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What is the Greenhouse Effect? Definition, Causes, and Effects

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  • Last Updated : 27 May, 2022
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A greenhouse is a glass structure used to grow plants. The sun’s beams warm the plants and the air in the greenhouse. The trapped heat cannot leave, therefore warming the greenhouse, which is required for plant growth. The same may be said for the atmosphere. The sun heats the earth’s atmosphere during the day. Heat is reflected back into the atmosphere as the ground cools at night. Heat is absorbed by greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere during this process. This is what keeps the surface of the world warm and allows life to exist.

Through the glass, solar energy enters a greenhouse, warming the soil and atmosphere and stimulating plant development. The earth and plants, emit infrared radiation, which the glass absorbs and reflects in various ways. This traps the sun’s energy in the greenhouse. Carbon dioxide absorbs heat and strongly contributes to global warming.

In addition to carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases such as methane, ozone, CFCs, and nitrous oxide have a significant role. These compounds are either naturally occurring or created by humans. These compounds should be used less frequently; else, the average temperature of the planet would rise. As a result, the polar ice caps will melt, flooding coastal areas. As the world temperature rises, diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever become more common.

Greenhouse Gases and Greenhouse Effect

The atmosphere contains several chemical substances that serve as greenhouse gases. These gases allow sunlight to readily flow through the Earth’s atmosphere and heat the land and oceans. This heat is released by the warmed Earth in the form of infrared light, which is invisible to the human eyes. Some infrared light emitted by the Earth returns to space via the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases, on the other hand, will prevent all infrared light from passing through the atmosphere. They absorb some of it and return it to the Earth. The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring phenomenon that keeps the Earth’s surface warm. It is critical to our survival on our planet. The Earth’s average surface temperature would be around 60 degrees Fahrenheit colder without the greenhouse effect, making our existing way of life unthinkable.

Causes of Greenhouse Effect

  1. Transportation and power generation both rely on fossil fuels. When fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide is released. As the world’s population has expanded, so has the use of fossil fuels. As a result, the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases has risen.
  2. Plants take carbon dioxide and release it as oxygen. Cutting down trees causes a huge increase in greenhouse gases, which causes global warming.
  3. Fertilizers include nitrous oxide, which adds to the greenhouse effect on the environment.
  4. Industries and industries emit hazardous gases into the atmosphere. Landfills also emit CO2 and methane, both of which contribute to global warming.

Effects of Greenhouse Effect

Global Warming

It is the progressive rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. The fundamental source of this environmental issue is the growing amount of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels, as well as emissions from vehicles, factories, and other human activities.

Depletion of  Ozone Layer

The ozone layer shields the Earth from the sun’s damaging UV rays. It can be found in higher heights of the stratosphere. The depletion of the ozone layer allows harmful UV radiation to reach the earth’s surface, potentially causing skin cancer and catastrophic climate change. The fundamental cause of this phenomenon is the accumulation of natural greenhouse gases such as chlorofluorocarbons, carbon dioxide, and methane, among others.

Smog and Air Pollution

Smoke and fog mix to create smog. It could be caused by both natural and man-made factors. Smog is caused by the accumulation of additional greenhouse gases such as nitrogen and sulfur oxides. Smog is caused by automobile and industrial emissions, agricultural fires, natural forest fires, and chemical reactions between these compounds.

Acidification of Water Bodies 

Most of the world’s water bodies have become acidic as the total amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has grown. When greenhouse gases and precipitation combine, acid rain is created. Water bodies become corrosive as a result. Precipitation also transports toxins to rivers, streams, and lakes, resulting in acidification.

Climate Change Due To Global Warming

Climate scientists agree that the global temperature has risen significantly during the last century. If Global Warming continues unabated, it will have far-reaching consequences. The rise in sea and ocean levels will be one of the most significant repercussions of global warming. This is already happening all around us. The melting of glaciers and polar ice caps will lead to global water levels rising. Aside from that, fresh water resources will be depleted. 

Conceptual Questions

Question 1: What role do humans have in climate change?

Answer:

Humans are rapidly altering the climate and the earth’s temperature through burning fossil fuels, destroying rainforests, and raising livestock. This releases massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, amplifying the greenhouse effect and contributing to global warming.

Question 2: What is the global warming conclusion?

Answer:

Regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases, are influencing natural systems worldwide, and these temperature increases are almost probably caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Question 3: Who is to blame for global warming?

Answer: 

The climate catastrophe is exacerbated by fossil fuel industries. According to a new study published in 2017, only 100 fossil fuel providers are responsible for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions over the last two decades.

Question 4: What is the purpose of burning fossil fuels?

Answer:

Much of the electricity needed to power our automobiles, corporations, and keep the lights on in our houses has come from fossil fuels. Even now, petroleum, coal, and gas produce around 80% of our electricity.

Question 5: Write a short note on the greenhouse effect.

Answer

A greenhouse effect is when more gases, such as carbon dioxide, are trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases function as a screen, trapping heat from the sun and creating a significant temperature increase.

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