How Do Those Greenhouse Gases Cause Global Warming?
How do greenhouse gases cause global warming? It’s a common question, with a complex answer. Greenhouse gases trap heat in our atmosphere by absorbing it. Without these gases, most of the sun’s heat would be reflected back into space and life on Earth as we know it wouldn’t exist. All of these gases come from natural sources. However, several human activities have increased their amount in the atmosphere beyond natural levels.
1. There Are Many Different Types of Greenhouse Gases
2. Several Very Potent Greenhouse Gases Are Responsible
3. Breathing Out Carbon Dioxide Is Normal
4. Carbon Dioxide Comes from Burning Fossil Fuels
5. Methane Is Associated with The Decay of Organic Waste
6. Nitrous Oxide Is Emitted from Agricultural Soils
7. Fluorinated Gases Are Powerful Greenhouse Gases
8. Combating Global Warming Is a Group Effort
There Are Many Different Types of Greenhouse Gases
Greenhouse gases are gases that absorb and release thermal infrared radiant radiation. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.
Carbon dioxide is a significant greenhouse gas that’s emitted by human activity. As part of Planet Earth’s carbon cycle, CO2 is also naturally present in our atmosphere from soil, animals, the oceans, and plants.
Our activities affect the natural carbon cycle, equally by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and by manipulating our natural sinks’ capability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, such as forests.
The majority of GHG influenced by people are CO2 emissions resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for energy use (electricity generation and transportation).
Other important sources include industrial processes such as cement production and chemical reactions to produce materials like metals and plastics.
Managing land use can also influence net CO2 emissions; for example, deforestation can release significant amounts of carbon stored in trees and soils into the atmosphere.
Methane transported as a by-product of the mining and transportation of natural gas, coal, and oil. Methane emissions are also caused by agricultural processes, as well as the decomposition of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills.
Several Very Potent Greenhouse Gases Are Responsible
Global warming is a rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. It is predicted that the global temperature will continue to rise over the next century due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases caused by human activity.
Concerns about global warming are leading to big changes in our lives. Some countries are moving toward using more renewable energy. Some of those are even banning gasoline-powered cars.
But what exactly is global warming? And how do we know it’s happening?
Global warming happens when the Earth heats up. But the planet has warmed and cooled many times over its history. So, what makes this time different?
The difference is us. It’s no longer natural forces that are changing the planet’s temperature. It’s us, humans, and the pollution we create by burning fossil fuels like coal and oil.
The main greenhouse gas we create is carbon dioxide or CO2 for short. Other gases that contribute to global warming include methane and nitrous oxide.
Many very potent greenhouse gases lead to temperature increases at the earth’s surface. Carbon dioxide traps some of the heat from the sun in our atmosphere, as does water vapour (which is also a greenhouse gas).
The result is an average global temperature that keeps Earth liveable for humans and other life forms. But too much and…
Breathing Out Carbon Dioxide Is Normal
Carbon dioxide is a natural waste product of metabolism. If you are breathing out carbon dioxide then you are alive, so it’s good news.
Breathing out carbon dioxide is normal. It is something most of us do all day, every day. It is a waste product of the body using oxygen, which we need to live.
Several symptoms occur when breathing out too much carbon dioxide in the blood. These symptoms are potentially life-threatening and necessitate rapid medical intervention.
The human body has a system that always keeps the correct amount of carbon dioxide in your blood. This system works off the amount of carbon dioxide you breathe out.
If you breathe out too much carbon dioxide, your body will work harder to compensate for this loss by breathing faster and deeper. This can make you feel very unwell, with symptoms such as dizziness and confusion.
Should you breathe out more carbon dioxide than your body can handle, then it can lead to a fatal rise in acidity (acidosis) in your blood.
In most cases, people who have excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in their blood are already suffering from underlying conditions or diseases that cause this problem.
You may have an underlying lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma that makes it hard for you to breathe properly or get enough oxygen from the air you breathe in.
Carbon Dioxide Comes from Burning Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels are composed primarily of carbon and the oxygen that binds to it to form CO2. So, in short, most carbon dioxide is from the burning of fossil fuels.
Carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion releases carbon bound to oxygen during the combustion process. During fossil fuel combustion, the carbon binds with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.
The lion’s share of anthropogenic (human-caused) CO2 emissions comes from the burning of fossil fuels. These are primarily coal, natural gas, and oil for energy. The remainder results from deforestation, land-use changes, and some industrial processes.
While this is the primary source of carbon dioxide today, it’s certainly not the only one. Volcanic eruptions, for example, can produce a lot of carbon dioxide in short periods of time.
Will the Use of Fossil Fuels Ever End?
If you’re like me, you’d love to think so. But I don’t see it happening anytime soon. It seems that fossil fuels will be used for years, and maybe decades or even a century or more for the foreseeable future. So, it may all boil down to a personal choice: how quickly are you willing to give up your car, which plastic you’re willing to forego in your life and so on?
The most common carbon dioxide sinks are oceans and forests. Trees absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and release it back into the atmosphere when they die or burn.
The oceans, meanwhile, can absorb a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide; however, rising temperatures have caused them to become acidic, which has hurt their ability to do so in recent years.
The carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere today is the same carbon dioxide that’s been here all along. Some has been sequestered in the Earth, and some has been a part of the atmosphere since the planet formed.
For most of Earth’s history, there’s been a balance between these two pools of carbon, with as much being pulled from the atmosphere and returned as was released.
Methane Is Associated with The Decay of Organic Waste
Methane is a naturally occurring chemical compound. It’s the product of the decay of organic matter and a by-product of human digestion. As it is an odourless colourless gas, it has been difficult to detect.
Methane is also a greenhouse gas, which means that it absorbs heat in our atmosphere. Methane gas traps heat in our atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
In recent years, natural gas production has increased substantially in the United States as part of the U.S. energy boom. This increase has brought about concerns about methane pollution and its impact on climate change.
The good news is that methane only stays in the atmosphere for about ten years before breaking down into carbon dioxide and water vapour — but methane still has many times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide during those ten years.
Methane emissions are estimated to account for approximately 9% of total US greenhouse gas emissions, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are currently no federal regulations regarding methane emissions.
While most natural gas production methods don’t release very much methane into the atmosphere, there are several methods of production that do result in large amounts of methane pollution.
Although methane has been around for a long time, only recently has it become a concern for people. This is because it’s a greenhouse gas, which means that it traps heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere.
Methane is also dangerous because it can catch fire and explode. It’s been known to cause house fires and explosions when there’s an excess amount of methane in an area.
Nitrous Oxide Is Emitted from Agricultural Soils
Nitrous oxide is the third most important greenhouse gas, after carbon dioxide and methane. In addition, it contributes to the pollution of drinking water and is toxic to organisms.
It is emitted from air and soil by natural processes, but it is also used as a fertiliser in agriculture to boost plant growth and production.
To better understand the sources and sinks of nitrous oxide in the environment, we need a good knowledge of how it is formed from nitrogen compounds in soils.
Nitrate, produced from fertiliser or excreta and deposited on soils, can be converted into nitrous oxide through several steps involving different microorganisms.
Recently, research has been able to identify which micro-organisms are responsible for these different steps by identifying specific genes involved in their metabolism.
They found that nitrous oxide emission from agricultural soils was associated with a complex network of micro-organisms rather than with individual species.
The study showed that the application of synthetic nitrogenous fertilisers containing ammonium ions leads to higher emissions than the application of organic manure containing urea compounds.
This suggests that changing nitrogenous fertilisers could have an impact on nitrous oxide emissions in agricultural areas.
Fluorinated Gases Are Powerful Greenhouse Gases
Fluorinated gases are powerful greenhouse gases, up to thousands of times more effective at trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide, the best-known greenhouse gas.
Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for decades or centuries after it is released, whereas fluorinated gases remain for around 15 years before breaking down.
Despite this relatively short lifespan, fluorinated gases can be detrimental to our climate because they are so effective at trapping heat. In the upper atmosphere, fluorinated gases are even more powerful than carbon dioxide.
This means that we should make every effort to avoid their release into the environment.
Fluorinated gases are emitted into the atmosphere from many sources, including air conditioners and refrigerators, as well as major industrial processes like making aluminium and semiconductors.
Atmospheric concentrations of fluorinated gases have risen substantially since the industrial revolution, with most of them now at historic highs.
This is mainly because of emissions from industrial processes used in manufacturing and mining. But also because of their use as refrigerants in air conditioning, refrigeration, and heat pumps.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Significant New Alternatives Policy program has identified several alternatives to fluorinated gases that have a lower climate impact and are available to consumers today.
Combating Global Warming Is a Group Effort
Climate change is a very real problem, and it will only continue to get worse unless we do our part to slow global warming.
Many people don’t know what they can do to help the environment and fight global warming. Many people feel that their individual actions cannot have a significant impact on the climate, so they decide not to do anything at all.
However, there are many ways you can fight global warming. By taking these small steps to reduce your carbon footprint, you will be making a huge difference in slowing down global warming.
Individual actions are not enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly enough to avoid the catastrophic dangers of climate change.
We need collective action from the government and industry if we hope to slow down global warming and save the environment.
The first step toward combating global warming is learning about it and how we can help. Many people assume that global warming will not affect their lives — or that they believe there’s nothing they can do to stop it. But global warming is a real problem, and it affects everyone in some way or another.
When you think about the climate crisis, it is easy to feel helpless. After all, what can your individual actions really do to slow down global warming? We tend to believe that we are just a drop in the ocean, and that big businesses or politicians need to make real changes if we are going to have any hope of reversing global warming.
But the truth is, your decisions and actions matter far more than you think.
After all, millions of drops add up to an ocean. If every one of us makes a few small changes in our daily lives, those changes will add up and make a huge difference.
What kind of changes can you make?
Greenhouse gases cause global warming they influence the way that energy in the sunlight entering our orbit from the sun is distributed.