The Effect of Green House Gases

Earth, the only planet in our solar system or as far as evidence indicates the only planet in the whole Universe that supports life, was not like as we see it now since its beginning. Earth has been able to give a safe home to life because of its unique place in the solar system; it's neither too close to the Sun nor too far away. As Earth is situated away from the Sun preventing it from being a hell of a warm place, there was the possibility that it may have been freezing cold for life to form and flourish here. But thanks to the greenhouse gases present in Earth's atmosphere that play their role in keeping it warm enough.

Greenhouse gases are those gases residing in Earth's atmosphere that absorb and emit radiation and thus, keep Earth warmer. The 'Greenhouse Effect' is the natural process through which these atmospheric constituents absorb sunlight. Sun, the only star in our Solar System, emits light that reaches Earth's atmosphere. The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere absorb the long wave radiation emitted by Sun which warms the atmosphere and these long wave radiations are emitted both upward and downward; the downward emission of radiation by atmosphere is called the 'Greenhouse Effect'.

The greenhouse gases present in Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and ozone. Water vapor is the most abundant gas and plays the lead role in warming earth causing 36-70% of 'greenhouse effect'. Carbon dioxide contributes 9-26%, methane 4-9% while ozone's share is about 3-7%. Some of the other greenhouse gases present in much smaller quantities are sulfur hexafluoride, hydro fluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, per fluorocarbons and nitrous oxide. Two of the major components of Earth's atmosphere, oxygen and nitrogen are thankfully not greenhouse gases otherwise earth's atmosphere would have been far warmer than it is now.

Although, these greenhouse gases have been playing a major role in providing life on Earth the perfect temperature to survive, since the Industrial Revolution human activities have caused increase in quantity of green house gases in the atmosphere. More greenhouse gases will trap more and more heat from Sun giving rise to the Global Warming phenomenon. Rising temperatures can be potentially hazardous to all kinds of life forms on Earth and a major cause for rapid melting of glaciers which in turn will cause sea level to rise submerging many coastlines worldwide. Although, environmentalists are forcing the issue and many Governments are taking steps in the right direction, it is not the greenhouse gases but human intervention in nature that is to be blamed.

Eleanor B. Jhonsons
Contributing Editor

By Eleanor_B._Jhonsons