Carbon dioxide, among other green house gases are naturally occurring. The green house effect/trapping of heat in Earth’s atmosphere is also naturally occurring. Warmed by the sun, our planet’s land and ocean surfaces constantly produce infrared radiation (heat). However, since the Industrial Revolution, there has been a lot of talk surrounding the use of carbon dioxide hurting our environment. The human population has been heavily reliant on the use of fossil fuels which exacerbates this issue of climate change. According to the video, “Climate 101,” we now rely on carbon-based fossil fuels to produce 85% of our energy, and humans produce up to 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Only 55% of this CO2 is absorbed by the ocean, land, and vegetation, while the rest is trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere causing an exponential increase in Earth’s temperatures. The biggest culprits to these numbers are fossil fuels, power plant and factories, and transportation. According to cilmate.gov, “Without this natural greenhouse effect, Earth’s average annual temperature would be below freezing instead of close to 60 degrees F.” Despite this seemingly positive process, the way society functions today is hugely detrimental to the condition of our planet. Not only will temperatures continue to increase, but an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere also means an excess of evaporation, leading to an excess of precipitation, which will have the potential to produce catastrophic storms.
Climate Central also raises an inconvenient truth about the climate reality the human population now faces. “The world has blown past the 400 million parts per million carbon dioxide milestone, and is unlikely to return below that threshold again in our lifetimes.” Now naturally growing plants in the northern hemisphere will decrease these parts per million slightly, but until humans no longer need to rely on carbon-based fuels, we will bring a “one-step forward” too many steps back.