The Causes Of Greenhouse Effect You Need To Know
Greenhouse gases play a vital role in global warming and climate change. The greenhouse effect occurs when the sun’s rays are absorbed by the earth, warming up the planet’s surface and in turn, releasing heat. This natural release of heat results in air rising from the ground level into the atmosphere. In that layer, radiation from the sun is absorbed by greenhouse gases, therefore, causing a build-up of heat in the atmosphere.
The Meaning of Greenhouse Effect
This is where thermal radiation is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases from the surface of Planet Earth and re-radiated in all directions.
A big part of this re-radiation is reflected back towards the surface and the lower atmosphere, it resulting in an increased surface temperature of Planet Earth above what it would be in the absence of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.
The greenhouse effect is one of the processes that contribute to the temperature of the Earth’s surface. The other major contributions are made by clouds, which reflect incoming energy from the Sun, and by aerosols, which also reflect solar energy and/or absorb thermal radiation from the Earth.
In addition, changes in solar luminosity or changes in atmospheric composition can alter global climate.
For example, during the ice age, there is less water vapour in the atmosphere to absorb infrared radiation. As a result, more infrared radiation can escape into space. This cools down the planet.
Conversely, during a period of high temperatures (such as we have today) more water vapour is present in our atmosphere. This allows less infrared radiation to escape into space and traps heat on our planet.
The Main Cause Is Human Activities
Our planet has been getting warmer for some years, and this is the major reason to be concerned. Whether it is emissions coming out of industries such as coal burning and oil drilling, or even just increasing carbon dioxide. However, all of these are human activities and are the main cause of the greenhouse effect.
The biggest greenhouse gas on our planet is carbon dioxide (CO2). It’s a colourless, odourless gas that makes up much of the air we breathe.
And it’s being released into our atmosphere in larger amounts than ever before. CO2 is a natural component of Earth’s atmosphere. But humans have added more to the mix than any other time in our planet’s history.
Some increases can be attributed to natural processes such as forest fires and volcanoes. But by far the greatest source of CO2 is burning fossil fuels — coal, oil, and natural gas — to generate electricity and heat buildings, factories and vehicles.
As a result, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have risen nearly 40% since the start of the Industrial Revolution in about 1760. This increase is consistent with what we expect from an industrialised world looking to boost its economy through energy efficiency. The more we use, the more CO2 there will be to pollute our air with.
Left unchecked, the effects will be devastating. Some will be immediate like droughts and floods and other disasters that come with extreme weather events.
But others will take decades to play out and will affect everyone in some way. This includes rising sea levels and decreased crop yields to more frequent extreme weather events, including droughts and heatwaves.
Methane Emission Due To Decomposition In Landfills
In many places in the world, methane emission is a major problem. If you have ever visited one, chances are you’ve noticed a smell like rotten eggs.
This odour is due to the release of methane gas as organic material in landfills decomposes. It can be catastrophic if this process is not well controlled.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is many more times potent than carbon dioxide. The problem of methane emissions is especially acute in landfills that do not recover the landfill gas, which contains about 50% methane. This gas can be used as an energy source in place of natural gas or coal.
Several technologies and strategies can be used to capture methane gas and use it as a source of energy. However, the best way to manage methane emissions is by controlling the amount of organic material that ends up in landfills.
Before humans started burning fossil fuels in large amounts, methane and carbon dioxide levels were about the same. But then, as the land was cleared for agriculture and industry, and more fossil fuels were burned for energy, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased.
The amount of methane in the atmosphere has also been increasing, although at a lower rate than carbon dioxide. Methane is produced naturally by bacteria as organic matter decays when there is no oxygen around.
One of the easiest ways to control the flow of organic material into landfills is by using a composting program. Composting programs help in diverting organic material from landfills. This will reduce the amount of methane gas produced from these sites.
CFCs And Other Greenhouse Gas Emissions
CFCs and other greenhouse gases (like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are major contributors to climate change. These gases don’t last long in the atmosphere and since the start of their industrial-scale production in the 1980s, they’ve warmed our world.
Fortunately, scientists have been working for decades to find ways to stop global warming caused by CFCs and HFCs. In 1987, countries around the world came together to sign an agreement that aimed to phase out CFCs worldwide.
This was an important step forward, but we need to act now to save our planet from the worst effects of climate change.
Most of the warming to date has come from the long-lived greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). These gases are a by-product of fossil fuel combustion and agriculture, among other things.
They linger in the atmosphere for decades, centuries or millennia. The amount of warming they cause depends on how long they’re around as well as how much of them are there.
CFCs and HFCs, by contrast, don’t last very long in the atmosphere. They break down when exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun on time scales between a few months and a few decades.
However, because they are so potent in driving up temperatures during that time, their total contribution to global warming is significant. When you do buy a new product, make sure to buy one that won’t contribute to global warming.
Water Vapour Also Causes The Greenhouse Effect
Water vapour is one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect. This statement might surprise some because it’s not as generally known as carbon dioxide.
It doesn’t just act as a greenhouse gas when added to the environment, but also when it’s removed from the atmosphere. Due to this, scientists believe that large sources of water vapour can trigger the greenhouse effect even if the climate system is already in an equilibrium state.
A natural part of our atmosphere, water vapour helps to trap heat by absorbing incoming solar radiation. Helping to keep Earth warm enough so that life as we know it will thrive.
The sun’s energy travels through the atmosphere to reach Earth’s surface, but only a certain amount of that energy reaches the planet. The rest is reflected or absorbed by water vapour in the air.
The process of absorption makes the air warmer, which adds to a natural phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is a term used to describe how heat and light from the sun are trapped by certain gases in the atmosphere.
Water vapour itself is not considered a greenhouse gas since it’s not something that humans can directly control — at least not yet. However, you can indirectly affect water vapour levels by altering other factors that contribute to climate change.
Decreasing The Number Of Trees
Causes of the greenhouse effect can be contributed to widespread and excessive deforestation all over the world. Deforestation is contributing a lot to intensifying these problems not only because of the decrease in trees but also because of the damage made to the ecosystem of our planet.
Trees play a very important role in the environment; they not only provide oxygen but also absorb harmful carbon dioxide. They are also a source of water, food, and shelter for animals.
Humans need trees to survive too, as they provide us with oxygen through photosynthesis. Trees are home to many different species of plants and animals that live in their branches or on the ground below.
The effects of deforestation include:
- Urbanisation – More people move to urban areas in search of jobs and better living conditions.
- Mining – Forests are removed so minerals beneath the soil can be accessed by mining companies.
- Climate change – Higher temperatures and altered weather patterns are causing drought in tropical forests, making them more susceptible to fires.
- Forest fires – Forest fires occur naturally and can also be deliberately set by farmers or other landowners; either way, this contributes to deforestation when fire destroys large areas of forest that cannot regrow.
Deforestation affects both humans and animals, causing a loss of biodiversity as well as habitat destruction for many species that rely on trees for survival.
While deforestation isn’t necessarily responsible for all the causes of the greenhouse effect, it does contribute to them further — which means that deforestation needs to be stopped.