Although there is widespread agreement that global warming is occurring, the specific cause of this phenomenon is the subject of intense debate. Although many people point to human activity as the chief culprit, several scientists believe that changes in solar output and variations in the Earth’s orbit around the sun are responsible. Let’s explore these views.
The history of climate change studies
Scientists have studied the impact of the sun on the Earth’s climate for more than 200 years. Several researchers, including Sir William Herschel, even attributed variations in sunspots to changes in climate and weather. Herschel believed that sunspots were a factor in crop production and could be used as predictors of wheat prices.
Sir William Herschel’s research had little impact on climate science at the time because he did not have enough historical temperature data with which he could make comparisons. However, research has been conducted since then to show that changes in the sun’s energy output can affect Earth’s climate.
Changes in the Earth’s orbit can cause major climatic changes. For example, the Sahara went from a fertile grassland to a desert when the Earth’s orbit changed. And some scientists are worried about what will happen when the Earth’s tilt changes again. NASA scientists say the changing ice in Greenland is already causing the landscape to tilt, altering its shape at roughly two and a half centimeters per year. Scientists predict this shift will continue in years to come.
Many scientists worldwide have researched human activities that contribute to climate change. Fossil fuel burning emits carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gasses at work, changing our environment. Agriculture and land-use patterns also play a role in triggering this energy imbalance. Researchers on both sides of the argument agree that natural temperature changes are a factor in the planet’s current cycle of climate change. But they disagree about how human activity is responsible for these temperature fluctuations. And there is no indication that the two sides will come to any kind of scientific or policy consensus in the near future.
Climate change supporters and opponents frequently refer to short-term events such as harsh winters or scorching summers when making their arguments. They often use these temporary weather events to make broad assumptions about the science behind climate change. Singular weather events, such as a snowstorm or a heatwave, are not enough to prove or disprove the existence of human-induced global warming.