Have you ever been inside a greenhouse on a cold winter day? It might be cold outside, but inside the greenhouse lush green plants flourish in the warmth and sunshine. Greenhouses are made of glass and are designed to hold heat inside. Our planet’s atmosphere traps energy just like a greenhouse. Energy from the Sun can enter the Earth’s atmosphere, but not all of it can easily find its way out again. What blocks the Sun’s energy from escaping from the Earth? Unlike a greenhouse, the Earth does not have a layer of glass over it! Instead, molecules in our atmosphere called greenhouse gasses absorb the heat.
Greenhouse gasses include water vapor, methane, ozone, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide. There may not be much of some of these gasses in our atmosphere, but they can have a big impact. Each greenhouse gas molecule is made of three or more atoms that are bonded loosely together. These molecules are able to absorb heat, which makes them vibrate. They eventually release the heat energy and it is often absorbed by another greenhouse gas molecule. The greenhouse effect is useful because trapping some energy keeps the temperatures on our planet mild and suitable for living things. Without its atmosphere and the greenhouse effect, the average temperature at the surface of the Earth would be zero degrees Fahrenheit. However, too many greenhouse gases can cause the temperature to increase out of control. Such is the case on Venus where greenhouse gases are abundant and the average temperature at the surface is more than 457 degrees Celsius.
The greenhouse effect is a natural process by which some of the radiant heat from the Sun is captured in the lower atmosphere of the Earth, thus maintaining the temperature of the Earth’s surface. The gases that help capture the heat, called ” greenhouse gases “.Over the past several decades, rising concentrations of greenhouse gases have been detected in the Earth’s atmosphere. Although there is not universal agreement within the scientific community on the impacts of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, it has been theorized that they may lead to an increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s surface. To date, it has been difficult to note such an increase conclusively because of the differences in temperature around the Earth and throughout the year, and because of the difficulty of distinguishing permanent temperature changes from the normal fluctuations of the Earth’s climate. In addition, there is not universal agreement among scientists and climatologists on the potential impacts of an increase in the average temperature of the Earth, although it has been hypothesized that it could lead to a variety of changes in the global climate, sea level, agricultural patterns, and ecosystems that could be, on net, detrimental.The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that: “Our ability to quantify the human influence on global climate is currently limited because the expected signal is still emerging from the noise of natural variability, and because there are uncertainties in key factors. These include the magnitudes and patterns of long-term variability and the time-evolving pattern of forcing by, and response to, changes in concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and land surface changes. Nevertheless, the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate”.
Major Greenhouse Gases Associated With Human Activities:-
This table shows 100-year global warming potentials, which describe the effects that occur over a period of 100 years after a particular mass of a gas is emitted.
Greenhouse gas How it’s produced Average lifetime in the atmosphere 100-year global warming potential
Carbon dioxide Emitted primarily through the burning of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), solid waste, and trees and wood products. Changes in land use also play a role. Deforestation and soil degradation add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, while forest regrowth takes it out of the atmosphere.
Not destroyed over time
Methane Emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and agricultural practices and from the anaerobic decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills.
Nitrous oxide Emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste.
Fluorinated gases A group of gases that HFC, PFC among other chemicals. These gases are emitted from a variety of industrial processes &commercial & household uses, and do not occur naturally A few weeks to thousands of years Varies (the highest is sulfur hexafluoride at 23,900)
At last You might hear people talking about the greenhouse effect as if it is a bad thing. It is not a bad thing, but people are concerned because Earth’s greenhouse is warming up very rapidly. This is happening because we are currently adding more greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, causing an increased greenhouse effect. The increased Greenhouse Effect is causing changes in our planet that can affect our lives.