Part 3 of a 4-part series on why the Earth is warming

If you haven’t already read part 1 or part 2 of this series, be sure to check them out first.

We’ve already looked at the most commonly cited natural causes that could be warming the Earth. In short, none of them could be responsible for the current warming we’re seeing.

With this in mind, let’s switch gears and look at man-made causes that could be heating up the planet. We’ll again look at a number of charts that compare actual temperature vs. predicted temperature.

Is deforestation heating things up?

Trees absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. We’ve been cutting them down, and burning them, for years to make room for cities and agricultural fields. Naturally, this is causing some warming — right?

Chart via Bloomberg, based on findings from NASA. Click to enlarge.
Chart via Bloomberg, based on findings from NASA. Click to enlarge.

It turns out, cutting down dark forests is actually slightly cooling the Earth. This is because, whether it’s a city or a lighter food crop, more sunlight is being reflected back into space instead of being absorbed.

What about ozone pollution?

When it comes to trapping heat, ozone is roughly 1,000 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Surely that’s causing most of the warming.

Ozone
Chart via Bloomberg, based on findings from NASA. Click to enlarge.

Not so fast. It’s true that ozone is a potent greenhouse gas, but it has a short lifetime in the atmosphere. It’s also important to look at how high up in the atmosphere the ozone is sitting. Low-level ozone traps heat, while high-level ozone blocks it. In the end, it essentially breaks even.

Aerosols! It must be the aerosols.

Sulfate aerosols from things like burning coal are reaching unprecedented levels. They’re responsible for breathing problems like asthma, and also cause acid rain. They probably warm the planet too, right?

aerosols
Chart via Bloomberg, based on findings from NASA. Click to enlarge.

Wrong. Aerosols are responsible for a lot of bad things, but warming isn’t one of them. In fact, they actually directly cool the Earth by reflecting sunlight back into space.

Well, what the heck is it?

We’ve spent a lot of time looking at different things that might be warming the Earth. All of these have been said to be the main cause of Earth’s warming. But we can clearly see that none of them are.

So the question remains, what’s the driving force behind the warming? We’ll look at just that in the final part of this series.

You’ve probably guessed by now that carbon dioxide is responsible for much of the Earth’s warming. You can help do your part to limit it, and save money, by talking to a Domino energy savings concierge today. Your concierge will recommend energy-saving tips as well as ways to get green energy, like solar. Whatever you’re looking to do, your energy concierge is there to make it easy and ensure you’re happy.