The Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon allowing life to occur on the planet. It is caused by a series of greenhouse gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) that absorb part of the energy, while the remainder escapes into space. This means that some of the sun's energy becomes trapped –thus making the lower part of the atmosphere, and Earth, warmer.

However, for at least two decades, the scientific community began warning us that the Earth was heating up at an unprecedented rate. Weather has always varied; the current climate change problem is that, within the past two centuries, the rate of these variations has greatly increased, and this acceleration will be exponential if steps are not taken.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Steve Morello
Glacier calving, Monaco Glacier, Liefdefjorden, Spitsbergen, Norway.
© WWF-Canon / Steve Morello
In searching for a reason why this acceleration was occurring, it was discovered that there was a direct relationship between global warming and an increase in emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHG) caused by industrialized societies.

The main GHG released into the atmosphere by man is carbon dioxide (CO2), as a consequence of burning fossil fuels (carbon, petroleum and gas) used in producing energy and for transportation. Other GHGs are methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and perfluorinated compounds. The concentrations of CO2 in 2009 were 386 ppm (parts per million), substantially exceeding the registered concentrations for the past 650,000 years, due primarily to the burning of fossil fuels, and, to a lesser degree, to changes in land use. (Source: wwf.es)

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