Global Warming and Greenhouse Gases Essay

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Global Warming and Greenhouse Gases The earth’s climate is predicted to change because human activities are altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the buildup of greenhouse gases –– primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The heat-trapping property of these gases is undisputed. Although uncertainty exists about exactly how earth’’s climate responds to these gases, global temperatures are rising. Go to the Emissions section for much more on greenhouse gases. Energy from the sun drives the earth’’s weather and climate, and heats the earth’’s surface; in turn, the earth radiates energy back into space. Atmospheric greenhouse gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other gases) trap some of the…show more content…
Why are greenhouse gas concentrations increasing? Scientists generally believe that the combustion of fossil fuels and other human activities are the primary reason for the increased concentration of carbon dioxide. Plant respiration and the decomposition of organic matter release more than 10 times the CO2 released by human activities; but these releases have generally been in balance during the centuries leading up to the industrial revolution with carbon dioxide absorbed by terrestrial vegetation and the oceans. What has changed in the last few hundred years is the additional release of carbon dioxide by human activities. Fossil fuels burned to run cars and trucks, heat homes and businesses, and power factories are responsible for about 98% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, 24% of methane emissions, and 18% of nitrous oxide emissions. Increased agriculture, deforestation, landfills, industrial production, and mining also contribute a significant share of emissions. In 1997, the United States emitted about one-fifth of total global greenhouse gases. Estimating future emissions is difficult, because it depends on demographic, economic, technological, policy, and institutional developments. Several emissions scenarios have been developed based on differing projections of these underlying factors. For example, by 2100, in the absence of emissions control policies, carbon dioxide concentrations are projected to be
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