Before Climate Change
The Greenhouse Effect was good. It warmed our planet Earth to a comfortable average temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). This temperature makes earth livable. Without the Greenhouse Gas Effect our planet would look more like an uninhabitable planet. However, due to the extensive amounts of mankind’s fossil fuel burnings is overheating earth.
As a result of mankind’s use of fossil fuels the Greenhouse Effect has been messed up. We are “artificially” creating more heat to the Greenhouse Effect, amping up the amount of heat we receive. It’s changing our planet fast.
Let’s Back Up…
The Greenhouse Gas effect was identified by scientists dating back to 1896. Before fossil fuels the general idea of the Greenhouse Effect was the natural warming of Earth and the heat getting trapped in our atmosphere trapping heat from the sun. Without the atmosphere trapping the heat from the sun our planet would be frozen.
Back to the Present-What is Causing Global Warming?
The Sun’s heat is what makes Earth bearable. This is called Solar heat. 30% of the sun’s heat is reflected back into space. The 70% of the heat that does make it to earth warms the earth, water and atmosphere. Then the light is radiated back up in invisible infrared light. Some of that light makes it all the way back into space, 90% of that light gets absorbed by atmospheric gases, known as Greenhouse Gases and then redirected back towards that earth causing further warming.
We have been able to exist and thrive for over the past 800,000 years and much longer, because of the Greenhouse Effect. A cool fact is that the concentration of Greenhouse gases in our atmosphere was between 200 and 280 parts per million. This basically means that there were 200 to 280 molecules of gases per million molecules of air!
Unfortunately due to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, the concentration of Greenhouse Gases has almost jumped up to 400 million parts per part. The higher concentration of Greenhouse gases, the more heat is trapped in our atmosphere and the warmer the planet gets.
The Greenhouse Gases
The main Greenhouse gases include, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapor, (Water Vapor occurs naturally) and fluorinated gases. (Fluorinated gases are synthetic.) Greenhouse gases all have different properties and are removed by the atmosphere overtime. For example, Carbon Dioxide Carbon is absorbed by Carbon Sinks such as the ocean plants and soil. Floruranted gas can only be destroyed by sunlight in the upper atmosphere.
The Presence of the Gases
Global warming depends on three key factors.
First is, how much gas currently exists in the atmosphere. The gas is measured in part per million (ppm), part per billion (ppb),or part per trillion, (ppt). Radiative Forcing (RF) is another way to measure greenhouse gases. (RF also measures other climate disasters such as volcanoes and the sun’s brightness.) RF finds out how much of the sun’s energy is absorbed and then how much is released back into space.
Since the Industrial Revolution the use of coal power, steam engines, and human activity, has greatly increased the amount of Greenhouse gases. We have only kept going. Carbon Dioxide is the most man made gas released and the longest lasting gas. Evidence has shown that Carbon Dioxide can stay in the air as long as 1750-2010! Greenhouse gases have locally dropped. 2014-2016 we saw the most recent drop but they are accelerating.
Electricity and Heat Production
Electricity and Heat accounts for ONE QUARTER of world wide man made emissions! This makes it the single largest source of pollution and global warming. In 2017 coal combustion was the prime recourse to produce the most Carbon Dioxide.
The Industries make up one-fifth of human driven emissions. In 2017 industries accounted for 22.4% of man made emissions in the US alone. A majority of Carbon Dioxide, methane nitrous oxide and fluorinated gas was released.
The burning of petroleum based fuels, mostly gasoline and diesel, accounts for 14% of global greenhouse emissions. The US is the biggest contributor due to the amount of Americans buying cars. Low cost on gas makes driving long distance more appealing to those on a lower budget.
Thank you for Reading but before you go…
NRDC is a non-profit organization that works to protect the climate and animals. You can donate money to their projects or get involved yourself.
Also thank you to NRDC for providing the resources for me to write this post.