Greenhouse effect refers to the heating of the earth’s surface as well as the lowest layer of the atmosphere due to the presence of greenhouse gases. These gases include water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, and other fluorinated gases. Some artificial chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are also a major causal factor behind the greenhouse effect.
Greenhouse effect has become a growing concern across global organizations as it is one of the most important climate change issues plaguing the earth. The severity of the issue is evident through rapidly changing climatic conditions and unexpected weather spells in various parts of the world. Additionally, the average temperature of the Earth is said to have increased over the past few decades.
The term greenhouse effect was coined to depict a greenhouse being built around the earth. A greenhouse is a glass box in which certain plants are grown like tomatoes and tropical flowers. The reason these plants are placed in a glass case enclosure is because of the ability of the glass to trap the heat.
Once sunlight touches the outer side of the glass panels, it seeps into the enclosure through the glass. However, it remains trapped inside even when temperature outside is cold. Such an enclosure helps plants gain sunlight even in the nighttime and during winters when there is limited sunlight.
In the same way-
The greenhouse gases end up trapping sunlight that enters the earth’s atmosphere. When sunrays pass through the atmosphere, the clouds, ice caps and light-colored surfaces reflect these rays back. However, many of these rays end up reaching the earth’s surface, from where it is almost impossible for them to bounce back into outer space. When these rays bounce from the earth, they reach the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and these gases absorb the reflected heat.
Evidence of this phenomenon is already visible as glaciers and ice caps have been melting across regions leading to untimely floods in valleys beneath these regions.
The gases which entrap sunlight in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. Water vapors form a large part of these gases. The following gases are also accountable for the greenhouse effect:
How are humans adding to the greenhouse effect?
Human activities have added greatly to the pace of the greenhouse effect. The burning of fossil fuels circulates most of these greenhouse gases which trigger off global warming. It has been scientifically observed that the global temperature has increased since the 1800s by 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
During the Industrial Revolution, the burning of fossil fuels and coal rose. This was done to power factories, steam engines and smelters. Most of these methods have been replaced with more suitable modern methods. However, many of these practices of burning fuel continue.
Since the industrial revolution started, till the beginning of the 20th century, the amount of greenhouse gases has risen by roughly 30% and the amount of methane has more than doubled. If it persists, the greenhouse effect can lead to an increase in global temperatures of up to 3-4 degree Celsius compared to 1986-2005 temperatures. Such an increase in temperature could cast spells of drought and rainfall and consequently alter the food production process.
Most of the gases that are counted as greenhouse gases are crucial for the natural processes on earth. If maintained at the right level, these gases are extremely critical in keeping the heat level at par on the earth’s surface. Thus, if it were not for these gases, the earth could turn stone cold and habitation on the planet would be impossible.
These gases pose a threat when their concentration reaches a high level. High levels of greenhouse gases cause excessive heat to get trapped into the earth’s atmosphere. Thus, small degrees of heating, cumulated over years leads to adverse weather conditions.
Most of the climate change issues can be resolved with simple changes to lifestyle routines. However, certain pressing issues require action on international levels, with countries unanimously working towards the cause. Here are certain measures that can be adopted: