Human Impact on Climate Term Paper

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Human Impact on Climate

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In the past decade, both world history and the world landscape have been transformed by various natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tsunamis', earthquakes, and unseasonably warm winters. Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth's history, and scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century (AGU, 2003). However, not all of these changes can be attributed to "global warming," as there are many other changes in climate that affect natural lands and many species of wild animals. Hand in hand with these land and climate transformations are new advances in technology that have enabled humankind to cultivate new growth while at the same time preserving the natural climate of an area. A review of the literature indicates that the global climate is changing and human activities are contributing to that change. Scientific research is required to improve our ability to predict climate change and its impacts on countries and regions around the globe. Scientific research provides a basis for mitigating the harmful effects of global climate change through decreased human influences (e.g., slowing greenhouse gas emissions, improving land management practices), technological advancement (e.g., removing carbon from the atmosphere), and finding ways for communities to adapt and become resilient to extreme events (AGU, 2003). This paper will analyze and discuss the human impact on climate. It will also examine the prospects of predicting and improving changes in the climate caused by human activity.

Term Paper on Human Impact on Climate Assignment

Changes to the Climate Caused by Human Activity great deal of scientific research has noted the harms to the environment caused by human activity. The majority of these harmful activities have had a profound impact on the overall climate. The climate of an area includes the temperature, weather, water levels, and overall air quality of an area. Human activity such as garbage dumping, urbanization and even artificial restoration of an area have contributed to negative climate patterns. In response to these harms, new plans for growth and expansion that have "environmentally friendly" goals have been initiated throughout the United States as well as other parts of the world. "Smart growth" has captured the imaginations of citizens, planners, environmentalists, and policymakers in an attempt to reverse the harmful effects of mankind. This evolving approach to land development promotes a mix of residential, commercial, and recreational uses while preserving green space and providing a variety of transportation choices. New land growth has traditionally been tested through the use of various forms of land surveys in order to establish the legal definition of a piece of land and to determine how the facility will interact with the terrain. Smart growth appeals to cost-conscious communities by maximizing the use of existing infrastructure, such as highways, sewer systems and every type of public service. It also protects air and water quality by conserving undeveloped land and offering alternatives to automobile travel that reduce traffic congestion and the number of vehicle miles traveled. The challenges of launching smart growth strategies in rural areas are not well understood mostly because smart growth is perceived to be most suitable for areas of dense population. One of the most important challenges to smart growth is the pressure on landowners to sell large, contiguous areas of open space to developers, both to avoid rising taxes and make a great profit. These land sales destroy both scenic areas and resource-based economies built on farming, ranching or forestry and increase air and water pollution.

The preservation of wetland forests and related areas has been a recent topic of improving or reversing the negative impacts on the climate caused by humans. Wetlands are lands of transition between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water. Historically, wetlands have often been regarded as useless land; for examples, the American government has actively encouraged development of these areas. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, more than 100 million acres, or 54% of American wetlands have been destroyed (U.S. Department of the Interior, 1973). One of the major issues facing ecosystem restoration and management is the availability and distribution of clean, fresh water. For example, the increasing human population and natural forests or wetlands compete with each other for water resources. This is the result of urbanization and the agricultural and tourism industries. Natural forests and wetlands have also been harmed by a lack of garbage dump regulations in the 1950's. Millions of tons of waste were dumped on more than 1,000 acres of natural wetlands in the United States, and rainfall that causes water to seep through the trash picking up contaminates discharges into the wetlands and ground water. In recent years, ground water and stream water testing has shown signs of carcinogenic PCBs, metals, pesticides and other toxins. Thus, there are many activities conducted by humans that have negatively and harmfully altered the climate of the world. However, improvements in this area have been a recent topic initiated by "green" organizations and other concerned about natural preservation.

Improving Changes in the Climate

Although the human impact on climate has been negative for the large part, there are positive predictions and prospects for improving changes in the climate caused by human activity. Technological advancements can be implemented to solve and analyze problems that have gone unnoted in the past. For example, technology can be used for wildlife monitoring of medium or large animals and even birds. The application of these technologies can assist researchers in determining things such as traffic affects on selected species. This analysis of traffic and animal movement is done over multiple time scales because some animals may not respond immediately to traffic, but instead may respond to longer term changes in average traffic levels or in types of vehicles (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2007). As a result, land surveyors can analyze all of the data affecting wildlife patterns before beginning urbanization projects. If the traffic patterns conflict with the wildlife, than the proposed project would not be a suitable idea for the land. Groups interested in land preservation, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and NOAA Fisheries are interested in not only preservation but also restoration.

Technology could also be used in fully determining the condition of transforming wetlands into urbanization projects. Wetland management potentially alters the composition, age, and configuration of natural wetlands. If a principal objective of sustainable wetland management is to maintain natural patterns of biodiversity, then it is important to characterize natural patterns, and to study the effects of altering natural wetland composition and configuration on wildlife response. In examining the status of the wetlands, technology could be used to assess the effects of logging on wildlife habitat. Birds are a wild species of any wetland environment; spatial bird habitat models need to be developed and tested in relation to the wetland environment. Various methods of technology could be used to test spatial habitat models that are sensitive to various forestry practices, such as dispersed block cutting, progressive clear-cuts, and emulating natural disturbance. Aerial surveys could be used to indicate that natural wetlands support as many or more birds than the artificial wetlands. Aerial survey could note conditions associated with periods of high rainfall that may increase habitat available to aquatic birds in some portions of the wetland area and affect bird numbers. These surveys could also be used to monitor habitat changes that may produce exposed fish and mudflats, increasing the number of wading birds. Other types of technology could monitor species and water levels to determine the impacts to these natural areas caused by human activity.

Finally, a review of the research indicates that the prospects for improving changes in climate caused by humans are positive, as long as certain measures are taken. A review of the literature indicates that remediation and restoration can be assigned to one of three general categories: (1) engineered remediation, (2) biologically-based remediation, and (3) restoration (University of Georgia, 2006). Engineered remediation processes include the controlled alteration of impacted ecosystems in such a manner as to reduce contaminant migration, bioavailability, and receptor exposure. Examples of engineered remediation efforts include: redox manipulation to enhance biodegradation of organic contaminants and/or the solid phase partitioning of redox sensitive inorganic contaminants, the addition of contaminant-specific sorbents or stabilizing amendments to soils/sediments, and the development and evaluation of physical and/or institutional barriers to contaminant migration and receptor exposure (University of Georgia, 2006). According to the University of Georgia (2006), bioremediation, which emphasizes the roles of microorganisms in remediation, has been used successfully at many sites for organic contaminants. Restoration, or the process of revitalizing degraded ecosystems, is an also an important part of remediation. Restoration involves the return of ecosystem attributes, including species composition, structure, and ecosystem functions. Finally, an understanding of basic ecological processes and their application in restoration of desirable… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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