The debate between whether or not climate change is caused by humans
A reason why climate change is a controversial topic is because some believe it is caused by human activities, and others believe it occurs naturally. Those who stand by the human-caused claim suggest that this is evident through our activities that cause carbon dioxide emissions. Those who stand by the natural occurring claim suggest that Earth has endured global warming and climate change before, and our climate is just a part of a natural climate system.
Those who believe climate change is caused by human activity defends this claim by explaining our carbon dioxide emission. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, climate change is caused by humans because “We’re the ones who burn fossil fuels and clear trees that absorb carbon dioxide, sending heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere”. This correlates to global warming. Natural factors are not ignored, however those on this side of the argument claim that human activities play a role in climate change too.
Those who believe climate change is not caused by humans, believe it is caused by natural occurrences instead. The European Foundation suggests that there have been warmer periods on Earth before carbon dioxide levels increased, and significant changes in climate have occurred before. Dr. Roy Spencer suggests that climate change could be a part of the climate system and caused by “chaotic fluctuations in atmospheric and oceanic circulation systems [which]can cause small changes in global average cloudiness”. He also suggests that other influences, like human activities, are not necessary to cause climate change.
Both of these arguments show a logical appeal. The arguments defending that climate change is caused by human activities explain that our use of fossil fuels and deforestation is associated to global warming. This is reasonable because fossil fuels emit heat-trapping gases that would warm the Earth like putting on a blanket would warm your body. Deforestation correlating to global warming is also reasonable because trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases, and the less trees there are the less gas that gets absorbs if the burning of fossil fuels continues. The first argument defending that climate change is natural explains that there have been global warming and climate change instances on Earth before. This is reasonable because if these instances occurred before without human influence, then it could be happening again. The second argument defending the same claim uses reasoning through a natural system, the climate system. This argument may not be as strong as the first one because it does not give evidence that atmospheric and oceanic circulation are the only factors that cause climate change.
Some believe climate change is caused by humans while others believe it is caused by nature. This debate shows that climate change is controversial. Its controversy matters because it shows where we stand on the issue, and why certain policies in favor of one side or the other do not get approved. Implementing environmental friendly policies, like requiring companies to properly dispose their waste, would most likely be in favor of those who believe climate change is caused by humans because those who believe it occurs naturally would think that these policies are unnecessary since the climate is bound to change anyway. Those who defend the claim that climate change is natural will most likely not put in the same efforts to stop or slow it down as those who believe it is caused by our own actions. For example, there are already efforts that go into fighting global warming through renewable energy resources we use like wind and solar power. Each side of the debate would come with its own level of importance, which would determine the efforts being made towards climate change. However, it is important to acknowledge that the climate is changing and whether you believe it is caused by nature or humans, we would all need to adapt eventually.
Environmental Defense Fund. 9 ways we know humans triggered climate change. New York, New York: Environmental Defense Fund; n.d. Accessed 25 October 2017. Available from: https://www.edf.org/climate/9-ways-we-know-humans-triggered-climate-change
Meredith, Charlotte. Express (UK). 100 reasons why climate change is natural. Express Newspapers: [published 20 November 2012; citeed 25 October 2017]. Available from: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/146138/100-reasons-why-climate-change-is-natural
Spencer, Roy. Global Warming. Global Warming: Natural or Manmade?. Roy Spencer Ph.D: n.d. Accessed 25 October 2017. Available from: http://www.drroyspencer.com/global-warming-natural-or-manmade/
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Causes of Climate Change. United States Environmental Protection Agency: [last modified 27 December 2016; cited 25 October 2017]. Available from: https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-change-science/causes-climate-change_.html