The Top 10 Causes of Global Warming

••• Ralf Geithe/iStock/GettyImages

Global warming looms large over humanity. According to the EPA, worldwide greenhouse gas emissions attributed to human activities increased twenty six percent from 1990 to 2005. The rise in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere accounts for approximately eighty percent of this increase. Often debated, the effects of global warming on the planet and the human population are frightening and mostly self-inflicted.

Power Plants

Forty percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions stem from electricity production. Ninety-three percent of the electric industry emissions result from burning coal. According to the EPA coal-fired power plants, municipal and medical waste incineration account for two-thirds of U.S. mercury emissions.


EPA reports state that thirty-three percent of U.S. emissions come from the transportation of people and goods.


Industrial farming and ranching releases huge levels of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Farming contributes forty percent of the methane and twenty percent of the carbon dioxide to worldwide emissions.


Deforestation to use wood for building materials, paper and fuel increases global warming in two ways -- the release of carbon dioxide during the deforestation process and the reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide that forests can capture.


The use of nitrogen-rich fertilizers increases the amount of heat cropland can store. Nitrogen oxides can trap up to 300 times more heat than carbon dioxide. Sixty-two percent of nitrous oxide released comes from agricultural byproducts.

Oil Drilling

Burn-off from the oil drilling industry impacts the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Fossil fuel retrieval, processing and distribution accounts for roughly eight percent of carbon dioxide and thirty percent of methane pollution.

Natural Gas Drilling

Touted as a cleaner fuel source, natural gas drilling causes massive air pollution in states like Wyoming; the hydraulic fracturing technique used to extract natural gas from shale deposits pollutes ground water sources as well.


The melting of permafrost releases tons of trapped green house gases which further speeds up the melting of more permafrost. Scientists calculate that approximately five-hundred gigatons of carbon is trapped in the Siberian permafrost alone. A single gigaton equals one billion tons.


As trash breaks down in landfills, it releases methane and nitrous oxide gases. Approximately eighteen percent of methane gas in the atmosphere comes from waste disposal and treatment.

Volcanic Eruption

Volcanoes expel large quantities of carbon dioxide when they erupt. Volcanoes have an overall small effect on global warming and an eruption causes a short-term global cooling as ash in the air reflects greater amounts of solar energy.

Related Articles

Boom! Here's How to Create Your Own Volcanic Eruption...
Effects of Hydrocarbons on the Environment
What Is the Difference Between Human & Natural Air...
Natural Gas Information
Examples Of Deforestation
Oklahoma's Environmental Problems
How Is Carbon Dioxide Absorbed During Photosynthesis?
Types of Scrubbers
How Do Factories Cause Air Pollution?
What Are the Benefits of Conservation of Fossil Fuels?
Facts on Overpopulation and Deforestation in the Amazon...
Properties of Hardened Steel
Volcanoes That Have Erupted in the Last 100 Years
Pollution in the 21st Century
How Does Recycling Influence Air Pollution?
What Is the Most Dominant Gas in Volcano Eruptions?
The Advantages of a Solid Waste Incinerator
Nuclear Energy Vs. Fossil Fuel
Colorado Natural Resources
How Does Burning Fossil Fuels Affect the Nitrogen Cycle?
Examples of Secondary Pollutants