What causes the greenhouse effect?

Lots of debate has risen recently about the causes of greenhouse effect. Some people argue that the increase in the Earth’s temperature is part of the natural cycle of the climate and has nothing to do with pollution. Others argue that such a dramatic phenomenon cannot be explained only by natural causes and human activity should be taken into consideration. But what does real scientific data suggest?

Scientists have spent many years trying to understand the actual causes of the greenhouse effect. They have investigated temperature fluctuation during the last century and have taken into account many natural and human factors. The conclusion is that current global warming cannot be explained by natural causes alone. The only way to explain it is to include in the equation factors that have to do with human activity and mainly the emission of greenhouse gases.

There are several kinds of greenhouse gases. The most important is carbon dioxide (CO2) which comes from the burning of fossil fuel in cars and factories. However, there are several more like methane which comes from landfills and the digestive system of animals and nitrous dioxide that comes from fertilizers and chemicals used in refrigerators. Apart from this, the greenhouse effect is worsened by the intense deforestation which causes millions of trees to be cut every year. If these trees were preserved, they would absorb tones of CO2 which would slow down the greenhouse effect.

Last but not least, there are various greenhouse gases which trap different amount of heat in the atmosphere. Some of them have even worse effects than CO2. For example, a molecule of methane warms the Earth 20 times more than a molecule of CO2 and a molecule of nitrous oxide warms the Earth 300 times more. Some other chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (which have been forbidden because they also destroy the ozon) trap heat in the atmosphere thousands of times more. Fortunately, none of these chemicals has a high concentration in the atmosphere.

Which do you think are the causes of the greenhouse effect? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by commons.wikimedia.org

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