The Greenhouse Effect 2 Essay Research Paper

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The Greenhouse Effect 2 Essay, Research Paper A common misconception held by most people is that the “greenhouse effect” is a phenomenon mainly caused by human CO2 production. This is a gross misunderstanding; actually, the greenhouse effect is a natural occurrence. Certain gases in the atmosphere trap infrared radiation, or heat, that would otherwise escape from the earth’s atmosphere into outer space, this heat is a result of the greenhouse effect which is absolutely essential to the survival of every species on earth. The greenhouse gas that is most abundant, not to mention hating the largest effect on climate, is water vapor. Water vapor makes up 97% of all greenhouse gases. Of the 3% of greenhouse gases not comprised of water vapor, the largest component is carbon

dioxide. About 4% of the carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere is due to man-made carbon dioxide coming from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. These fossil fuels have been trapped deep beneath the earth’s surface so their introduction in to the earth’s atmosphere causes an imbalance which has been alleged to cause adverse effects on the environment. In addition to CO2, Methane (CH5), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) also constitute greenhouse gases. The natural CO2 production corresponding to the greenhouse effect is known as the carbon cycle. Carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere into plants when they breathe, and that carbon gets stored in the body of the plant

itself. When plants are burned or when alcohol made from plants is burned, the carbon dioxide that results does not necessarily represent a man-made addition to the greenhouse effect, since the carbon in plants originally came from the air, and therefore already existed as a part of the carbon cycle which transfers carbon back and forth between the atmosphere and the surface of the earth. Burning vegetation only increases the greenhouse effect if it is done on a massive scale without the replacement of the lost vegetation. For example, massive deforestation in developing nations has not been offset by new forest growth elsewhere, and therefore represents a significant portion of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and an imbalance within the carbon cycle. In addition to natural CO2

emissions and water vapor, N2O, or methane, also contributes to the greenhouse effect. Methane is produced from the decomposition of organic materials, and therefore in normal amounts does not have adverse effects on the atmosphere. There has been questions however, about whether or not manmade sources of methane, such as cattle raising and rice growing be more damaging to the environment than CO2. If this were the case, more research would be necessary before any policies involving the greenhouse effect are introduced. There has been great controversy over whether or not a build-up of greenhouse gases from human activities is causing the earth’s temperature to rise beyond natural levels, and what the effects of this possibility might be. Many people have shown distress at the

plausibility or perhaps eventuality of this prospect. This concern is evident in the form of the recent United Nations convention on climate change, better known as the Kyoto protocol which dealt with industrial restrictions on account of increasing man-made CO2 emissions. Under much criticism from American industries, the Clinton administration just signed this controversial document which restricts the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and exhibits a commonly held concern about the greenhouse effect. This protocol came about because many scientists believe that rising levels of carbon dioxide emissions will cause climatic changes such as warmer, drier, weather in the northern hemisphere and wetter weather in tropical and subtropical regions. These changes could