Essay on The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

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The greenhouse effect is an important phenomenon and is currently holding national and international attention. Why is there an interest in the effect? Why are people willing to invest so much time and effort investigating its consequences and willing to suffer by them? What is the basis for believing the effect is real?

The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring process, which is initiated by the sun. It is a result of the fact that there are gases in the Earth’s atmosphere which contain the properties to absorb longwave radiation. What this means is that gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane(CH4) and Water (H2O) act as a blocker to the returning beam of the sun. We will see what a significant effect this has in a
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On average, about 51% of the radiation reaches the surface. (http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7h.html).
This radiation warms the surface of the earth and heat rises from the surface (the percentage of solar energy reflected back by a surface is known as the albedo). This is where the greenhouse gases come into play. As the heat rises to the atmosphere, it gets trapped by the gases, and around 90% of this heat is again sent back towards the surface of the earth. (http://www.physicalgeography.net). As we can see this causes a spiral effect, known as positive feedback.

Although many gases contribute to the greenhouse effect, Carbon Dioxide and water vapour are the most prominent, and receives the most attention in relation to global warming. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are now approaching 360 parts per million. Prior to 1700, levels of carbon dioxide were about 280 parts per million (physicsforum.net). The main cause of this significant increase is the Industrial revolution. Fossil fuel combustion for industry, transportation, space heating, electricity generation and cooking are just some of the major sources of the gas, and explain why it has increased so rapidly in recent times. (physicalgeography.net).

There has been a huge surge of attention towards global warming within the last 20 years. The reason for this interest is because it affects all of us directly. It is
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