Green House Gases and their Effects Causes Global Worming
Firstly, we need to understand that our atmosphere is a layer surrounding the earth held in place by gravity and primarily made up of Nitrogen (78%), Oxygen (21%), with water and other gases making up the remainder. Scientists now realise that the proportion of these gases has increased significantly over a few hundred years. The real increase began around the time of the Industrial Revolution. This is when we began to burn fossil fuels (coal) in large quantities to power our steam engines.
It is on the 'remainder' that we will focus as it is the concentrations of these trace gases that cause the greenhouse gas problem. The trace gases are made up of Argon, Carbon Dioxide, Neon, Helium, Methane, Hydrogen, Nitrous Oxide and Ozone. Human activities result in emissions of four principal greenhousegases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and the halocarbons (a group of gases containing fluorine,chlorine and bromine). All these gases have what is known as - Global Warming Potential , or GWP with some much higher than others.
Scientists now realise that the proportion of these gases has increased significantly over a few hundred years. These gases are termed 'green house gases' because during the day the earth absorbs heat from the sun, although much of this is radiated back out into space. The atmosphere surrounding our earth contains these gases, and acts like a blanket keeping some of the heat in. If there weren’t an atmospheric ‘blanket’ we would freeze during the night, like some of the other planets or our moon.
These gases are called greenhouse gases as they effectively make the blanket around our globe thicker, trapping more heat and turning the globe into a green house. (A green house is a structure that market gardeners use to grow vegetables in. It is covered in clear plastic or glass to let the sun light in, and traps the heat inside, increasing the temperature. Sometimes these are also referred to as 'hot houses').
This is where it gets a bit frightening! The fossil fuels we are burning in ever-increasing amounts contributes to higher concentrations of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous dioxide, effectively turning up the heat and turning the globe into a veritable greenhouse
Here aresome of the effects of the Earth becoming a 'green house'
Land and ocean temperatures rise
North and South Poles (Arctic and Antarctic) melt
Ocean currents change
Weather patterns change
Sea levels rise (due to oceans warming the water 'swells' and from increased water as polar regions melt
Well, I wish we could simply say that! However turning the globe into a green house has dire consequences for all of us. We already experiencing heatwaves associated with land temperature increase and thousands of people will die through future heatwaves. (In the 2003 heatwaves in France over 20,000 people died).
Droughts will become more prolonged and be even more devastating than anything we have experienced. This is because higher temperatures evaporate water from the land, which will also give rise to more wildfires. Agriculture and food crops will be devastated in some regions and diseases like malaria and dengue fever will increase as conditions favourable to these diseases spread.
Higher ocean temperatures increase the power in cyclones and hurricanes, (stimulating more tornadoes ) and we will see a higher frequency of severe storms (like Hurricane Katrina)and associated flooding that will do extraordinary damage to infrastructure, and destroy houses, towns and villages. This is already driving up insurance costs.
Rising sea levels will displace millions of people, (already on some Islands people are being moved off due to rising seas) and the geography of the land will change dramatically, with millions needing to be relocated along with loss of buildings.