What’s the Deal with Greenhouse Gasses?

greenhouse effect on planet Earth illustration

Image from NASA.gov

Greenhouse gasses are not harmful, per se. However; heavy amounts of greenhouse gasses that build up inside the Earth’s atmosphere creates the well known “Greenhouse Effect”. This is when more heat is entering the Earth’s atmosphere than exiting. When sunlight enters Earth, it warms the land. But thick layers of greenhouse gasses act as a blanket, holding in the heat and preventing it from escaping back into the chilly vacuum of space.

Why is this an Issue?

One degree increase in global temperature has a now-noticeable domino effect on the other systems that keep the Earth “alive”. Jet streams in the oceans and in the sky circulate the life-sustaining materials that nourish all living things. From the weather systems that bring rain and snow to the currents that sweep large amounts of algae that feed the fish that feed the predators that keep the populations in check, the world is interconnected in ways science is just beginning to understand.

Where Do Greenhouse Gasses Come From?

Most gasses are emitted by humans or human activities ranging from burning fossil fuels (factories that burn coal to produce energy), raising livestock (cow farts, ya’ll), deforestation (cutting down massive amounts of trees in old-growth rain forests), farming (fertilizing) and other activities.  Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons are the main culprits.  Carbon dioxide has had the biggest total impact, having increased the atmospheric concentration of CO2 by a third since the early 1800’s, according to NASA.gov.  It is a fact that a large amount of CO2 is produced by volcanoes, a natural phenomenon that does nothing but compound the problem.