Greenhouse Gases and Their Effects on Climate Change

Greenhouse gases are gases that produce the “greenhouse” effect in the Earth’s atmosphere and therefore trap heat that would otherwise be released to outer space. Some of the most prevalent greenhouse gases are chlorofluorocarbons, water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

The three main types of man-made greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is generated from burning fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas. CO2 accounts for the bulk of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 also occurs organically from humans when they breathe and from biological fermentation of waste products. Even though it is produced organically, it is a dangerous gas at high concentrations.

Methane (CH4) is produced from mining fossil fuels like petroleum oil and natural gas, agricultural endeavors, marshes, decay from organic substances and landfills. Although it is not found in the atmosphere as much as CO2, it traps heat at a much higher rate, making it a more dangerous gas. Its biological lifetime is only 12 years, which is considered short compared to other gases.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is generated from the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers in agriculture as well as the use of catalytic converters in cars. N2O is also released organically from oceans. It has a long biological lifetime of 120 years in the Earth’s atmosphere and is 300 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere; making it one of the most dangerous gases for global warming.

Greenhouse gases have damaging effects around the world, as they produce climate change, heavy rainstorms, sea level rise, dessert expansion and destructive effects on the ecology. Due to climate change, islands have disappeared and people living in coastal areas have been forced to relocate. It has also brought the death of over 100,000 people a year due to heat waves and droughts around the world.

Water vapor is a natural occurring greenhouse gas that is responsible for most of the global warming effects on the planet. Since water droplets are dense, they prevent heat from escaping the planet, and create the same heat trapping effect that the other gases produce. The warmer the planet gets, the more water vapor is produced. And this is the reason why it is very important to limit the production other greenhouse gases to diminish the natural formation of water vapor as a greenhouse gas.

Many countries worldwide have developed programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the production of these gases continues to increase due to many developing countries like China and India. In order to reduce the effects, we should all strive to use energy efficient appliances and take steps to reduce our own personal carbon footprint.

Article Source:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *