Geological records show that there have been a number of large variations in the Earth’s climate. These have been caused by many natural factors, including changes in the sun, emissions from volcanoes, variations in Earth’s orbit and levels of carbon dioxide (CO2).
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Following are the natural causes of climate change
Quantity of greenhouse gases
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and water vapour. Water vapour is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, but it stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter period of time: just a few days. CH4 stays in the atmosphere for about nine years until it is removed by oxidation into CO2 and water. CO2 stays in the atmosphere much longer, from years to centuries, contributing to longer periods of warming. These gases trap solar radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere, making the climate warmer.
CO2 content of the oceans
The oceans contain more CO2 in total than the atmosphere and exchanges of CO2 occur between the oceans and the atmosphere. CO2 absorbed in ocean water does not trap heat as it does in the atmosphere.
The causes of climate change are almost entirely anthropogenic, the primary ones being the increased use of fossil fuels, deforestation, increasingly intensive agriculture and large-scale livestock farming, all of which are required to support a spiralling global population.