The primary human activity contributing to climate perturbation is the emission of fossil fuels. These emissions are produced through the combustion of coal, oil, and gas, processes that occur through prominent human activities such as production of electricity and cement, forms of transportation, and land-use changes. While these activities generate several products, the main release of fossil fuel emission is carbon dioxide (CO2). When CO2 is released, it remains in the atmosphere for significant periods and can block outgoing solar radiation. This blocked radiation is then reradiated back to Earth, warming the surface of the planet and producing what is known as the greenhouse effect. CO2 is currently considered the most significant greenhouse gas, largely because it is the primary gas emitted by humans; 7.8 petagrams (7.8x1015 grams) of carbon dioxide were emitted annually between 2000 and 2009 on average. The levels of certainty on the release and impacts of CO2 are high – fossil fuel emissions and the resultant CO2 alterations are some of the most studied proces...
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...e of the most mysterious factors in our system.
The climate system is massive and complex, and understanding its drivers is key to our survival. While we have gained significant comprehension in the past few decades, much of how the climate is changing and what is causing these changes is still not fully understood. Greenhouse gases and aerosols are important, but we have yet to draw a complete picture of how they are interacting with the climate and with one another. Further focus in both the scientific and political spheres is needed in order to not only reach conclusions, but to find solutions in time to save both our species and, potentially, life on this planet. While we are now certain that humans are a primary factor in global climate change, we still are not completely certain how and to what extent – and discovering the answers is of critical importance.
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