With global warming still in the fore and still a big issue, a lot of people are still uninformed properly about it! A lot of places are getting warm, forcing quite a number of people to head off to the beach or fan themselves endlessly. Many are still under the assumption that greenhouse gases, which contribute to making the planet warm, should really go. What they don’t know is that the primary purpose of those gases is to prevent heat from escaping into space, preventing the world from turning into one huge snowball! If they didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be able to live on this planet. This little article will tell you about the most powerful greenhouse gases in the world. Some may even surprise you.
1. Water vapor – Yes. Water. Right on top of the list. Water vapor contributes from 36% to 66% of the world’s greenhouse effect. It’s also the most abundant greenhouse gas! Concentrations of water vapor fluctuate throughout the world, and humans don’t affect it directly on a large scale. In addition, warm air caused by the greenhouse effect can carry more water vapor, amplifying the greenhouse effect further. However, humidity is constant. The net effect is overall positive, and also protects against the excess carbon dioxide.
2. Carbon Dioxide – Ah, the gas that many people blame for heating up the earth. It contributes 9% to 26% of the greenhouse effect depending on area. The world’s species and environmental cycles produce this gas naturally, up to twenty times that of what we contribute! Nature cycles the carbon dioxide through plants and weathering, but human production has speeded it up more than nature can account for. Majority of manmade carbon dioxide comes from burning fossil fuels and deforestation.
3. Methane – This gas causes 4% to 9% of the greenhouse effect. Human methane production mostly comes from livestock. By itself, it is an effective greenhouse gas, but it can transforms to water and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which makes it quite effective in warming the earth! If that isn’t enough, it also turns into ozone, which is another greenhouse gas! This is why the amount of methane around is has been more or less constant, and it is why its effect is considered small since many who measure it do not include what it turns into.
4. Ozone – This gas we all know and love as protector against the sun rays is also a greenhouse gas. It causes only 3% to 7% of the greenhouse effect. Ozone causes irritation to the respiratory system at ground level, but is normally very light at that level, choosing instead to concentrate higher up. However, the concentration of ozone at ground level is increasing, because of pollution! This is especially concentrated in populated areas. It decays quickly to normal oxygen.
Now that you know a little bit more about these gases, the question remains. What can we do? What we can, of course. How about you? What do you know about greenhouse gases?