Understanding Greenhouse Gases and Why We Need to Reduce Them
Greenhouse gases are one of the biggest concerns facing mankind today. If we do not manage to reduce their levels in the atmosphere, the planet will heat up to a degree which will turn it uninhabitable. Yet most people still do not know anything about these gases or why they are a problem.
1. What Are Greenhouse Gases?
2. What Is the Greenhouse Effect?
3. How Do Humans Produce Greenhouse Gases?
4. Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases
5. Why Do We Need to Reduce Gases?
6. What’s the Worst That Can Happen?
What Are Greenhouse Gases?
Greenhouse gases are gases that heat the Earth’s atmosphere. We need these gases, because without them life would not be possible.
You should know that these gases have been around since the beginning of time. However, what makes them different today is the amount of it and the rate in which it is increasing.
Scientists have been pondering how to identify and track these gases for decades.
The process was complicated by the fact that there are thousands of types of gases that are emitted into the atmosphere. And it’s been found that each one has a different effect on temperatures.
Unfortunately, we have been adding too many of these gases to the Earth’s atmosphere, and this has caused global warming. The good news is that many of the greenhouse gases can now be removed from the atmosphere again.
These gases absorb certain parts of the sun’s energy before it can reach us. As a result, they are warm to the touch, and they make life on Earth possible. Without them, the Earth would be just as cold as Mars or Pluto.
But we have too much of some greenhouse gases in our atmosphere right now. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one example of a greenhouse gas that increases global warming.
We know that carbon dioxide caused global warming because we see it in ice cores taken from Antarctica and Greenland. These cores show us how much carbon dioxide there has been in our atmosphere over thousands of years. And this shows us that levels today are higher than ever before in human history.
This means we could even have an ice age soon if we don’t reduce our use of fossil fuels quickly enough.
We are adding CO2 to our atmosphere because of cars, planes, factories, and power plants that fossil fuels.
What Is the Greenhouse Effect?
A greenhouse is basically a glass house. The glass lets the sun’s rays in but doesn’t let them back out again. That keeps the air inside the greenhouse warmer than it would otherwise be.
The Earth acts a little like a gigantic greenhouse, trapping some of the heat that would otherwise escape into space.
Greenhouse gases are the “glass” of our greenhouse. They allow sunlight to get in, but they keep some of that heat from getting back out again.
The basic cause of global warming is very simple. The sun is hot, and it sends out light in every direction. Some of this light reaches the Earth, and the Earth’s surface reflects it back into space.
But there are also greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and ozone — that act like a blanket around the Earth and stop some of the light from leaving.
But what causes these gases to build up in the atmosphere? Burning fossil fuels is a major source of carbon dioxide. And methane comes from livestock and rice fields as well as natural sources such as wetlands.
Planting forests allows more carbon dioxide to get locked up in wood instead of released into the air. The bad news is that we can’t do anything about water vapour or ozone.
But there’s plenty we can do about carbon dioxide and methane. Carbon dioxide is only one aspect of global warming, but it is a very important one.
It has increased substantially in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times due to human activities such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation.
- The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon
- The greenhouse effect is one of the causes of global warming
- The greenhouse effect is triggered by gases in the atmosphere
- Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap heat
How Do Humans Produce Greenhouse Gases?
The two major greenhouse gases produced by humans are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).
Carbon dioxide is produced when fossil fuels are burned. Methane is produced when organic matter decomposes in oxygen-free conditions such as swamps, landfills, and rice paddies.
Methane is also released as a by-product of industrial processes like oil refining and coal mining. People often confuse carbon dioxide and methane because they’re both released into the atmosphere during natural processes.
However, only small amounts of carbon dioxide and methane occur naturally. Most of these gases are produced by human activity. Some activities produce large amounts of greenhouse gases.
The main sources of CO2 emissions worldwide include when we drive our cars, gas escapes through the exhaust pipe into the air. The same thing happens when we use our machines for manufacturing or power plants for electricity generation.
It’s estimated that more than 70% of all CO2 emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil for electricity generation and transportation.
The problem is that humans have been adding more and more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere over the last 100 years (mostly since 1950). This has caused global temperatures to rise significantly.
An increasing number of scientists believe that Planet Earth may be approaching a tipping point due to climate change — a moment when climate extremes become so common that they become the norm.
If we continue our current trajectory, that tipping point may be reached within the next few decades. That’s one reason why reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is so important.
It can help keep us in a safe range for temperature increases while buying us some time to develop renewable energy sources.
Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases
Climate change can be overwhelming. We are constantly bombarded with dire predictions about the environment, and it can be hard to wrap our heads around exactly what we can do about it.
Understanding greenhouse gases is an important step in acting against climate change. As previously mentioned, the most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N20), fluorinated gases, and water vapour.
The smallest amounts of greenhouse gases are water vapour. The main source of water vapour is the ocean since warm air holds more water than cold air.
In the past, there was no system in place to watch and keep track of these greenhouse gases.
It was a French scientist, Joseph Fourier, in the 1820s who first realised that heat radiation is retained in the Earth’s atmosphere. This was while he was studying how energy moves around within the Earth’s atmosphere. He found that CO2 was responsible for trapping heat in our atmosphere.
What Is Your Biggest Climate Change Concern?
If we don’t start reducing these emissions soon, our planet could be irreparably damaged. But there’s hope for the future—there are many things that you can do to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, from changing your diet to using cleaner forms of transportation. Together, we can prevent global warming from becoming a significant issue for future generations.
The greenhouse gases (GHGs) that cause climate change are emitted by cars, trucks, airplanes, trains, ships, electricity plants, oil refineries and other industrial facilities, as well as homes and businesses.
Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and change Earth’s climate.
Trees also emit a small amount of carbon dioxide from their leaves when they convert sunlight into energy. This is called “carbon dioxide exchange.”
Even though trees release carbon dioxide into the air, they absorb it during photosynthesis — the process through which they convert carbon dioxide and water into food.
Still, because forests are being cut down over time, their ability to absorb CO2 is declining. That means that more CO2 stays in the atmosphere.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has been rising steadily since the mid-1800s.
- Climate change is connected to greenhouse gases
- Make a difference by driving less and recycling more
- It gets hotter the more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
- Rising temperatures are causing more extreme weather patterns
- Burning fossil fuels like oil and natural gas release greenhouse gases
Why Do We Need to Reduce Gases?
In recent times, people have become increasingly aware about the need to reduce GHG in the atmosphere. This is because these gases are believed to be responsible for global warming.
And even though there is no scientific proof that humans are the direct cause of global warming, it has been proven that greenhouse gas emissions are indeed one of the factors contributing to global warming.
Because of the effect that greenhouse gases have on the environment, we should all consider taking action to reduce them.
However, not everyone understands what greenhouse gases are and how they impact our environment.
There are natural and man-made GHG that are warming the earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gases prevent heat from escaping into space.
Too many warms the planet. The increase in greenhouse gases is happening at an alarming rate, causing the earth to warm faster than ever before in recorded history.
Also known as global warming, climate change is a phenomenon that will continue to cause problems for both humans and animals throughout the world if greenhouse gas levels continue to rise.
The industrialisation of our world has made it possible for us to improve quality of life. Technology has provided us with many luxuries that were never before possible.
Unfortunately, this development has come with a cost: pollution. Pollution comes in a wide range of forms, from smoke emitting from factories to carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
This is one of the main causes behind global warming. The by-product of burning fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum creates millions of tons of carbon dioxide each year.
This is something that can easily be seen through an increase in temperatures across the globe.
Earth’s atmosphere is changing rapidly, mostly due to human activities. The two main culprits are heat-trapping gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels and other industrial processes.
What's the Worst That Can Happen?
The worst that can happen if we don’t reduce GHG is the planet will continue to get warmer. That will cause sea levels to rise, make storms more intense and hurt agriculture.
We’ll also experience more droughts, heat waves and serious water shortages. Tipping points for the climate system could be reached that would trigger further warming and changes with catastrophic consequences for humanity.
The impacts of climate change will vary from region to region and from country to country.
Our coasts will be threatened by rising sea levels, and our farmers will experience droughts, heat waves and water shortages.
Storms become more severe and destructive. Some of the world’s most important agricultural regions become less productive.
What Scares You the Most about Climate Change?
I think the biggest problem here is that there are so many scares, I don’t know where to start. If I had to pick one thing, though, freezing oceans would be a tough one. We rely on ocean currents for a wide range of climate phenomena, so if they were to stop (or slow down) we could see some big changes on land.
And, in the long run, sea levels rise so high that dozens of coastal cities are swamped. Tens of millions of people will lose their homes, and hundreds of millions more will be forced to migrate inland.
Many areas that we now consider “the middle of nowhere” will become liveable as the climate changes.
Humanity has pulled off some amazing scientific feats. We’ve tamed fire, built incredible machines, and invented the Internet. But we’ve also created a man-made disaster of epic proportions.
History shows that nothing can continue to grow forever, yet carbon dioxide levels have continued to rise for decades. If this continues, scientists predict we’ll see a catastrophic change in our climate within our lifetimes.
But if we make all the necessary changes stick, we could significantly reduce our impact on the environment to a level that could be managed and controlled.
Every individual matters a lot, so reducing greenhouse gases should still be a top priority for everyone. At least we will then ensure that there’s still a world to live in for our kids and grandkids.
It’s understanding greenhouse gases including what they are, how and why we should reduce them to make a better world for our future generations.