TOPIC 1: What are greenhouse-gasses and why are they a big problem?

TOPIC 1: What are greenhouse-gasses and why are they a big problem?

The greenhouse effect is one of the natural things that makes Earth a comfortable place to live. The amount of some greenhouse gases, trap some of the Earth’s outgoing energy, thus retaining too much heat in the atmosphere. Which gases and how cause the problems?

The “Goldilocks” planet

The greenhouse effect is the natural way in which heat is trapped close to Earth’s surface by greenhouse gases and makes our Planet a comfortable place to live. These heat-trapping gases can be thought of as a blanket wrapped around Earth, keeping the planet liveable for the species living there.  Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are part of our atmosphere’s makeup. Part of what makes the planet at a friendly 5 °C on average.

Greenhouse gases are

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) – is released by natural processes (like volcanic eruptions) and human activities.
  • Methane (CH4) – comes from both natural and human activities (from plant-matter breakdowns, landfills, rice farms, and melting permafrost)
  • Nitrous oxides (NO) – from fertilizer production and use, burning fossil fuels and vegetation.
  • Water vapor (H2O) – the warming ocean increases its amount (which is the biggest among greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere.
  • Chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) – industrial origin, this compound does not exist in nature.

Scientists agreed that      CO2‘s warming effect contributes to the stabilization of the atmosphere of the Earth. Without it, the terrestrial greenhouse effect would collapse and the planet’s surface would be some 33°C cooler. So we need CO2, but not that much.

Global warming

From the 1800s, due to the global industrial revolution, human activities have become the main driver of climate change. Burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas intervene in the natural processes. The level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has been rising consistently for decades. It traps extra heat on and near Earth’s surface. And the temperatures are rising. The main greenhouse gases that are causing climate change include carbon dioxide and methane. These come from e.g. using gasoline in transportation or coal for heating buildings. Clearing land, burning and cutting down forests also release more and more carbon dioxide. Intensive, monoculture agriculture and oil and gas operations are major sources of methane emissions. The main sectors that generate greenhouse gases are Energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture, and land use.