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Anthropogenic Influence on Climate Change Throughout History

The atmospheric climate is defined as the average weather pattern over a period of time as determined by the mean and variability of wind, temperature, and precipitation. Climate change occurs when there is a long-term alteration of the pattern in a specific region. The are many external forces, including human-induced transitions, volcanic eruptions, and solar variations that destabilize the weather. Scholars and ecological activists have been researching astronomical phenomena with an intention of understanding the causes and impact of such adjustments. The objective of this paper is to discuss the anthropogenic influence on climate change through history and adaptations during the glaciation period.

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Historical Anthropogenic Influence on Climate Change

The history of climate change can be traced from the time that the world began, although the impact of people’s lifestyle on weather has been varying with time. The temperature of the earth has been fluctuating the same as the radiation of the sun’s rays. During the early phanerozoic glaciation, there were some significant changes in the weather pattern that resulted in a noticeable expansion of the northern hemisphere. The current glaciation can be traced back to the period that followed, which was known as the Mesozoic era or Cenozoic greenhouse. The period was characterized by some widespread salinity of the seas and oceans as well as the polar ice. The other defining feature of this period was that it had sudden climatic spikes.

Next, human activities, which started during the industrial age, have the most significant effect on the climate. According to Peeters et al. (2019), the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by people over a period of time in the atmosphere causes anthropogenic accumulation. Similarly, Scafetta (2020) notes that from 1860 to 2013, the estimated net warming was 0.85 ± 0.05 ◦C and that there were periods with large fluctuations. The chemical composition and especially concentration of the CO2 are often used in determining the alliteration. The observation made by many people is that there is an increase in the carbon monoxide due to the ongoing disturbances within the natural environment.

Worthy of note, onset of anthropogenic climate change may have started earlier, but most scholars trace it to the period of intense industrial revolution. Particularly, the year it started was in 1784, after the invention of the steam engine by James Watt (Peeters et al., 2019). During the industrialization era, there was significant deforestation as steam was produced using heat from the woodfire. The gas wastage from the industry also started destroying the horizon layer and negatively affecting the ecosystem. The other significant changes at the time were in the agricultural field in which many people started domestication of crops and animals. For instance, Prestele et al. (2019) states that from 1850-2005 the rate of land use increased by 60%. As the economic activities increased, the air pollution also heightened, hence, interfering with the climate system.

The other significant era that the anthropogenic disturbance increased is before the World War (WW) I and immediately following the WWII. During this time, humans heavily invested in making weapons, both chemical and mechanical, that were used for fighting. The air emitted through the gunshots and the bombs significantly escalated the GHG. After 1945, when the Second World War ended, there was an influx in global population growth, increase in the consumption of fossil fuel, and intense economic development that intensified anthropogenic pressure (Peeters et al., 2019). In addition, there was increased waste from people and the use and burning of synthetic materials, which had a negative influence on the atmosphere.

The noticeable effects of the climate change, such as the destruction of the ozone layer, desertification, melting of the snow on hilltops, among other, became a concern to environmentalists. Resultantly, scholars started studying the possible causes of such destruction. In the 1960s, the Green Revolution began as people became conscious that their activities were causing harm to the environment (Peeters et al., 2019). The focus of most people was now on reducing the anthropogenic influences on the climate by adopting different strategies which were considered to enhance conservation. For example, industries started recycling and using clean energy, and there were pubic campaigns on climate change which made people consider ways of conserving the climate through their agricultural methods.

International collaborations in fighting the climate change have continued to reduce the anthropogenic effects, but it is proving difficult to make a big difference. Regrettably, the anthropogenic burden has continued to increase, as evident by the fact that in 2000, the CO2 was 90ppm compared to the preindustrial era, which was 280 ppm. (Seinfeld & Pandis, 2016). In 2005, the United Nations (UN) member states agreed that industrialized economies and countries will have individual targets of minimizing the greenhouse gas emissions (Peeters et al., 2019). When industries know that they are being observed, they control the policies because they understand that failure could result in tax penalties. Although there is still anthropogenic climate change, measures are now in place to minimize all human activities with such effects.

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Nonetheless, the anthropogenic impact of climate change has been more evident and rampant. News headlines on wildfire, skin cancer and poor growth of agricultural produce are just some of the recent developments in the area of climate change. For instance, in 2017 and 2018, California witnessed extreme wildfires ever to be recorded, as evident by complete destruction of 676, 312 ha, 85 casualties and 18, 804 structures destroyed (Park et al., 2018). There have also been rising sea levels, melting of mountain, desertification, among other evidences. The implication is that through the coming decades, more efforts should be put into combating global change.

Adaptations to Changes in the Glaciation Period

Glaciers serve as natural reservoirs through storing water during the winter and then releasing it in summer. The balance ensures that there is a constant supply of water in rivers and other water bodies at all seasons (Shannon et al., 2019). The mountains across the world have glaciers which have started shrinking due to the changes in atmospheric temperatures. These consequences are visible to people because they can see effects such as the snow falling down from the mountains. One of the effects is the rise in sea level, which interfere with the livelihood and homes of people whose residence is around the oceans and seas. The glacier retreats can also result in water flowing to the river and increasing its capacity, although the impact lasts only for a few years. The changes have continued to take place, affecting human survival, as discussed further under this subsection.

When there are destructions or changes in resource allocations due to nature competition, and emerges. People have to deal with such issues as decreased levels of water over time and constant melting of the ice, which causes flooding of the riverbank. The situation could be fatal if people were not prepared to relocate to safer places. Therefore, such experiences of alterations in glacierized water shade stimulate adaptive responses (McDowell & Koppes, 2017). Thus, “human adaptation capacities would succeed in maintaining climate–economy equilibrium even in a changing climate” (Woillez, 2020, p. 1083). For instance, the glacial effect made researchers to understand the impact of GHG on the challenges that they are facing, and they responded by reducing emission of the gases.

Mapping and providing marks for safe and risky zones in the coastal and mountainous regions is one way of adaptation. Relying upon past experiences of melting ice and other tests, the experts can identify regions that are prone to ice slides or spread of water from the sea. The results of their findings are then shared with the citizens so that they avoid construction in prone areas. The government authorities also do their communal planning using the maps. The real estate entrepreneurs also use the data in pricing the land so that mortgages are higher in regions where there is more risk of suffering from the consequences of the glacier.

In addition, regions that have glaciers use it as a tourist attraction site to generate income. One of the approaches is through charging the visitors who come at the site to learn geography or any other purpose. Some countries are also using the melting and flooding of the water in the river to generate hydro-electric power for residents. Such initiatives are effective in enhancing the economy of people living around the glacier prone localities. The only disadvantage of this strategy is that it is a short-term fix that cannot resolve the root problem of anthropogenic change.

Notably, there are some significant limitations to adaptations of human beings during such natural phenomena. In some cases, there are unintended consequences of the coping due to interruptions of the ecosystem. In most cases the planning is “reactionary rather than anticipatory, that most adaptations are carried out at the community level” (McDowell & Koppes, 2017, p.4). The implication is that by the time the changes are made there are significant losses. The reason why having a good adaptation plan is difficult for most people is because the glaciers are often complex and multifaceted and may have both the negative and the positive consequences. Furthermore, the responsibility of making plans on how to cope in the case of glaciers cannot be assigned to any person or organization.

To have better plans for the future, it is vital to have a module to follow when strategizing adaptation. According to McDowell & Koppes (2017), there are three primary principles that should be considered by future planners. This includes paying attention to specific conditions of the watershed, consideration of the human dimension of the change, and understanding the socio-cultural dynamics. Through the lens of those guidelines, it becomes easier to see the complexities and make long-term solutions. Private-public corporation is also important given that the local communities have a better understanding of the consequences while the govern funds the necessary projects.

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Changes in Social Concept

The attitude of people on the issue of climate change differs significantly from one person to the next. However, there are factors that may majority of people to have an almost similar perspective on the topic. For example, when there are constant campaigns and creating of awareness against GHG then people will be more compelled to bear similar values. Likewise, when the focus of the society is for people to be wealthy then the issue of climate change will be a secondary concern. The implication is that in the perception of people after the WW2 when the primary focus was to recover the economy is different from those of people who have experienced the effect of climate change. As stated by “perceived social consensus can be a powerful agent in shaping and changing people” (Lewandowsky et al., 2019, p.146). The consecutive paragraphs discuss changes in social concepts of people pertaining to the climate change.

During the industrial and agricultural evolution, the people did not even recognize the effects it will have on future generations. They did not have the benefit of being told that earning money and gaining assets is not the only important goal in life. Even the scientists and the geniuses of the time were only focused on the inventions to make work easier. Resultantly, the people were not thinking about the possible consequences of their actions on climate. The social concept at the time was thus characterized by ignorance and oblivion.

During WW1 and WW2, the characteristic that defined most of the social group was economic development. Most countries had used a lot of resources during the Wars, while their assets were also being destroyed. The other consequence of the battle was that very few people could go to work or even do the business. When fighting finally came to an end, the presidents and other leaders were determined to restore everything that had been lost. Most of the primary focus at the time was only how to restore the economy. Consequently, the people’s primary focus was to develop their nation even if it meant overworking the factories and producing more of the GHG (Seinfeld & Pandis,2016). The impact that was noticeable at first was the air pollution and its consequences on human health and the interference of the food web.

Still, business models and successes were judged primarily based on the financial reports. The social focus meant that companies used shortcuts that would guaranty the most monetary returns. The climate was not perceived to be of a higher priority, although the consequences of the air pollution were noticeable. The social interaction within the organizational environment did not encourage people to register their complains or even give ideas. People only worked in their area of specialization, and the hierarchical authority was common.

When environment researchers started noticing changes in the weather patterns and did studies to establish the causes. It was during this time that many publications were made establishing that there is a direct relationship between the GHG emissions and the climate changes, such as the destruction of the ozone layer leading to increased rays from the sun. The discovery led to concerns and panic on the issue of global warming in schools and other institutions. Organizations were pressured to adopt the strategy of corporate social responsibility. The pressure on the businesses has motivated organizational leaders to minimize their carbon emissions so as to be well branded in the market.

In recent times, social media platforms are being used to advocate for conservation of the climate through such things as recycling and use of synthetic materials as well as use of clean energy. Many people want to be perceived as being mindful of the weather. For instance, some farmers have gone back to started using organic farming the traditional way. There are also some contractors who specializing in green building to minimize consumption of fossil fuel. The public is now united across every sector and country to reverse the impacts of past GHG emissions and prevent future emissions

Conclusion

Anthropogenic influence on climate change is real and has been occurring for centuries. The most remarkable periods are the era of industrial revolution, the time after the World Wars, when the focus on economic development was given priority at the expense of the environment. This trend changed from the 1960s: scholars established that there was a correlation between the GHG emissions and the global warming. Glacial effect was also a consequence as the ice melted and water levels were raised, causing displacement and other adaptation. Evidently, the effort taken in minimizing the carbon emissions is significantly influenced by social attitudes towards the topic. The trend has been characterized by people moving from being completely ignorant to understanding the link and then taking individual initiatives to make positive changes. It is apparent that significant harm has already been incurred, but with knowledge, unity, and determination, humans can protect the climate.

References

Lewandowsky, S., Cook, J., Fay, N., & Gignac, G. E. (2019). Science by social media: Attitudes towards climate change aremediated by perceived social consensus. Memory & Cognition, 47(8), 1445-1456. Web.

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McDowell, G., & Koppes, M. (2017). Robust adaptation research in high mountains: Integrating the scientific, social, and ecological dimensions of glacio-hydrological change. Water, 9(10), 739. Web.

Park W., A., Abatzoglou, J. T., Gershunov, A., Janin Guzman‐Morales, Bishop, D. A., Balch, J. K., & Lettenmaier, D. P. (2019). Observed impacts of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire in california. Earth’s Future, 7(8), 892-910. Web.

Peeters, W., Bell, D., & Swaffield, J. (2019). How new are new harmsreally? climate change, historical reasoning and social change. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 32(4), 505-526. Web.

Prestele, R., Arneth, A., Bondeau, A., Nathalie de Noblet-Ducoudré, Pugh, T. A. M., Sitch, S., Stehfest, E., & Verburg, P. H. (2017). Current challenges of implementing anthropogenic land-use and land-cover change in models contributing to climate change assessments. Earth System Dynamics, 8(2), 369-386. Web.

Scafetta, N. (2021). Reconstruction of the interannual to millennial scale patterns of the global surface temperature. Atmosphere, 12(2), 147. Web.

Seinfeld, J. H., & Pandis, S. N. (2016). Atmospheric chemistry and physics: From air pollution to climate change. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Shannon, S., Smith, R., Wiltshire, A., Payne, T., Huss, M., Betts, R., Caesar, J., Koutroulis, A., Jones, D., & Harrison, S. (2019). Global glacier volume projections under high-end climate change scenarios. The Cryosphere, 13(1), 325-350. Web.

Woillez, M. Giraud, G., & Godin, A. (2020). Economic impacts of a glacial period: A thought experiment to assess the disconnect between econometrics and climate sciences. Earth System Dynamics, 11(4), 1073-1087. Web.

Appendix 1: Temperature Anomalies over the Years

Temperature Anomalies over the Years

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