Home Climate ChangeClimate Change Explained for Dummies
Climate ChangeBy Joe Burgett -

Right now, climate change is a worldwide problem that is affecting the planet at a major rate. We know, we know…you don’t want to buy into it, right? After all, these climate scientists might be lying to us all just to sell books or get grants to continue to stay employed. However, this is incredibly untrue and it is more than just climatologists that have found the climate rising at a large rate. Several others such as NASA also backed the indisputable evidence regarding it.

They along with several other governments and agencies agree. This has been the case under numerous, different administrations. Most people now agree that the climate is changing. The only real things worth debate are our role in it all, what the change has or will cause, and how we can try to fix the problem. To do anything worthwhile here, you first need to understand what climate change is. We’re here to help!

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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The Role Carbon Dioxide Plays

Greenhouse Gas, Carbon Dioxide, also known as CO2, has a major role to play in all of this. We actually need CO2. We know, this can be quite odd to hear due to so many seemingly wanting to hate on it. However, we as humans need it for multiple reasons. Interestingly, we actually blow CO2 out of our own bodies as we breathe. Blowing out CO2 is not much of a problem at all. In fact, the Earth needs CO2 in its atmosphere to properly keep the Earth heated at a normal rate.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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We as humans need the Earth to be at a proper temperature worldwide to live. Animals need this just as much as we do. As a result, carbon dioxide assists with this heating. However, a little might be needed but A LOT is not. Think of it as food. We need some food to live, but if you keep eating and never stop, you’re going to have a lot of problems. Therefore, when CO2 is found in gasoline, coal, and numerous other overused products…it can lead to problems.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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The Role Methane Plays

Another Greenhouse Gas, Methane, we also need in our environment. Yet it’s over 25 times more powerful than CO2, making it much better at heating specific areas with very little level differences. The problem occurs when it’s just too much. We do have Methane in several natural areas such as in wetlands or marshes. It’s also often found below ground and under the seafloor. Those natural forming areas of methane are usually referred to as Methane Clathrates. You might also see it within arctic ice.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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Once methane escapes its captive ice or liquid form, it will then become atmospheric methane. This is the stuff that’ll affect our global air temperatures. Yet methane has increased far more due to being involved in natural gas used in the home, as well as being found in septic tanks or sewers worldwide. Wastewater treatment utilizes methane as well as oil and coal mining on top of this. Behind CO2, the biggest reason for global temperature increases is clearly the overuse of methane.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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Greenhouse Gases

There are three Greenhouse Gases outside Carbon Dioxide and Methane. They are Water Vapor (H2O), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), and Ozone (O3). These are the very gases responsible for the Earth’s heating and sometimes the lack of them can lead to cooling. It is not just Earth that has greenhouse gases. We’ve also been able to track their roles on both Venus and Mars as well as one of Saturn’s Moons, Titan. You can find CO2 along with Water Vapor in Volcanic gases.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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Nitrous Oxide is basically Nitrogen and Oxygen, which then pair up. It will be found in most pressurized metal canisters yet it’s also found on land in bacteria within the soil and in oceans naturally forming. Its main job in the atmosphere is controlling ozone within the stratosphere. Ozone is naturally forming but man uses it in some form in bottled water, air purification, cooling towers, etc. Of course, 90% of it will be in the Stratosphere around 6 to 10 miles above the Earth’s surface. We truly need some proper Ozone levels, as it protects us from violent sun rays.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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What Is Global Warming?

A lot of people tend to misunderstand what Global Warming is, as it’s often linked with climate change as if it’s the same thing. They are two different terms. Global Warming is simply the long-term heating of the Earth’s climate, mostly since the pre-industrial period. These numbers specifically are targeting numbers since about 1850. Global Warming, in this case, follows what humans have done to cause the increased temperatures. This will be important to remember, by the way.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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When scientists look at this, they are following the Earth’s global surface temperature. In this, we know that since the pre-industrial period that human activities have led to a global rise of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. This number has been increasing by 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit every decade! When following the Earth’s own normal climate changes comparing it to man, we know that man has caused most of the rise since at least 1950.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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What Is Climate Change?

As referenced, this differs from global warming in terminology. Climate change is the long-term change in the average weather patterns that now define Earth’s global climate. This means that it also tracks all local and regional numbers, which is why you might see different areas that seem to have other problems that some do not. We’ll get to those soon. While most of the material we see today follows how man is affecting climate, that is not the complete history of climate change.

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There are other changes that happen to the Earth beyond man’s role. In their observations on the Earth’s climate, scientists will observe ground, air, and space to follow and study past, present, and future changes. Since numerous things will be caused by climate change, it is important to track. In fact, it is the tracking scientists have done that has pushed for legislation to be made in many countries to help battle the symptoms of the change. Some of which have been life-saving.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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Other Major Climate Changes In The Past

We have a long history of changes in the Earth’s climate. This tends to be used by climate apologists to show how the current changes are only a result of the Earth’s normal changes. However, many of the biggest changes were caused by things that were not truly the Earth’s fault. The major Ice Age that killed off the dinosaurs was caused by a massive meteor hitting the planet. Another random occurrence happened between 1650 to 1715 AD, which has been called the “Little Ice Age.”

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This came as a result of extremely low solar activity in the Northern Hemisphere as well as cooling from volcanic aerosols. In this case, major cooling occurred. Yet four times now, the Earth has heated up heavily. Those periods are referred to as the “Greenhouse Earth.” Since then, we’ve had several periods when cooling occurred. Every time the Earth heated, a cooling stage happened. This is key because the Earth never overdid itself. There was always a balance.

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What Of Another Grand Solar Minimum?

There are some who believe that another Grand Solar Minimum will come along to help with our climate change issue. The last time one happened was around the time of the Little Ice Age between 1650 and 1750. Usually, when these happen, it is due to very low solar activity. As a result, things cool down a great deal from even normal temperatures. In that case, one would be experiencing global cooling over global warming.

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However, what many people fail to understand is that during the last Grand Solar Minimum, we were not using fossil fuels in an extreme fashion. The Industrial Revolution did not take place for around another 100 years!! Since the current climate change is a direct result of carbon dioxide and methane, it does not matter if we have lower solar activity. The Earth would still be heating up from its norm due to fossil fuel usage. Once the minimum ends, the normal solar activity would come back. Now, it returns with our fossil fuel damage being felt far more.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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Weather vs Climate

A lot of people tend to confuse weather and climate as if to say they are the exact same thing. You might see people bring in a snowball from the outdoors and say “well, if this is here, clearly the Earth isn’t getting warmer.” However, this is flawed, ignorant logic to use for even the biggest climate change deniers. Climate is like a steady line that goes gradually up or down depending on the situation. Meanwhile, the weather is erratic and will go drastically up and down just because.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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This is also why we still have seasons and why the further north or south you get, the colder it will eventually become. This is why humans tend to live in the median sections because temperatures and even weather patterns will be relatively normal. Think of it like a man walking a dog. The man will stay in a relatively normal line pattern while the dog walks all over and explores. Climate is the man and the dog is representative of the weather.

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What’s The Big Deal About All Of This Anyway?

We get it, climate change may not seem like that big of a deal to some people. You see that only a few degrees have gone up from what experts believe we should be at. A few degrees seems like nothing, so why is there so much controversy around just a few degrees? First, it’s actually not just a few degrees. Climate, again, is not the weather. When the climate changes even a fraction, weather changes along with it.

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This is key to remember because the weather will be dictated by what happens in the Climate. Essentially, if the climate goes up one degree, then the overall Earth is going up with it. This small change will have a domino effect. It might normally be 70 degrees in your town this time of year… but now it’s 80. It might normally be 20 degrees in the winter, now it’s 35. That little change now takes localized or regional temps up. The latter is the biggest issue. 32 degrees Fahrenheit is freezing weather, so by going up to 35 degrees, you remove that. Now, imagine temps going up in the Arctic the same way.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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As Temperatures Rise, Ice Melts And Water Lines Move With It

When you look at the Arctic Ice, it is important that it eventually melts in time. However, you’re only wanting this to happen in short stints. Snow and other precipitation will come and then freeze normally. This is a good thing because the more that freezes, the less that will get into the water before it needs to be present. Sadly, the ice in both Arctic areas has been melting far faster and more often than it should. A mere few degrees could cause this even if it’s still below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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In fact, one of the most critical moments happened in 2020 when in the first half of the year, Siberia alone experienced temperatures between five and nine degrees Fahrenheit. Normally, they’d be well under zero degrees. Also, this happened between January and June, where regardless of hemisphere, cooler temps should be present. What does all of this mean? It means that the more ice melts at a faster pace, the more water lines move up. Meaning, less land for humans slowly but surely.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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Sea Creatures Are Affected

Perhaps the biggest place affected by our current climate change is most certainly the sea. In fact, if you ask experts, they’ll also say it’s the sea that is seeing the biggest changes. This is key for sea creatures on Earth. Some move around a lot like birds during certain points throughout the year. They too like to live in areas where temps are perfect for them. Due to temperature changes, they have moved further and/or more often.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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Some have even chosen to make specific areas their new homes. This disrupts the current ecosystems present in those areas drastically. It can mean less food for some animals. Even worse, it can mean larger predators such as sharks will attack prey they likely would never come in contact with. While creatures must eat to survive, smaller species move into places to better protect themselves. Some even develop evolutionary assets to help them. When things move too fast, fewer changes will occur and that can wipe out an entire species as predators pick them off or take their normal food supply.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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The Wallace Line Is Now Violated

Speaking of evolutionary changes, one of the men who came up with the evolution theory was Alfred Russel Wallace. He came to the same conclusions as Charles Darwin at the same time, just in different ways. One of the most important things Wallace came up with was The Wallace Line. While his line was not technically a place, it was meant to be a separation point between different sectors of the world. For example, his initial concept took place in the Malay Archipelago.

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It was able to show a clear separation between how things looked and operated between Asia and Australia. Essentially, fauna and animals seemed to pick this line that neither crossed very often. The Western Portion showed proof of creatures that connect to the Asian territory while the East showed more Australian connections. Yet now there is a high crossover, which is leading to an entire disruption of normal evolutionary concepts. The Wallace Line, while a true concept, is now becoming obsolete due specifically to climate change.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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Even Mankind Is Having To Adjust Temperature Wise

While the 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit body temperature scale was meant as an average for a human being, it was never going to be something that every single human connected to. Some will naturally run higher in the 99 degrees range while others naturally run lower in the 97 degrees range. However, more and more people are seemingly navigating from the 98.6 average to the 97 degrees sector. In fact, temps of 97.3 to 97.9 are becoming quite common across the planet.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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Our temperatures actually do change throughout the day. It is at its lowest in the morning while at its highest by the evening hours. Temps also can vary regarding sex, age, and if a person is sick or not. This we know. Studies on body temperature have been going on since the 1800s. However, one study from the Mid-1900s to 1999 concluded that body temps were lowering on average. This was confirmed in studies conducted on thousands of people in 2016 and 2017. Many believe body temps are lowering for humans to adapt to the warming climate. Yet some believe thermometers are just more accurate today.

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Climate Change Is Also Responsible For Severe Weather Issues

While weather severity is always going to be an issue regardless of our climate, the amount of problematic weather issues has risen drastically. Things like Hurricanes and Tornadoes are usually caused by the same issues. Hurricanes form over warm ocean water when warm moist air is replaced by cooler air. The cool air will warm and begin to rise, causing a cycle in the clouds. Eventually, wind speed picks up and you get a Hurricane. Tornadoes are similar.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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They form when warm humid air meets with cold dry air. If the cold air is dense, it will push over warmer air and produce a thunderstorm. When warmer air rises within colder air, it will cause an updraft and that can produce a tornado. Due to climate change, warmer air is forming around a lot more. Even slight cold air meeting with warm air can cause both hurricanes or tornadoes. Therefore, climate change is clearly causing these as well as storms to become more common worldwide.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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The Real Acid Rain and Snow In Asia

If you live in the West, it’s likely that you’ve never experienced the lovely acid rain or snow that can happen in Asia. In case you’re wondering, the acid rain or snow is most certainly due to pollution being so high that it has a direct effect on the local weather. When we reference “acid,” we are not discussing the science fiction version. Rain is acidic regardless, but it becomes even more acidic when pollution gets into the air and into the clouds.

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Usually, when this type of rain or snow comes down, it’ll appear orange. Some of the most common places to see this type of stuff is in China and Russia (sometimes Eastern-Europe), as well as some of the surrounding countries. One such issue took place in Siberia years ago when orange snow hit the ground. When tested, Russian environmentalists found iron at four times higher than its normal rate as well as other acids and nitrates. Oleg Mitvol, Russia’s Deputy Head of their environmental watchdog, claimed it was certainly not a storm that caused this. Then claimed charges will be filed if an industry caused it.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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While climate change can not be completely blamed for wildfires occurring, it is a partial cause. Of course, some wildfires happen by accident. This is why American National or State Parks should do properly controlled burns to help with problematic wildfires becoming much larger. It is also a major reason why camping has slowly started to be banned in parks beyond specific points. Whereas before, Park officials allowed people to camp in far more areas of the land. While it is true that humans can cause wildfires, this is not the only cause.

Climate Change Explained for Dummies
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Temperatures have risen every year but one over the last 20 years specifically. This means that in the summer periods, temperature averages only continued to rise without failure in that period. Most of America’s wildfires tend to begin between spring and summer. California happens to see them more often, likely due to the dryness in the state. When temps rise and the sun is directly on dry trees, this can cause random fires to come about. Many begin with smoke and stop within a minute, others grow and will burst into fires. This will then start a wildfire.

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The Earth Needs Greenhouse Gases, So What’s Wrong With More?

We have referenced the fact that the earth actually does need carbon dioxide as well as other major greenhouse gases. Thus, some will assume that if we need the stuff, more of the stuff we need is a good thing. Yet this is not like adding a few more words to a school paper or packing extra water for a hike. We only need specific rates for each of our greenhouse gases. If there is too much, problems happen. Such as the one we see now with global warming.

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What are the proper levels? Good question. The answer depends on who you ask. For CO2, many say we need to be between 100 to 300 parts-per-minute or ppm. Others will say we can be around 350 to 450 ppm. For methane, you measure in parts-per-billion. Right now, we’re around 1862.8 ppb and we really need to be around 800 to 1,200 ppb. Again, depending on who you ask. Since methane is far stronger than carbon dioxide, we do not need such a drastic extra amount. It would be like going to a buffet and filling your plate, then filling another plate on top of the plate you have. You never needed that much.

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Is Man Really Responsible For The Current Climate Change Epidemic?

As we’ve likely been hinting at or pretty much screamed at you, yes, mankind has caused the current climate change problem worldwide. While some places are worse than others with their pollution, we’re all responsible in some way for the climate problem we see today. If you drive a gas-fueled vehicle or gas-fueled lawnmower, use natural gas, etc. then you’ve contributed to it in some form. A lot of the campaigns against the idea that humans caused the current climate issue has been compared to the debates surrounding smoking and cancer.

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We know today, without any possible argument against it, that regular smoking can cause cancer. Yet for decades, there were people actually arguing against the basic science surrounding cancer and smoking. In fact, the major Cigarette Companies would pay off scientists to push bogus reports. Some even argued their points in front of the U.S. Congress! All of this was political theater to hide the fact that smoking was bad for people. The same exact arguments are happening against man-made climate change science. Why? The exact same reason cigarette companies had. Businesses don’t wanna lose money.

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The Car In A Garage Concept

If you ever need a visual example, or perhaps just an interesting example to use so that people understand what humans are doing to the environment, we recommend the “Car In A Garage” concept. If you drive a car that uses gas, you’d always open your garage before starting up the engine. Why is this? Because most cars release something out of their tailpipe called “carbon monoxide.” This can be produced from other sources too, which is why it is now a law for apartment complexes to have a CM Detector in America. Many homes utilize them too.

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The reason it is such a problem is that CM is colorless and odorless. Yet it can kill human beings. If you sit in your car in your garage, you’ll die if you leave your car on inside it. This is a small space, of course, so how does that relate to the environment? Once you open the garage, this deadly gas among multiple others the car produces is now going into the air. Where do you think that goes? It does not go into space or something. In fact, it never actually leaves the atmosphere. Therefore, something that could kill you in a small space is now joining more of its gas kind worldwide. Does this not sound like a problem?

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Man-Made Climate Change Cause: The Reliance On Fossil Fuels

When you see the term “fossil fuels,” it does not mean we found dinosaur fossils and somehow used them to power the world somehow. Rather, fossil fuels are pretty much those greenhouse gases we referenced. The two biggest gases used in the greenhouse gas sector are obviously carbon dioxide and Methane. However, greenhouse gases are not the only problem. In fact, there are some major pollutants that have been released by factories since the Industrial Revolution.

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There are tons of pollutants they release. Among them, you’ll see: sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds mercury, peroxyacetyl nitrates, lead, cadmium, biological oxygen demand, and several other heavy industrial metals. This is not even including the toxic waste and major chemical spills that happen. Heck, some of the toxic waste has been radioactive. Much of which is disposed of in water areas!!

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Man-Made Climate Change Cause: Coal And Gas/Oil

While simply stating “fossil fuels” are a big problem, many might not understand what exactly this involves. When we reference them, we’re often targeting factories that pollute the environment. However, we are also talking about the use of gas-powered vehicles of any kind. Yet the biggest thing most are referencing is the use of coal. In fact, coal usage is one of the main drivers of climate change. Oil and gas are pretty much neck and neck with coal, however.

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Both push chemicals into the environment that are harmful to everyone, especially animals. This led to some of the particles or waste ending up in the water, causing multiple issues to the environment and even the death of nearby animals who drank the toxic water. Oil spills, which have become far more common than anyone would like, also cause severe issues to the environment. Yet coal and oil also affect the air we breathe, which is why so many nations had to force factories to contain chemicals. However, nothing is really stopping the harm vehicles and lawn equipment cause.

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Man-Made Climate Change Cause: Deforestation

One major reason for a lot of our climate issues is deforestation. On top of that, it has negatively affected the environment overall as well as several ecosystems. Many animals live in trees. Those animals die off when they do not have shelter. Meaning, they are either picked off by predators or die from exposure to elements, lack of food, etc. This prevents them from mating, which then prevents future generations. When the smaller creatures die off, larger creatures end up dying too.

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Therefore, deforestation just kills entire ecosystems. Yet it also connects heavily to climate change because trees also absorb and even store carbon dioxide. This is important because they also put out oxygen too. When you take out trees, you take out a major oxygen source for humans and animals alike. Meanwhile, you also take out one of the very things helping us to keep CO2 numbers down. This does not happen naturally, obviously. It is directly tied to man-made interference.

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Man-Made Climate Change Cause: Increased Agriculture

While some might see something like this and scoff, it is likely due to not understanding the concept behind it. Yes, we’ve been producing agricultural materials for literally thousands of years. This means, quite obviously, it could not have done THAT much damage if we did it for so long, right? Yes, but that does not relate to the present. Agricultural production was never a major issue due to humans not using the same materials we see today. Pesticides alone can be terrible.

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However, intensive agriculture that only keeps increasing has become a major issue. In fact, in the United States, the agricultural sector makes up just under 11% of the nation’s total emissions. When you employ food provisions, you’re releasing greenhouse gases. Farmers release a large portion of methane and nitrous oxide. Why is this such an issue? Mostly due to nations feeling like they must make more than they need. This results in a need for keeping food fresh, with more and more being made that require the need for this. Thus, causing far more greenhouse gases to be used.

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Man-Made Climate Change Cause: CAFOs

If you’re unaware of what CAFOs are, the word is an acronym for “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.” This connects to agriculture but it’s deserving of its own section too. See, CAFOs end up keeping animals in a specific location where they will be overfed to get large. That way, it equates to more usable meat when they’re slaughtered. Most CAFOs have 1,000 animal units that are confined usually for about 45 days. If you’re wondering “1,000 animal units” equals 700 dairy cows, 1,000 meat cows, 2,500 pigs at 55lbs, 10,000 pigs weighing under 55lbs, along with 55,000 turkeys and 125,000 chickens.

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Of course, this means there are specific CAFOs where you’ll see pigs and others for cows or chickens. There are over 212,000 animal feeding operations in the United States and nearly 20,000 are CAFOs. Why are they a problem? They produce heavy amounts of methane. Yet they also have to poop and pee, and that has to end up somewhere. It’s usually washed out and drains into a watering sector. That very same water might be used by local farmers to water their agriculture. Are you starting to see why they are so problematic for our overall environment?

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What Have We Done To Help Solve This Problem?

Nations have gathered to try to come up with ways to fix this ordeal. Many nations like China and India have slowly started to reduce their pollution, while others have cut pollution drastically. The Paris Climate Accord was employed and signed by many nations. The United Nations has also pushed for more environmental measures. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization pushed for reductions in agricultural pollution and intensive agriculture increases.

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Many nations, such as the United States, have been focusing on giving rebates to people for buying things such as an electric car over gas-powered. This might also include tax breaks for businesses that are willing to reduce their carbon footprint. Europe as well as other areas have focused on using renewable resources for power. That includes solar energy, wind energy, hydro, hydro-electric, as well as others. However, none of these measures have been drastically effective yet because most of the world has not converted to eco-friendly concepts. In fact, some have fallen for BS tactics.

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The Clean Coal Lie

If you’ve ever seen the words “clean coal,” you’re seeing a literal lie. Coal cannot and never will be clean. This was put into play by some coal companies as a way of making coal look good in public. While there have been some reductions in pollution put into the environment by those employing clean coal technology, it is not as big as people assume. Moreover, it’s ultimately not even getting rid of the major pollution coal creates. Rather, this stores pollutants to keep them out of the atmosphere. Many times, that storage is underground.

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The issue here is that you cannot store it forever. Plus, in order to even employ this method, you have to use a lot of power. Up to 25% more coal use, in fact. Of course, they are not getting that power from other clean coal. Do you think all of this is cheap for companies? Not at all. Therefore, it’s more expensive and uses more power and therefore more coal to accomplish. That is the very reason why it’s not even widespread in the United States and barely touched worldwide. You’re actually better off using coal normally based on the idiotic measures clean coal tech needs.

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The Potential Of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy, when you say it out loud, sounds horrific. As if to say, you’re using what amounts to a bomb. However, this is not what nuclear energy actually is. In fact, among all renewable resources, it is considered by far the most powerful, efficient, and even the safest for people to utilize. The United States already employs Nuclear Energy to power homes. It’s the second most used source of power in the country, in fact.

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Power companies also love nuclear energy because, while a nuclear plant might take a good chunk of money to form, it’ll then easy to get energy from them. It’s cheap to produce energy with low operating costs. Nuclear energy also has a high-energy-density. Seriously, they run 24/7 and only need to be refueled about every 2 years. They are operating at full power 93% of the time according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This makes it literally the most reliable energy source on the planet. Best of all? Nuclear energy gives off ZERO carbon emissions!



United States Department of Energy

United Nations

Yale University

Stanford University

World Wildlife Fund

National Center for Atmospheric Research

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Institutes of Health

Union of Concerned Scientists

National Geographic


The Guardian