Discovery Science: Climate Change – Climate Factor Mankind

Earth Science: Climate Change – Climate Factor Mankind

The Earth’s climatic system changes slowly. The climate trends we see today were triggered partially by events that happened decades ago.

Natural processes lead to constant climatic changes on Earth. However, since the industrial revolution human activity has been a new factor to consider.

Based on past trends, it seems that historical climate data for recent centuries makes sense only if human activity is factored in—though it may not outweigh natural causes.

Do humans affect climate?

In the last 150 years, pollution of the atmosphere by humans has been increasing. Because the climate reacts slowly, it is uncertain whether these emissions are already affecting the Earth. However, the demand for food, housing, and energy is likely continue to rise and negatively affect the environment.

Depending on the extent of the impact, the protection of the Earth’s climate may demand far-reaching political, economic, and social changes.

Industrial nations: leaders or perpetrators?

Industrial nations consume nearly 75-80 percent of the fossil fuels burned each year, and they are responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, less-developed countries suffer because they lack the resources to handle natural disasters. For these reasons, industrialized countries share the responsibility of reducing emissions.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol marked the first step toward international climate protection. Some of the solutions may include using renewable energy sources and changing public policy toward motor vehicles.

Five minutes to midnight

Even if current emissions stopped completely, it would take decades for carbon dioxide and other gases to return to the levels they were at before the industrial revolution. Reducing emissions may be the only way to prevent a possible climatic catastrophe, but the outlook is poor:

The United States, one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide, has rejected the Kyoto Protocol. Meanwhile, industrial expansion in China and India continues to generate even more emissions.


The UN Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent compared to their levels recorded in 1990.

This is viewed by many as a milestone in climate protection; however, many critics call it a “drop in the bucket” as long as high-emission industrial heavyweights, such as China and the U.S., resist the mandate.

Also, some scientists question the effectiveness of requesting the reduction of carbon dioxide only.