The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming is one of the major problems that the world is facing today. An in-depth explanation of global warming and the greenhouse effect along with its causes and effects is given below.
What is Greenhouse Effect?
The greenhouse effect is the process thanks to which Earth has a higher temperature than it would have without it. The gases that radiate heat also known as greenhouse gases absorb the energy radiated out by the Earth and reflect a part of it back to Earth. Of all the energy that the Earth receives from the Sun, a part of it around 26% is reflected back to space by the atmosphere and clouds. Some part of it is absorbed by the atmosphere, around 19%.
The rest hits the ground and heats the surface of the Earth. This absorbed energy is radiated out of the earth in the form of Infrared Waves. These IR waves warm the atmosphere above the Earth. The atmosphere again radiates this energy it received from the Earth both upwards and downwards. The energy sent downwards results in a higher equilibrium temperature that if greenhouse gases were absent. This greenhouse effect is essential to supporting life on Earth.
What are Greenhouse Gases?
The greenhouse gases responsible for the greenhouse effect are:
- Water Vapour
- Carbon Dioxide
The excessive burning of fossil fuels such as petrol, coal, etc. has resulted in an increase in the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulting in a phenomenon known as Global Warming. This is an increase in the ambient temperature of Earth which will negatively affect life on Earth.
How do we know?
If an ideal black body were at the same distance from the Sun as Earth, its temperature would be 5.3oC. However, Earth reflects 30% of this energy back into space. Including this in the calculation for the temperature of Earth gives us an answer of -18oC. As we can clearly see, this is far from true. The average temperature is a whopping 33oC higher at 15oC. This difference in ambient temperature is caused by greenhouse gases.
Causes of Greenhouse Effect
The following are the factors that are responsible for the cause of greenhouse effect:
- Deforestation: This is considered to be one of the most responsible factors for the cause of greenhouse effect. This is due to the reduction in the release in the oxygen and absorption of carbon dioxide by the plants.
- Fossil fuel burning: Fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gases are used as a means of energy which releases a huge amount of harmful gases into the environment.
- Population: As the population increases, the need for space increases which again results in deforestation.
Prevention of Greenhouse Effect
Now that we have made a list of causes, finding alternates to these causes becomes by following the below mentioned preventive measures:
- Afforestation: Afforestation on a large scale area helps in decreasing the release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
- Conservation of energy: Switching to renewable sources of energy such as solar energy, wind energy, etc will reduce the use of fossil fuels. This eventually reduces the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- Policy intervention: When the government comes up with strict policies to maintain the overall air quality of the city.
Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming
Global warming refers to the increasing temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects. Scientific evidence has conclusively proven that the Earth’s temperature is in fact rising and has risen by 0.85oC. This has an impact has affected different regions differently. The effects include rising sea levels, retreating glaciers, loss of sea ice in the poles, warming global temperatures, changing precipitation, expansion of deserts, etc.
This raises significant threats for humans such as food security from decreasing crop yields, submergence of a low-lying area due to the rising sea. To prevent irreversible damage to the delicate ecosystems on Earth, scientists have decided that global warming should be limited to a maximum of 2.0oC relative to pre-industrial levels. The greenhouse effect plays an important role in the rising temperature. And hence to restrict global warming we need to limit the greenhouse effect and the gaseous emissions that cause the greenhouse effect.
Fourteen of the fifteen years in the 21st century have been the hottest years on record with constant occurrences of extreme weather, cyclones, droughts, floods, etc. All these events are some way or the other have an association with the greenhouse effect and global warming.
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