Is climate change a natural cycle?

By Simon Doerr, Musaab Abu Zaid, and Grayson Bradley

Yes and No. 

It is known and proven through science that Earth has experienced at least five major ice ages in all of Earth’s history.  An “Ice Age” is described as a period in time where global temperatures are colder, and phases of glacial expansion occur over Earth’s surface.  Capable of lasting hundreds of millions of years, these periods are interspersed with regular warmer interglacial intervals in which at least one major ice sheet is present.  The next Ice Age may not occur for 100,000 more years due to what is happening to our planet now. 

Ice Ages are real and natural yes, but what’s going on with our planet now is not.  The amount of carbon dioxide that is being pumped into our atmosphere now is only set to increase unless something is done about it. Carbon dioxide has greatly contributed to the planet’s increasing warmth. Over the past 800,000 years, its levels have fluctuated between roughly 170 parts per million and 280 ppm, meaning 280 molecules out of 1 million air particles consist of carbon dioxide, according to Live Science.  What is happening now is not natural and is human made.  The carbon dioxide problem is one of the factors that is unnaturally changing the climate.  Human activity is only increasing which will continue to push the next ice age farther away, unless something is done about it. 

Origin and Prevalence 

Although the First World Climate Conference was held in 1979, talks and discussions began long before that. The first reported testing of greenhouse gases was done by Eunice Foote in 1856, where she filled up glass jars with water vapor, carbon dioxide and air. She then compared how much they heated up in the sun. Three years later physicist John Tyndall published studies on the way greenhouse gases trapped heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Since then scientists have not stopped doing tests and research on climate change.  

Most scientists agree that humans are a large factor in climate change, so if scientists say that climate change is altered heavily by humans, who’s saying it’s not? The answer to that is websites that are not truthful and conspiracy theorists. Sites like this pick and choose what facts and claims to promote and putting information out like this has contributed to the belief that climate change is a myth. While they are in the minority there are climate change deniers. Climate change deniers are not just average people, there are politicians that are against the science of climate change. There are everyday people that are climate change deniers, but they are in denial because their politicians are in denial. 

Issues and Analysis 

Climate change has been a known issue for over a century. The earth goes through Ice ages and warmer interglacial periods, but this is not the current cause to the change in climate that the earth is experiencing now.  

The Greenhouse Gas Effect is when gases that are produced inside the Earth’s atmosphere block heat from escaping. 

Nasa states that gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect are: 

  • Water Vapor – As Earth’s atmosphere warms, levels of water vapor increase which then increases the chances of clouds and/or precipitation. 
  • Carbon Dioxide – CO2 in the atmosphere has been increased by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution in 1760.  Natural and human causes have made the levels so high. 
  • Methane – Produced naturally through decomposition, it is a hydrocarbon gas. 
  • Nitrous Oxide – Produced by soil cultivation practices. 
  • Chlorofluorocarbons – These are synthetic compounds that were made and still produced to help with the destruction of the ozone layer. 

Burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil has been one of the biggest effects of earth’s climate due to the increased concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Going back over the last 800,000 years the global atmospheric carbon dioxide has not been over 300 ppm (parts per million). In recent years, that rate has jumped drastically. In 2018 the Earth was at 407.4 ppm. Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are responsible for “about two-thirds of the total energy imbalance that is causing Earth’s temperature to rise” (Lindsey). This shows that human activity has caused climate change.