  • http://facebook.com meghan

    I am a sophomore in high school, and I am currently doing a report on Global Warming. I find every opinion and argument to be helpful. Although I am younger than many people here, I do resort to the side that Global Warming, is simply just a natural process. With the earth shifting all the time, it gives it opportunity for the sun to move closer and farther away creating climate changes, global warming and cooling. Correct me if I am wrong. I have a lot to learn in this life. I appreciate everyone’s input on this. It is all truly helping me learn.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Mabel-White/e/B004573BNC Mabel White

    I heard it is animal waste, and we really should use that for fuel.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Mabel-White/e/B004573BNC Mabel White

    Purdue chicken crap alone, near Chesapeake could probably run the city of Washington D.C.

  • Jeff

    Approximately 99.72% of the “greenhouse effect” is due to natural causes — mostly water vapor and traces of other gases, which we can do nothing at all about. Eliminating human activity altogether would have little impact on climate change.
    This is like saying I can affect sea level by not pisssing in the ocean. Global warming is a hoax.

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    • Francois Moutin

      Natural or Human?…
      The question itself seems to presuppose that humans are not a part of nature…

  • Conrad Barajas

    Look for JPL’s (Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratoy) findings in Solar Energy Output, it is not only the Earth that is warming up but also is Mars, Venus, Jupiter, the Moon, Pluto (Former ninth planet) etc., the entire Solar System! and this is part of a sun cycle that happens every 11 years, after 2012 the solar output will be dramatically decrease only to increase again over the next 11 years. I’m not saying that we are not playing our part, we ARE but not as much as we are being forced to believe, the convenience of the idea that Global Warming is almost 100% being caused by humans comes into play because of the taxation on businesses and persons in all first and third world countries (I.E. cars in Europe are being taxed for miles driven according to their CO2 exhausts, businesses and buildings are also being taxed for their carbon footprint and so on…). this is all about information, those JPL reports are not easy to find but anyone can find them.
    This is of course science and it could be wrong, but the taxation is very real!!
    I’m not telling you to pollute, just open your eyes people!
    Take care, love your humanity and other’s humanity and take care of our “Desert Island” called Earth, it’s the only home we’ve got!

    Here are a couple teasers:

    http://wakeup-world.com/2011/09/02/c-e-r-n-scientific-study-concludes-global-warming-is-caused-by-the-sun/

    http://seoblackhat.com/2007/03/04/global-warming-on-mars-pluto-triton-and-jupiter/

    Give it a thought, investigate and draw your own conclusions.

    C-Ya!

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    • http://XXXX ROGER MORAIS

      My opine on this is simple,keep on sucking all the oil all over this planet,which acts like a
      coolant in your car causing the planet to overheat like your car engine would with no oil
      to cool it,warm planet heats up the oceans, volcanoes erupt like the radiator in your car ,
      spewing ashes into the clouds causing acid rain back to earth killing plant life and poisoning our waters and fish.
      Give it some thoughts and logic kicks in and guess what?
      You’ll agree or disagree as I think it makes as much sense as other theories I’ve read.

  • Richard De’Ayh

    From one point of view it doesn’t matter what the cause . Fact is this planet is
    getting hotter . Even a proovable increase of 0.1 degree in 100 years is a huge amount.
    The scientists argue that it can decrease the same amount .However , how come the
    scientists can’t calculate what exactly is going on . They can find planets travelling at
    50 million miles an hour to black holes . What about the heat caused by nuclear reactors? The ultimate irony is that the people who make the the most noise about
    GW have the biggest carbon footprints as they jet about from one summit to the next.

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  • http://glowbullwarming.wordpress.com/ Earthling

    “Skeptics of climate science, however, have latched onto a number of natural phenomena, and attempted to argue that they’re primary global warming causes.”
    ……
    Incorrect, there is no “primary” cause of of Glowbull warming.

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