Green House effect
The greenhouse effect is the natural phenomenon that generates the thermal heating that makes life possible on the planet.
Planet Earth is surrounded by a layer of air: the atmosphere; it is the Earth’s atmosphere that is responsible for retaining about half of the solar rays that reach the planet. The gases responsible for the greenhouse effect retain these solar rays, preventing them from completely returning to space; thus, the sun’s rays hit the Earth’s surface, heating it and causing it to radiate heat. Without the greenhouse effect , none of the solar radiation would stay on the planet and there could be no life on Earth.
The word greenhouse represents a construction, usually made of glass, which receives the sun’s rays and retains a part of them, keeping the environment warm. The construction of greenhouses allows plants with a tropical climate to be grown in places where the climate would not allow them to develop properly.
The greenhouse effect received its name precisely because the Earth’s atmosphere works like a greenhouse, retaining heat and allowing life to exist on the planet.
Greenhouse effect and global warming
Planet Earth naturally goes through alternating periods of heating and cooling. These eras can last up to 60 million years and science believes that in the last billion years there have been six ice ages alternating with periods of global warming.
The greenhouse effect has been treated as a villain, but it is not. Without the greenhouse effect , there would be no life on Earth. Global warming is not a villain either; the process would happen in the same way, whether human beings are contributing or not.
The question raised is that there are studies that indicate that human activities are contributing to the greenhouse effect and accelerating the process of global warming. When it happens naturally, it is very slow and life on Earth adapts; With the speed at which it has been happening, global warming has been causing problems for the planet and threatening the continuity of some forms of life on Earth.
Causes and consequences of the greenhouse effect
Greenhouse effect – causes
Human activity has been generating an increasing emission of greenhouse gases , especially carbon dioxide (CO 2 or carbon dioxide). Carbon dioxide exists naturally in the atmosphere and is produced by living beings, but the burning of fuels, fires and even agricultural activity have been causing an increase in the amount of CO 2 in the atmosphere, accelerating global warming. There are living beings that consume carbon dioxide, balancing the amount of it in the atmosphere, but as it has been present in excess, nature is not managing to absorb all of it.
Not only has carbon dioxide accelerated global warming; there are other gases emitted by various human activities that also contribute to the greenhouse effect , such as:
-methane gas (CH 4 );
-nitrous oxide (N 2 O).
Dust particles are also thrown into the atmosphere, increasing air pollution and thickening the layer of atmosphere that serves as a greenhouse for the Earth.
Greenhouse effect consequences
Global warming accelerated by human activity has been causing problems for the planet such as:
All these phenomena mentioned above occur naturally in nature, but they have been happening with a much greater frequency.
Other consequences of the greenhouse effect and global warming:
-destruction of ecosystems;
-extinction of species of living beings;
-melting of polar ice caps;
– sea level rise
Ozone layer and the greenhouse effect
In the Earth’s atmosphere, more specifically in the stratosphere, there is a layer composed of ozone gas (O 3 ). This is the layer that filters the sun’s rays that reach Earth, allowing only 5% of the ultraviolet rays to pass through (very harmful to terrestrial life forms).
At certain times of the year, ozone can react with gases in the atmosphere, thinning the layer. This process occurs naturally and is facilitated by low temperatures; that’s why the ozone layer is smaller at the poles. Nature itself is responsible for rebalancing the amount of ozone in the stratosphere.
Hole in the ozone layer
With the increase in the production of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by human activities, a much greater amount of gases that react with ozone becomes available; ozone is a gas that reacts very easily and a greater amount of the other reagents causes the ozone layer to narrow beyond the limit that nature can rebalance.