The Science of Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases play an important role in Climate Change. Storm Team 10's David Siple dives into the science.

Posted: Feb 17, 2020 6:33 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - To be able to understand climate change, we must learn about the science first. The top four gases in our atmosphere and the air we breathe are nitrogen which makes up 78% of the air, oxygen at 20%, argon at 0.9%, and then carbon dioxide at .03%.

Now a greenhouse gas is something that simply traps heat in our atmosphere. Some common greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are water vapor (H2O), methane (CH4), ozone (O3), and probably the most common, which is carbon dioxide (CO2).

Wasn't carbon dioxide the 4th highest compound found in the air?
Yes! Is that bad? No.

This is why Earth is such a habitable place to live! With carbon dioxide in the air, it has allowed our earth to stay at a warm average temperature at 59 degrees Fahrenheit. That carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) traps the sun's heat on earth and keeps us warm. This is the Greenhouse Effect.

The sun's powerful rays come into our atmosphere and the greenhouse gases trap the heat and act like a blanket around the earth.
Now, what if we add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere?

The burning of fossil fuels from vehicles and factories, to agricultural activities, adding more of these greenhouse gases will simply do what it's been doing since the earth has had an atmosphere. The earth will naturally warm up.

Global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have increased by 43% since 1990 based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Annual Greenhouse Gas Index. Global average temperatures increasing year after year, receding ice sheets and melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and more frequent extreme weather events have all been affected by climate change.

"One of the biggest obstacles to making a start on climate change is that it has become a cliche before it has even been understood" - Tim Flannery

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