What is the Green House Effect?

A greenhouse is a structure designed to cultivate plants from warm climates in a cold climate. Glass is typically used for their walls and roofing since it absorbs heat.

Sunlight can enter the green house via the Glass, fall on the objects inside, and warm up and emit infrared radiation. Green houses heat up because long-wavelength infrared rays are trapped inside because they can’t flow through the Glass. An automobile parked in the Sun will be hotter inside than outside due to the same principle.

According to scientists, the growth of industries is increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and this, in turn, is causing a gradual rise in global temperatures. The term “green house effect” is also used to explain this phenomenon.

This green house isn’t constructed of Glass; instead, it’s composed of some of the gases found in Earth’s atmosphere. Nitrogen and oxygen comprise 99% of the air’s gases and do not absorb solar heat. However, carbon dioxide and water vapor trap heat from the Sun and warm the planet. By absorbing infrared radiation, substances, including water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and CFCs, keep the planet warm. The vast ice caps at the North and South Poles will melt if the global average temperature rises, which will cause sea levels to rise. As a result, a lot of coastal communities will be flooded.

The average global temperature of 14 degrees Celsius would have fallen to minus 18 degrees Celsius if there had been no green house effect. Venus has a high concentration of carbon dioxide, which has a partial pressure of 90 bar. Because carbon dioxide absorbs all of the solar heat, Venus has a temperature of 467 degrees Celsius.

What causes the greenhouse effect?

The Sun provides energy for life on Earth. The outer atmosphere produces around 30% of the sunlight that strikes Earth and radiates into space. The remainder travels to the planet’s surface and reemerges as slow-moving radiation.

By absorbing the heat from infrared radiation, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, ozone, and methane can escape from the atmosphere more slowly.

Despite making up only 1% of the Earth’s atmosphere, greenhouse gases trap heat and create a warm air blanket over the globe.

Illustration depicting the greenhouse effect.
Photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

The greenhouse effect was named after this phenomenon by scientists. To maintain our current ecosystem without it, experts predict that the global average temperature would need to increase by around 30 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit).

How do humans contribute to the greenhouse effect?

  1. Although the greenhouse effect is a requirement for life on Earth, it may also be immensely beneficial.
  2. When humans interfere with and speed up natural processes by adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than is required to warm the globe to a comfortable temperature, issues arise.
  3. The release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and its uptake by plants and algae are balanced by burning natural gas, coal, and oil, including the gas used in car engines.
  4. Some agricultural methods raise methane and nitrous oxide levels and other land uses. Only when exposed to light soils because of the presence of carbon dioxide.
  5. Industrial gases, which do not occur naturally but are nonetheless created by numerous enterprises, have long contributed to the current deep-house effect and global warming.
  6. Additionally, the discovery adds to global warming. Trees consume carbon dioxide and oxygen in their place, contributing to the best possible gas balance in the atmosphere. However, fewer trees carry out these crucial tasks when more woods are felled for their timber or cleared for watercraft. The intensive reforestation of young forests, which sequesters tons of carbon, can at least partially offset losses.
  7. Another contributing element to global warming is population growth, as more people consume fossil fuels for production, transportation, and heating, which raises the level of greenhouse gases. More greenhouse gases are released into the sky when more agriculture is practiced to feed billions of people.
  8. The Earth’s surface temperature steadily rises, and atmospheric air and ocean temperatures fall due to more greenhouse gases trapping and holding infrared energy.

What are the Effects of the Greenhouse Effect?

The major impacts of increasing greenhouse gas emissions are:

Global Warming

It refers to the progressive rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. The major source of this environmental problem is the increased production of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane from the combustion of fossil fuels, as well as emissions from automobiles, factories, and other human activities.

Depletion of the Ozone Layer

The Ozone Layer shields the Earth from the Sun’s dangerous UV radiation. It can be found in the higher regions of the stratosphere. The ozone layer depletion allows dangerous UV radiation to enter the Earth’s surface, which can cause skin cancer and radically alter the climate.

Illustration depicting the greenhouse effect.
Image by Jürgen Jester from Pixabay

The buildup of natural greenhouse gases such as chlorofluorocarbons, carbon dioxide, methane, and others is the primary source of this phenomenon.

Smog and Air Pollution

Smog is created when smoke and fog combine. Both natural and artificial factors can cause it.

The buildup of additional greenhouse gases, such as nitrogen and sulfur oxides, causes smog. Automobile and industrial pollutants, agricultural fires, natural forest fires, and chemical reactions are the key contributors to smog production.

Acidification of Water Bodies

The increase in the overall amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has acidified the majority of the world’s water bodies. The greenhouse gases combine with precipitation to form acid rain. As a result, water bodies become acidic.

Furthermore, precipitation deposits impurities in rivers, streams, and lakes, producing acidification.

What is Runaway Greenhouse Effect?

This happens when the Earth receives more radiation than it can emit back. As a result, the heat released from the Earth’s surface is reduced, and the planet’s temperature rises. Scientists believe that this event occurred billions of years ago on the planet of Venus.

This phenomenon is thought to have happened in the following way:

A runaway greenhouse effect happens when the temperature of a planet rises to the boiling point of water. As a result, seawater condenses into water vapor, trapping more heat from the Sun and raising the global temperature. This ultimately hastens the greenhouse effect. The “positive feedback loop” is another term for this.

Another possibility is giving rise to the runaway greenhouse effect. Assume that the temperature rise caused by all of the above reaches such a high degree that chemical reactions begin to occur. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere due to these chemical processes. This would heat the planet’s surface, hastening the transit of carbon dioxide from the rocks to the atmosphere and generating the runaway greenhouse effect.

Said increasing the greenhouse effect causes a runaway greenhouse effect, which raises the temperature of the Earth to the point where no life will exist shortly.

What are the Major greenhouse gases and their sources?

Carbon dioxide (CO2): 

Illustration depicting the greenhouse effect.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas, accounting for around three-quarters of total emissions. It has the potential to persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years. At Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory, carbon dioxide levels hit 411 parts per million in 2018, the highest monthly average ever measured. The combustion of organic materials such as coal, oil, gas, wood, and solid waste mostly causes carbon dioxide emissions.

Methane (CH4): 

Methane, the major component of natural gas, is emitted by landfills, the natural gas and petroleum industries, and agriculture (particularly from grazing animals’ digestive tracts). A molecule of methane does not stay as long in the atmosphere as a molecule of carbon dioxide (around 12 years), but it is at least 84 times more abundant. It accounts for around 16% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Nitrous Oxide (N2O): 

According to the IPCC, nitrous oxide accounts for around 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but it is 264 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years and has a lifespan in the atmosphere that surpasses a century. Agriculture and livestock, including fertilizer, manure, agricultural residue burning, and fuel combustion, are the major sources of nitrous oxide emissions.

Industrial gases:

 Fluorinated gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), have thousands of times the heat-trapping potential of CO2 and can remain in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. They account for around 2% of all emissions and are utilized as refrigerants, solvents, and in industry, occasionally as byproducts.

Water vapor and ozone (O3) are two more greenhouse gases. Water vapor is the most prevalent greenhouse gas on the planet, but it is not tracked in the same manner as other greenhouse gases since human activities do not directly release it, and its effects are unknown. Similarly, tropospheric ozone (not to be confused with the protective stratospheric ozone layer higher above) is not directly released but originates through complicated interactions among contaminants in the air.


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