What are Greenhouse Gases?
Greenhouse gases are quite simply the gases in the atmosphere that produce the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the term for when the gases in our atmosphere trap the heat from the sun to the earth. Some greenhouse gases are natural, and therefore actually help to promote good levels of the greenhouse effect and sustain life on earth. However, other greenhouse gases are man made, and harmful to the environment.
Natural Greenhouse Gases
Natural greenhouse gases are those that have been in the earth’s atmosphere since the dawn of time. These gases naturally trap heat from the sun’s rays and hold them within the earth. These gases and the heat that they hold are necessary for survival of life on earth as we know it. Without them, the earth would be an average of fifty four degrees colder.
The natural greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and water vapors. These natural greenhouse gases allow normal, healthy amounts of heat to be trapped on the earth. Although these gases are made naturally there are ways that mankind has contributed to the occurrence of these natural greenhouse gases.
Man Made Greenhouse Gases
Man made greenhouse gases are those created by the industrialization of the earth. These greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, as well as methane. Although these greenhouse gases occur naturally, the man made form of these gases is much worse for the environment.
These man made greenhouse gases occur from various forms of industry. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere through the burning of fuels such as wood, coal, oil, and waste. Nitrous oxide is the byproduct of many agricultural and industrial operations. Finally, methane emissions are caused by the decomposition of organic waste, such as land fills.
The build up of these greenhouse gases cause the atmosphere to retain unhealthy levels of heat on the earth. This is responsible for the condition that scientists call global warming. As the greenhouse gases build, more heat is trapped on the earth, and the overall temperature of the earth rises. To stop this condition, lower levels of greenhouse gases must be emitted to the atmosphere.