Climate Change, Global Warming and Greenhouse Effect

2009-09-21 10:24 BJT

Picture from United States Environment Protection Agency
Picture from United States Environmental Protection Agency

What is the Greenhouse Effect?

The term greenhouse is used in conjunction with the phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect.

Energy from the sun drives the earth’s weather and climate, and heats the earth’s surface;

In turn, the earth radiates energy back into space;

Some atmospheric gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other gases) trap some of the outgoing energy, retaining heat somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse;

These gases are therefore known as greenhouse gases;

The greenhouse effect is the rise in temperature on Earth as certain gases in the atmosphere trap energy.

Six main greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) (which is 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide) and nitrous oxide (N2O), plus three fluorinated industrial gases: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). Water vapor is also considered a greenhouse gas.