The “blanket around the earth,” the ozone layer which is a layer of greenhouse gases (primarily water vapor, and including much smaller amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) acts as a thermal blanket for the Earth. This blanket layer absorbs heat and warms the surface of the earth to the temperature needed to support life.

GREENHOUSE GAS AND GLOBAL WARMING

Most climate scientists agree on the main reason for the current global warming trend. Human activities cause rising emissions and add to a condition called the “greenhouse effect” in our atmosphere.

In this post, we’ll answer the question of how does a greenhouse gas work?  Finally, you can decide for yourself how to reduce greenhouse gas, or if reducing greenhouse gas emissions will reduce climate change.

WHAT IS THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT?

The greenhouse effect is a natural process and is beneficial for the earth. It maintains the planet’s temperature at a level suitable for the development of life. 

When the sun’s heat reaches the atmosphere, part of it returns to space. Gases in the atmosphere absorb the rest. The absorbed energy heats the atmosphere and the earth’s surface.

What is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere?

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions:

What is an example of a greenhouse gas?

Water vapor – Water vapor is the worst greenhouse gas and also acts as feedback on our weather conditions. For example, as water vapor increases the atmosphere warms. Additionally, the possibility of rainfalls and clouds go up as well. Therefore temperature and rainfall are the most important data to track greenhouse gas and global warming.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) – Human activities release the vast majority of carbon dioxide emissions. Some examples are activities such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation process, and other changes in land use.  Also, carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere through natural processes such as volcano eruptions, respiration processes, and forest fires. Why is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas? It holds heat that would otherwise be lost into space.

Methane – Methane is much less abundant. Hydrocarbon gas can come from many sources. Both nature and human activities create it. Methane emissions result from the decomposition of waste landfills. Additionally, agriculture and livestock make methane. One final example is the production of coal and natural gas.

Nitrous oxide – Nitrous oxide is a powerful gas produced during agricultural and industrial activities.  Examples include soil refinement, the process of burning fossil fuels and the creation of biomass.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – CFC greenhouse gas are particularly harmful when released into the atmosphere. It has an entirely industrial origin and was once widely used in production. It’s now strictly regulated as it can damage the earth’s ozone layer. The most common emitter of CFCs are refrigerators and air conditioners.

HOW GREENHOUSE GAS CAUSES CLIMATE CHANGE

Can small concentrations of carbon dioxide hold enough heat to cause climate change on earth?  Why is Mars’s surface still frozen? The answer is simple.  Its atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide. However, on Mars, the atmosphere is extremely thin.  It contains no water vapor or methane.  Additionally, it has low atmospheric pressure, so it shows no evidence of life.

On the other hand, the atmosphere of Venus is producing a runaway greenhouse effect. It’s also nearly all carbon dioxide.  Furthermore, the surface of Venus has an atmospheric pressure 100 times higher than on earth. The thick atmosphere traps the Sun’s heat and is hot enough to melt lead.

WHERE DOES GREENHOUSE GAS COME FROM?

Human activities contribute to changing the natural greenhouse. Activities from our everyday lives and greenhouse gas causes:

  • Burning fossil fuels, so driving a car comes with a cost
  • Deforestation, which is when trees are cut down for use as a building material
  • Not reusing or recycling all appropriate materials leads to more garbage decomposing in landfills. Decomposition produces more methane.
  • The use of synthetic fertilizers in agriculture produces dangerous greenhouse gas. Plants don’t fully absorb these fertilizers.
  • Using home appliances with Fluorinated gases. Common examples include refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

SOLAR IRRADIANCE

Did you know that solar variability plays a big role in climate change? The sun is a fundamental source of energy for the earth.  It alone can trigger important climate changes along with everyday weather patterns.

Clearly, the greenhouse effect is a complicated and important climate concern.  How can you raise awareness about this important environmental topic?

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