April 29, 1997
The Greenhouse Effect
The topic of this essay is Global Warming or "The Greenhouse Effect ". In this essay I will explain what global warming is, what causes it, how it is affecting us, and how we can stop it.
The greenhouse effect is a common term for the effect that certain changes in the lower atmosphere have on temperatures. Water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4) keep ground temperatures at an average of about 15?C. Without them the average would be below the freezing point of water. The gases have this effect because as incoming solar radiation hits the surface, the surface gives off Infrared radiation, or heat, that the gases trap and keep near ground level. The effect is similar to the way in which a greenhouse traps heat, hence the name.
Scientists are concerned that changes in the contents of the atmosphere mainly caused by human activities could cause the Earth's surface to warm up to an extreme degree. Even a small rise in temperature could lead to partial melting of the icecaps. We could experience a major rise in sea level, along with other critical environmental disruptions. A good example of a massive greenhouse effect is Earth's planetary neighbour Venus. Because of Venus's thick CO2 atmosphere, the planet's cloud-covered surface is hot enough to melt lead.
The following are some of the main catastrophic events that would result from Global warming.
When the temperature rises, water evaporates quicker. In some places, it doesn't rain much and the plant life depends on water from lakes and rivers. When the weather gets hotter, the water in that area evaporates and a drought occurs. The plant life would then die and there would be fewer plants to take carbon dioxide out of the air. This would make crops die and hunger and thirst would be a fact of life.
Rising Sea Level
When it gets hotter, it is a known fact that ice melts. If Global Warming makes it hotter at the ice caps, large amounts of ice will melt, letting all the fresh water flow into the ocean. Tons and tons of ice will melt if it gets hot enough and this will cause sea levels to dramatically rise. Coastal cities will flood, destroying many structures.
A change in temperature would mean a significant change in weather. When the temperature grows warmer and more tropical, so will the weather. The catastrophic effects of Global Warming simply intensify winds, rains and storms.
What contributes to The Greenhouse Effect?
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) was naturally in the air before humans were around. It was used to reflect heat back to the earth to keep it warm enough for life. But now humans have dramatically increased the level of CO2 in the air since the industrial
revolution. Now we continue to emit the gas into the air with our cars, and our manufacturing, etc.
Methane (CH4) is another greenhouse gas that was in the air, naturally, before there were humans. It is used a lot in industries as a starting material for many other chemicals. This gas is lighter than air, colourless, odourless, nontoxic, and highly flammable. It comes 8naturally from decomposing matter in swamps.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) were never naturally in the air. This gas is used mostly in aerosol spray cans, refrigeration, air conditioning, cleaning solvents, and packing materials. Not only is it a greenhouse gas and keeps infrared light from leaving, but it also damages the ozone layer.
Nitrous oxide (N20) was also never naturally in the air. Man put it there. Nitrous oxide is more known under the nickname . . . laughing gas.
Well now I have told you about what causes Global Warming and what its effects are, but now, How do we stop it?
We stop it by making sure that there is an adequate amount of Oxygen in the air and by making sure that Carbon Dioxide levels are decreased. We do this by not burning as much fossil fuels as we do right now and by planting trees and plants to convert Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen to keep levels of CO2 down. Every country must ban any product that releases CFC's. These things may sound like enormous sacrifices but if we want to leave this world for our children in some small state of livability, we must.
By Jordan Bruins
Global Warming Info Page
The Global Warming Exchange
Renewables & Global Warming
Public Understanding of Global Warming
The Solar Dome
Global Warming-Understanding the forecast
The 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encylopedia
Richard A. Anthes