How Does Global Warming Work?
“How Does Global Warming Work”- Do We Really Know?
“How does global warming work?” is a question that many people in the world are asking. Most of the people would have already heard of global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps, but many people may still be unaware how global warming is affecting them. One of the most alarming environmental changes affecting our planet is the melting of the polar ice caps and many people believe that this is the result of global warming.
How does global warming work?
Global warming is the unexpectedly high increase in the temperature of earth’s atmosphere in a very short span of time. Change in global temperature is a natural phenomenon and is supposed to occur at a gradual pace. Global warming works by the means of greenhouse gases like water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane etc. Due to the increase in the concentration of these greenhouse gases more heat is trapped on the earth which has caused a sudden increase in the temperature of the earth. Global warming and the greenhouse effect has become an increasingly important and worrying issue.
What is the greenhouse effect?
The Earth receives energy from the sun. The sunlight falling on the surface of the earth reflects back to the space as long wavelengths, but some of these wavelengths are absorbed by the greenhouses gases present in the atmosphere, thereby warming the atmosphere. This warming of earth by greenhouse gases is termed as greenhouse effect.
Is greenhouse effect really harmful?
Due to concerns about global warming the greenhouse effect is usually considered bad. But the greenhouse effect is not a bad thing in itself. The greenhouse effect is the phenomenon which helps to keep the earth warm, which is a necessary condition for the survival of living organisms on the earth. If there was no greenhouse effect on the earth, then our planet would be similar to mars – too cold for life as we know it.
If the Greenhouse effect is important for our survival, then why are we scared of it? The problem does not lie in the fact that greenhouse effect exists on the planet earth. The problem lies in the fact that over the years the greenhouse effect has increased at an alarming rate causing a sudden increase in the world temperatures. Increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which leads to increased heat absorption by them causing an increase in the temperature.
Extremes of anything are usually bad, and extreme changes in global temperature are no exception. If greenhouse gases rise significantly above the optimum levels, then there would be more warming of the earth, which could have adverse effects on all living organisms of the earth. Many people believe that the effects of global warming can already be seen in the form of polar ice caps melting and the rapidly rising sea levels, increased number of violent storms and tornadoes, extreme weather conditions around the world, extinction of many species etc.
What are the major greenhouse gases contributing to global warming?
The major gases responsible for global warming are Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. However gases like fluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride also contribute to global warming but their role is very minor when compared to that of carbon dioxide and methane.
- Carbon dioxide: This is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, which is released to the atmosphere whenever something is burnt. The major sources of carbon dioxide emissions have been the burning of fossil fuels in the power plants and in the internal combustion engines of vehicles. It is estimated that 72% of the total greenhouse gases emitted is carbon dioxide.
- Methane: After carbon dioxide, methane is another gas responsible for contributing to global warming. 18-19% of the totally emitted greenhouse gases are methane. As a greenhouse gas, methane is hundred times more powerful than carbon dioxide, when its effects are measured over a decade. Rice paddies, intestinal ducts of herbivores animals, marshes, natural gas leakages etc. are a major source of methane emission. Another source of methane is clathrates. These are frozen chunks of ice and methane is trapped in them. As and one these clathrates melt, methane is released to the atmosphere.
- Nitrous oxide: Nitrous oxide constitutes about 9% of the total greenhouse gases. Higher concentration of nitrous oxide has been found in and around agricultural lands, owing to the fact that the farmers use large quantities of nitrogen rich fertilizers in their lands.
Is Global Warming at a point of no return?
Nature has its own control system to ensure that the planet remains fit for life. But many people believe that mankind has abused nature to such an extent that nature itself has become our biggest enemy. Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, storms, extreme rains, droughts speak of the same thing. Scientists around the world have stated that we still have some time left in our hands to undo the environmental and climate damage that has occurred. After that the damages will be irreversible. It is now in our hands to ensure that all of us play our part in controlling global warming to prevent environmental disaster in the coming years.