The Effect of Human Activities on Climate Change

free essayHuman activities have continued to influence the world climate negatively. Scientists believe that, since the discovery and increasing use of coal and other hydrocarbon products in the late 18th century, global temperatures have continued to rise. This situation is caused by the effect created by the increased carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere. Rise in global temperatures not only has a far-reaching effect on the environment but also causes climate change. Climate change has been experienced all across the globe over the past few decades, with numerous natural surprises, some of which were predicted by scientists while others were not anticipated at all. The problem is, thus, that science has continued to spell doom for the earth due to environmental degradation to a point that most people are ready to give up on the hope of redeeming the environment. It is the very time to study the other side of the story and inspire positive changes.

In the modern world, giving up and waiting for the worst to happen is similar to a time bomb. Such behavior is quite selfish because the future generations are put at risk by virtue of the current generation’s inactivity. Scientists may have their justifications by putting the blame on the fossil fuels and increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, but it is difficult to understand what justifications the society has for thinking it is too late to save the planet. The problems of today’s world are not purely scientific; they can be solved by numerous approaches that are simple and practical. Environmental degradation has started way before modern time; nevertheless, people delay decisions to protect the future generations from its effects.

Scientists may provide different facts and data to prove the current state of the environment, but their assumptions and calculations are not always accurate. This has been seen in the way some predictions have been rubbished with the passage of time. In this regard, the importance of practical solutions has been justified especially by environmental activists who advocate for mitigating measures instead of blaming and regretting, coupled with unrealistic, and long-term aspirations such as the elimination of the fossil fuels use.

Description of the Problem

In terms of the global warming subject, environmental degradation has been constantly named the major culprit because of its causes. What this means is that humankind is solely responsible for the negative changes in climate. This may, or may not be entirely true. In accordance with scientific research, however, the negative effects are irreversible, and the world has to learn to live without fossil fuel if any positive impact is to be made in order to avert the looming crises (Giddens 81). The scientists, however, cannot be accused of inactivity as they consistently immerse themselves in researches and experiments, as well as policymaking conventions aimed at convincing the rest of the world about the dangers of the human dependence on the fossil fuels. They are qualified to make their predictions and projections, which usually spell doom and spread numbing fear among the general population. Their solutions, on the other hand, are usually so big and long-term that they may seem unachievable.

On the other side of the environmental degradation discussion, the environmental activists are working hard to convince communities to embrace practical solutions such as reforestation and reclamation of the watersheds. These activists have had a positive influence on the environment with the numerous reforestation and swamp reclamation drives across the world. Thus, they are raising questions on the story about the way this global warming issue is being handled by the scientists. They question whether climate change is entirely a result of human activities, whether it is irreversible, and most importantly, whether there is any possibility that the damage can be undone by ceasing the pollution. In this regard, it is important to consider the environmental activists as people outside laboratories, thus capable of giving practical guidelines on how to affect the environment positively by simply playing one’s part. These individuals or organizations lead by example and are thus the most active participants in the fight against environmental degradation. Indeed, global warming is a problem, and the extent to which it can be realistically attributed to human activities is high.

Proposal for a Solution

As the name suggests, global warming is a worldwide problem. Currently, however, it has been clearly seen that the universal approach to matters of environmental degradation has not brought much fruit. Each nation has its own priorities; therefore, the environment is not being given the same amount of attention globally. What this means is that the scientific approach has not been practical, thus far. Ironically, it is well known globally that the main factor contributing to climate change is emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This issue is serious due to the fact that fossil fuels are the largest source of energy in most developed and developing economies. Scientists assert that China alone releases vast amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere per year. This rate is quite catastrophic and urgent steps must be taken to manage it effectively.

Consequently, the problem needs to be approached based on the urgency and relevance of the specific problem to the concerned parties. What this means is that the watersheds that are drying up need to be reclaimed based on the needs of the local populations while the forests that have been cut down need to be replanted based on the importance of its existence to the local communities.

This approach moves the stakeholders’ efforts from a generalized view to specialized projects that are short term and thus are both easily achievable and beneficial to the local communities. The sustainability of these projects depends greatly on the way they are perceived and implemented by the local communities. This fact puts these communities at the center of the environmental conservation campaign, thus, making the whole movement realistic and possible.

Justification for the Solution

Borrowing from the concept of the Tyranny of small decisions in Economics, it is important to note that the problem of environmental degradation can be easily approached in small units, just as it was caused mainly by small individual decisions that summed up in vast effects such as destruction of wetlands, as well as, burning and cutting down the forests (Urry 78). It has proven to be quite a challenge to get a large number of individuals to do the right thing, without having the right motivation for them. In most instances, the most effective motivation is a success story by people that they consider being under similar circumstances as themselves, and can thus relate well with their experiences as they understand their needs and problems. Using a cost-benefit analysis, the environmentalist approach to global warming carries more importance due to the following reasons.

Casual Approach to the Problem

One water tower at a time makes it possible to deal with the real problem. Water shortages may be a result of changing weather patterns, but humans must also be able to see that the earth can sustain itself if given a chance. In this case, giving a chance means cleaning up the polluted watersheds, reclaiming the swamps, as well as replanting the forests. All these actions, in their own specific ways contribute to the redemption of the planet.

The scientific approach suggests a universal agreement to follow specific guidelines when it comes to environmental conservation issues. These guidelines touch on subjects like minimum forest cover for each nation, and maximum greenhouse emissions, among others. This approach, thus, looks at the bigger picture, at the expense of being practical and relevant at the grassroots level. The people on the ground may have no influence on the amount of greenhouse emissions or the percentage of the forest cover in their country, but they for sure have a say in how many trees they can plant on their small piece of land.

Thus, the environmentalist approach provides a perspective that is directly comprehensible to the party that matters the most in terms of environmental conservation, and this party is the local community.

Practical Consideration with Regards to Projected Results

When starting a project on renewing a watershed, the most probable outcome would be a clean watershed with its original animal and plant composition. This is the best-case scenario for most rehabilitation drives. An alternative would be a modified composition in the watershed through the introduction of new animal and plant species that have proved to be beneficial in one way or another (Steinberg and VanDeer 42). This step can also be considered practical, as the people in the local communities can easily understand and support the idea.

The scientific approach, on the other hand, projects a restored level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Urry 107). This may be practical and very comprehensible to the learned individuals. Nevertheless, how to convince a local farmer to give up farming in a forest reserve in order to restore carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere remains a serious question. It may be difficult to communicate this idea to people who play the fundamental role in the fight for solving the global warming issue.

This means that the local communities may find it much easier to cooperate with the environmentalists than with scientists. In the first case, they can influence the expected outcomes with their actions. In addition, it will be difficult to assure the farmers that their sacrifices have paid off, given how complicated it is to explain the carbon dioxide story to an uninterested individual.

Beneficial to the Local Community

To renew a watershed, the environmentalist is likely to restore the community’s access to the water, as well as people’s possibilities to use it for domestic and commercial fishing, farming and even as a transportation mean. In doing this, the environmentalist approach will benefit the community directly by restoring their rights and dignity (Kutting 66). In the scientific approach, however, people are not in any way set to benefit unless from the eventual restoration of the ‘normal’ carbon dioxide levels. Motivation is the key issue when it comes to cooperation with both individuals and communities. The environmentalist approach provides motivation thus compelling the local population to support and participate in whatever measures are put in place to conserve the environment. The benefits provided are a motivation that eliminates the need for financial compensation.

Sustainability

When local communities are involved in the environmental conservation drives directly, they tend to develop a sense of responsibility and ownership for the project (Dryzek 213). This, however, happens only when they understand the significance of the project, and can see the positive effect it will have on their lives upon successful implementation. With the full support and enthusiasm of the local community, the project becomes sustainable and thus goes a long way to contribute to the eventual redemption of the planet.

Without an understanding from the side of the local communities, however, it is quite expensive if not impossible to maintain a project and bring it to its fruitful end. This means that only these community-based environmental conservation projects can actually solve the global warming issue. These projects require minimal supervision necessary for both implementation and maintenance given that the people around it are interested and willing to cooperate in order to get the best results possible.

Conclusion

Scientific research is important because it helps people prepare for any looming danger adequately. However, relying on scientific data for climatic prediction over the years has proven to be unreliable. The weather patterns are not as they were before. This, however, does not demean the importance of science in human lives. Scientists may have their justifications when they put the blame of global warming on the fossil fuels and increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, but the society should not be left thinking that it is too late to save the planet. The problems of today’s world are not purely scientific; they can be solved by various approaches that are simple and practical. Environmental degradation has started way before the modern times, but what people do to protect the future generations from its effects actually counts in terms of the expected outcomes.

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