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What Is The Greenhouse Effect?


Photo by James Orr on Unsplash

The greenhouse effect is a natural process that occurs when gases in earth’s atmosphere trap the sun’s heat warming the earth’s surface.

 As the sun’s energy reaches the earth’s atmosphere, some of it is reflected into space and the rest absorbed and re-radiated by greenhouse gases. The absorbed energy warms the atmosphere and surface of the earth.

Greenhouse gases

 They include;

  • Carbon dioxide; It enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels, solid waste, and trees. It is removed from the atmosphere when absorbed as part of the biological carbon cycle.
  • Methane; this is emitted in the production and transport of oil, coal. Can also be from the decay of organic waste,
  • Nitrous oxide; It is emitted during wastewater treatment, industrial activities, fossil fuels combustion.
  • Fluorinated gases; these Include hydrofluorocarbons, nitrogen trifluoride. They are emitted from industrial processes. They are high global warming potential gases.

The greenhouse effects include; natural and human-made greenhouse gas effect.

  • Natural greenhouse effect. This is caused by amounts of greenhouse gases naturally found in the atmosphere. It makes the earth’s temperatures warmer, allowing life to exist and making the earth a comfortable place to live.
  • Man-made greenhouse gas effect. It is caused by amounts of greenhouse gases that humans add to the atmosphere as a result of his activities. Due to industrialization, there’s the presence of long-lasting greenhouse gases increasing the earth’s temperature.

The greenhouse effect works like a greenhouse. The exchange of radiations that warms the planet works the same way as a greenhouse. A greenhouse is a building constructed of glass used for modern farming. It is used to grow plants. It stays warm even during winter. During the day, as the sunlight shines, it warms the plant and air inside. At night when it’s cold outside, it stays warm inside. This is because its glass walls trap the heat and can’t escape.

The enhanced greenhouse effect

Human activities such as burning fossil fuels, land clearing are changing the natural greenhouse effect of the earth. This increases the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere like methane, carbon dioxide. It causes them to retain more heat and increase the temperature on the planet. It harms the climate leading to global warming. The greenhouse gases emission sources include; electricity and heat production, agriculture and other land use, transportation, industry, and buildings.

The consequences of the greenhouse effect

  • Flooding of islands and coastal cities; this is due to the rise in sea levels.
  • Hurricanes; These are connected with sea temperature. Greenhouse effect increases the intensity of the extreme climatic events.
  • Migration of species. Animal species will migrate to survive the changes in climatic patterns due to the progressive increase in temperatures. Human beings also have to move because of flooding and droughts.
  • Desertification of fertile areas. Global warming contributes to the desertification of most arid regions. These destroy their biological potential turning them into barren and unproductive land with no real value.
  • Impact on agriculture and livestock. It alters the length of growing seasons. Also, the change in temperature and season influence the growth of invasive weeds, insects, and diseases which affect crops. Change in climate also affects livestock in their reproduction, diseases, and metabolism.

The consequences of the greenhouse effect on human health

  • Shortage of food; Climate changes bring about uncertainty in food ability. The decline in agricultural production brings about food shortages.
  • The spread of diseases and pandemics; There are problems brought about by pollution. It also causes infectious diseases like cholera and malaria, which spread more across the planet. The extreme heats also increase respiratory and cardiovascular health problems

Solving/ reducing the greenhouse effect on the earth

  1. Plants help to balance the greenhouse effect on the earth. They take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. Ocean also absorbs the excess of carbon dioxide in the air. But the increase of this gas changes water making it more acidic. The acidic water is harmful to ocean creatures.
  2. Burning less fossil fuel or stopping the burning of altogether. These means shifting to clean energy technologies like solar and wind and using renewable energy.
  3. Humans can adapt to impacts of climate change through technological solutions like coastal defenses, changes in consumption habits reducing meat and more organic products.
  4. Expanding water supplies through conservation, rain catchment, reuse.
  5. Adjusting location, planting dates, and a variety of crops.
  6. To cope with warming and flooding, roads and rail lines should be planned. Also the use of public transport and other non-polluting means like bicycles or electric vehicles.
  7. Diversification of tourism attractions in case existing ones disappear.
  8. Strengthening energy infrastructure, reduction of dependence on one source of energy, improving the efficiency of energy.
  9. Creation of heat- health action plans, improving disease surveillance and control, boosting of emergency medical services.
  10. To reduce the rising sea levels, consider the building of seawalls, creating marshes.
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