More on Climate Change
Send Us Feedback
Compare My Score
Roll over the question numbers on the globe below to test your knowledge on climate change.

Cookies must be enables beyond this point

  Question 3 Answer A
emissions from factories and automobiles
The main cause of climate change is:   a) emissions from factories and automobiles

No, that is incorrect.


Climate change occurs in cycles caused mainly by changes in the Sun's output, the Sun's position over the Earth, and changes in albedo, the color of the surface of the Earth (especially variations in snow cover, seasonally and over time). When human emissions of CO2 rose at the fastest rate in history during and after World War II, the planet cooled, bringing fears of a coming global ice age. At other times, CO2 and Earth’s temperature have risen together, although CO2 levels generally lagged temperature suggesting that CO2 rise is a consequence of, not a cause of, warming.


Major Causes of Global Temperature Shifts


  1. Astronomical Causes

    • Cycles of solar variability (Sunspot activity):

      • ~11 year Hale cycle

      • ~ 22 year Schwab cycle

      • ~75-90 yr Gleissberg Cycle

      • ~200-500 yr Suess Cycle (includes the 206 year cycles that may have contributed to the downfall of the Mayan civilization)

      • ~1100-1500 yr Bond Cycle

    • Variations in the electromagnetic spectrum (heat and light) of solar energy (this is the only astronomical cause seriously considered in the climate computer models cited by the IPCC).




    • 41,000 year cycle: Cycle of the +/- 1.5° wobble in Earth's orbit.



    For more information, see and


  2. Atmospheric Causes




  4. Tectonic Causes


    • Landmass distribution: Shifting continents (continental drift) causing changes in circulatory patterns of ocean currents. It seems that whenever there is a large land mass at either one of the Earth's poles, there are ice ages.


    • Undersea ridge activity: "Sea floor spreading" (associated with continental drift) causing variations in ocean displacement.

  5. Ocean circulation, both surface circulations and deep ocean circulation.


  6. Albedo (or surface reflectivity) changes. These are generally natural (e.g. polar ice caps and seasonal snow cover changes), with a small component caused by human-induced “land-use change”.


Click for the Next Question

Click to see other answers:    b      c   
Produced with the assistance of Dr. Tim Ball & Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech.), Executive Director, International Climate Science Coalition.
CSCCC FCPP is a member of Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change.
For more information see
© Frontier Centre for Public Policy 2017.