Do Or Die: The Cause and Effect of Humans on the Climate

Jeffrey Caliedo and Karsen Cowan
October 31, 2017

An illustration of atmospheric carbon dioxide fluxuation -- climate change -- over the past 400,000 years. Courtesy of


With the recent bombardment of natural disasters, it is impossible to ignore climate change simply because we are all being affected. The change of the climate is consistently increasing toward a climax that appears infinite; natural disasters are growing larger, more frequent, and more powerful. Our earth is facing some of the most severe weather events ever recorded across the globe. It is facing severe floodings, such as the floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, killing thousands and leaving millions of people homeless. It is facing hurricanes that are category fives, tripling in size over the past decade. Hurricanes have left entire countries without power and two-thirds of their people without sustainable shelter.  

The reason behind these bombardments of natural disasters is because of humanity’s poor treatment of the Earth. Humans are the main cause of climate change with our burning of fossil fuels, our cutting down of trees, and our polluting of the soil in which we grow our crops. These acts have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years. Human influence on the climate system is what is causing greenhouse gases to be the highest in recorded history.

The problem is that the “concept” of global climate change is no longer a concept. Climate change is a reality that has clear, current effects. In this year alone, we have seen constant loss of sea ice, accelerating rising sea levels, more intense natural disasters, and longer, more intense heat waves.

Beyond today, the threat of climate change is forever continuing. As we progress into the future, we see even bigger and more drastic realities awaiting us. The potential future effects of global climate change include more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions and an increase in the number, duration and intensity of tropical storms. According to NASA and CNN, climate change will continue through this century and beyond. Temperatures will continue to rise and we will continue to see a change in precipitation patterns. National Geographic even goes as far as saying, “Wildlife research scientist Martyn Obbard has found that since the mid-1980s, with less ice on which to live and fish for food, polar bears have gotten considerably skinnier. Polar bear biologist Ian Stirling has found a similar pattern in Hudson Bay. He fears that if sea ice disappears, the polar bears will as well.” With the constant effects of climate change becoming more apparent daily, we are in need of immediate actions and future precautions.

Because the primary cause of climate change is the actions of humans, the solution is the same: human actions. Everyday, we can make steps towards a more progressive, cleaner planet Earth. One of the biggest ways to improve our climate problem is through limiting or controlling our transportation. According to the Vice President for Marketing of Terrapass, Adam Stein,  “Burning one gallon of gas creates 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, and the average car emits about six tons of carbon dioxide every year.” All humans carry a carbon footprint which is unique to each person on this earth. Six thousand pounds of carbon dioxide may not seem extreme to one person, but when you multiply that against the number of humans, animals, and activities that occur, the number would be outrageous. If we continue to proceed as we do today or even increase our “productivity”, the earth would soon become a scorched, lifeless desert. Millions would be impoverished and face diseases that could have been avoided if we took better care of this earth.

Simple things such as turning off your electronics, eating wiser, and not throwing trash out of a moving car can tremendously improve this Earth. By reducing your carbon footprint, we can emit less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Natural disasters would not be as bad if we took more consideration of our Earth’s wellbeing rather than profit or convenience. This is the only Earth we will ever have, and if we do not take care of it then life on Earth and Earth itself will cease to exist.