The Greenhouse Effect

You heard about the greenhouse effect before and the greenhouse gases (GHG).

But have you have ever been in an actual greenhouse before, where vegetables are grown? Simply put, the principle is that by creating heat and moisture in a closed space, vegetables can grow in ideal conditions.

Greenhouse    Source: CAS Data Loggers

Our planet works in a similar manner

The atmosphere has evolved over billions of years to allow life on Earth. The sun is what makes it possible. It gives our planet radiation (the sun’s rays!) and some of this energy (about 30%) is retained in the atmosphere. This is what creates an average temperature on the Earth’s surface and oceans, which allows for diverse plant, animal and human life (our greenhouse). Some radiation returns to space and a balance is created between the sun’s rays that are retained in the earth’s atmosphere and those  that  are reflected back.

GHESource: IPCC

Since the industrial area, however, humans have started to emit in the atmosphere large quantity of gases, deriving from burning fossil fuels mostly, that are impeding a certain amount of radiations from the Sun to get back in the space. These gases keep a larger amount of radiations in the atmosphere. As a result the Earth surface, oceans and atmosphere get warmer and, therefore, climate is forced to change. This is, in simple terms, what we call the Greenhouse Gas Effect (GHG effect) but if you want to know more, please visit here.

Let’ use another simpler example: when you sit in a closed car under the sun, without air conditioning, very soon it will get very hot. The car does not let the heat out. Because our way of living, producing and consuming is based on burning fossil fuels mostly (but also other causes we will discuss below), humans are forcing the climate to change rapidly.