Among the planets in the Solar System, the earth is the only one that provides the climatic and temperature conditions which are ideal for sustaining different life forms. Other planets either have burning hot or bitterly cold temperatures. It is the greenhouse effect of the earth’s atmosphere which makes life possible on earth. In this section, we will discuss the greenhouse effect and how it is responsible for global warming.
The sunlight strikes the earth’s atmosphere in the form of visible light, infrared rays, ultraviolet rays and other forms of radiations. Out of the innumerable solar radiations entering the earth, about 30% is reflected back to space by the earth’s atmosphere, clouds, snow and other reflective objects. The remaining incoming solar radiation is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere, clouds and earth’s surface including oceans, and held back as thermal energy. This heat is re-emitted back in the form of infrared rays which have a longer wavelength. The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere such as water vapor, methane, and carbon dioxide, prevent the infrared rays from escaping and holds them in the atmosphere. They radiate the heat energy, which again reaches the earth’s surface and heat it up. Heat is, thus, trapped inside the earth, keeping it warm.
Importance of Greenhouse Effect
The heat-trapping effect of the greenhouse gases keeps the temperature of the earth optimal for the sustenance of life. Without the greenhouse effect, the global average temperature of Earth’s surface would have been -18-degree centigrade, unlike the current 15 degrees. The moon, for example, has no atmosphere and has a temperature of -153 degrees centigrade, which is too cold to support any life forms.
With the several advancements taking place due to increasing population, increased utilization of resources, the industrial revolution and other reasons, there has been a significant rise in the concentration of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The increased level of the greenhouse gases resulted in the trapping of more heat into the earth and a consequent rise in the global temperature.
The consequences of the global warming can be disastrous, if unchecked. It will lead to severe climate change, melting of ice caps, a rise in sea levels, increase in the acidification of oceans, etc.
Although it is arguable whether the damage that is already done can be reversed or not, but we can surely take steps to prevent it from any further harm. There is an urgent need to cut down the usage of fossil fuels, to stop deforestation, growing more plants to make efficient usage of the available energy resources and to keep a check on the increasing human population.
Differences between Greenhouse Effect And Global Warming
|This is caused by the preservation of the heat by the greenhouses gases on the surface of the Earth and permitting the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere to rise||This is caused when there is a rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and the oceans.|
|This is mainly caused when there is an increase in the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and is initiated by the burning fossil fuels, emissions from the vehicles and industries, use of synthetic fertilizers, etc.||The main causes include the combustion of fossil fuels, mining, pollution, deforestation, population, etc.|
|The main effects caused by the rise in the greenhouse gases are droughts, flooding, melting of snow, extreme weather conditions, natural calamities, rising sea level, etc.||The main effects of global warming are melting of ice glaciers, extinction of all living species, raise in the sea levels, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, acidification of water bodies, acid rain, warmer climate, etc.|
|Greenhouse Gases can be reduced by 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. As carbon dioxide is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect, we all need to reduce the emission of this gas into the atmosphere and increase the planting more trees.||Global warming can be reduced by using fuel-efficient vehicles, use of compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs by switching to solar panels and planting more trees as the plants utilize carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis, which is the main cause of Global warming.|
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