The Greenhouse Effect Explained

The greenhouse effect was first argued in 1824 by Joseph Fourier. The argument was strengthened in 1827 and 1838 by Claude Pouillet. John Tyndall further studied the greenhouse effect in 1859.

Alexander Graham Bell also stated in 1917 that burning fossil fuels would cause a “hot-house,” and was an advocate of solar energy.

But what is the greenhouse effect?

The “greenhouse effect” is a term used as an example of sorts. A greenhouse is made of glass, and even during the cold winter months, the inside of a greenhouse is warm. The heat is trapped inside of the glass and can’t escape. Even at night, it’s still rather warm inside of a greenhouse.

Earth’s atmosphere provides the same kind of effect.

The atmosphere is just like a greenhouse. Gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, trap heat in the atmosphere to keep the earth warm. Even at night, the greenhouse gases keep the earth warmer.

Natural gases can help humanity stay warm, but as more gases are spewed into the atmosphere, it’s causing a vicious cycle of warming. If the greenhouse effect gets too strong, as we’re seeing in today’s world, the earth gets warmer and warmer.

Greenhouse gases trap the heat, not allowing it to escape from the atmosphere.

Ways to Curb Carbon Dioxide

There are ways for you to curb your carbon dioxide output, but the earth also does its own part to stop the rapid accumulation of carbon dioxide. Plants and trees take in carbon dioxide, so, theoretically, it’s possible to plant more trees, and have plants soak up the carbon dioxide.

But the effect will be minimal.

Trees are being cut down to create farmland for the growing population, and in a lot of places, the trees are burned down, causing the trapped carbon dioxide to be emitted back into the atmosphere.

The ocean also soaks up a good amount of carbon dioxide, but the excess levels of carbon are causing the ocean to get more acidic.

Coral is suffering, too. The coral reefs are not only being destroyed, but they’re becoming sick, too. Naturally, the coral shouldn’t be bleached out; they should be colorful. The coral reefs of the earth lead to biodiversity, and if they’re starting to suffer from too much carbon dioxide, the creaturesof the sea will suffer and die, too.

CO2 and the Role of Climate Change

CO2 plays a major role in climate change, and it’s produced through burning fossil fuels, deforestation and cement production, among other activities. What we know is that for 800,000 years, carbon dioxide levels ranged from 180 ppm to 270 ppm at preindustrial levels.

Industrialization caused these figures to rise.

Fifty years ago, these levels reached 313 ppm, or parts per million.

In 2013, the planet passed the 400-ppm mark, showing that there are more greenhouse gases on the planet than in any other time in the past 800,000 years.

Other planets in the solar system also have the greenhouse effect. Venus has a greenhouse effect, too. The planet is 462C, much hotter than Earth. Venus, according to scientists, may have had water and lower temperatures like earth, but the water evaporated and caused immense heating.

Water vapor is an even more powerful contributor to greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

New Habitable Planets Found?

Sci-fi worlds that humans inhabit are a possibility. NASA and the world’s scientists found habitable planets, and this is good for humanity. A planet is deemed to be within a habitable zone when it’s close to a sun – just like earth.

NASA’s Kepler mission confirmed the first earth-size planet in a habitable zone.

This is an exciting time to be around.

Exciting Possibilities for Humanity

Reaching planets is difficult with the technology we have today. Humans have a difficult time reaching planets in earth’s galaxy, and reaching planets outside of the galaxy brings about a whole new realm of challenges.

There are multiple reports of such findings.

The Kepler-62f is considered a super-Earth that’s 1,200 lightyears away. The planet is in the Lyra constellation, and it’s 1.4 times bigger than the earth we live on. The sun of the Kepler-62f is interesting because it’s smaller and dimmer than the sun in our solar system.

Kepler-62f was announced in 2013 when seven exoplanets were revealed around Kepler-62 and Kepler-69. Kepler-62e is 1.6 times the radius of earth and revolves around a sun, too.

What’s interesting is that these planets are primarily water, and this poses a problem for technology. Fire would be nonexistent, metallurgy and access to electricity wouldn’t exist on the planet based on the technology that earthlings know.

But that doesn’t mean that intelligent life doesn’t exist on these planets.

Differences in gravity pulls would allow a human to walk on Kepler-62f, but oxygen would pose entirely different issues.

Kepler-186f is reminiscent of Earth, and it’s a world that’s a lot like earth. The planet’s size is known, but the mass of the planet is unknown. Scientists believe the planet is rocky, and this is a step in the right direction for hope of life on other planets.

Kepler-186f is 500 lightyears away from Earth in Cygnus.

Four companion planets reside in Cygnus. The planet revolves around the sun every 130 days and receives one-third the energy that Earth receives from the sun. Kepler’s mission is to find planets that mimic Earth, and this is the best humanity can hope for in finding a planet that can be inhabited by humans.

There’s also the exciting prospect of life on another planet.

The distance from the sun is essential for life. Kepler-186f, for example, has four companion planets that whiz around the sun, but they’re too close and hot to be habitable.

Hope of new and habitable planets is natural for humanity.

The possibility of life on other planets leads to hope that humanity and life can go on well after earth’s sun dies out. Climate changes and issues on earth would be less relevant if humanity could start to develop other planets.

Resources and materials on these planets bring about further possibilities of new materials, energy and countless resources we may or may not have on Earth.

What’s even more interesting is the possibility of numerous interstellar planets that scientists can explore, learn from, and hope for potential life. Humans may not be alone in the universe after all.

Household Contributors to Climate Change

Climate change is a real danger. Sea levels will rise, species will die out or become endangered, and cities will be underwater. The effects of climate change are being seen already, and everyone can do their part to curb the effects.

You can try to change your behaviors and habits to reduce your carbon footprint.

Household Contributors to Climate Change

The first step to curbing your impact on climate change is awareness of your household behaviors that lead to climate change. Eliminating your impact entirely may be impossible, but you can make positive changes.

A few of the household contributors to climate change include:

  • Lightbulbs
  • Refrigerators
  • Washers and dryers
  • Television
  • Inefficient heating units

The easiest changes are changes that are the least costly:

  • Lightbulbs – Replace old lightbulbs with lower wattage bulbs, or switch to energy efficient bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs are equally as bright and require less energy consumption than incandescent bulbs.
  • Refrigerators – A small change in your refrigerator’s temperature makes a big impact. Turn the thermostat from 33 degrees to 38 degrees, and turn up the freezer’s thermostat to 0 degrees.
  • Washers – Cleaning your clothes on “warm wash, cold rinse” is more energy efficient and has a lower impact on climate change than a “hot wash, warm rinse.”
  • Dryers – Dryers are energy intensive, and the one thing you can do to lower the impact is hang a clothes’ line to hang your clothes during the warmer months of the year.
  • Television – Make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of television you watch daily. A reduction in television watching of just 25% can lead to a positive reduction in climate change impact.
  • Heating Units – A 92% efficient heating unit has a great impact on climate change. This is a costly addition to a home, but it’s one of the best ways to reduce your impact.

If you can’t purchase a new heating unit, you can find a number of electric shower reviews that allow you to heat the water at a high efficiency and for far cheaper than replacing a hot water heater. You also benefit from precision control over your shower water, so it’s more comfortable.

Transport and Automobile Effects and Climate Change

The automobile industry made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions. You might not have the money to buy a Tesla or replace your current vehicle with a gas-efficient model. There are steps you can still take to reduce the amount of carbon you put into the atmosphere through transportation.

  1. Carpool: A simple change, such as carpooling, can reduce your carbon footprint. This change reduces carbon output drastically.
  2. Lower Your Speeds: Reducing highway speeds from 70 MPH to 60 MPH also reduces the overall carbon output of your auto. This is a change everyone can make.

The optimal choice is to buy a vehicle that’s more energy efficient. A switch from a 20 MPG vehicle to a 30 MPG is drastic, and it’s an option to consider when you’re purchasing a new vehicle.

Small, impactful changes in your behaviors and being conscientious about the decisions you make will lead to a cleaner, healthier planet.

Which Countries Are the Biggest Contributors to Global Warming?

Fossil fuels contribute to carbon dioxide release and global warming. Deniers of climate change suggest that the heating of the planet is a natural cycle, and it is to some extent. But we know that carbon dioxide can be released into the atmosphere quickly due to human interference.

A good example of this is with trees.

Companies are burning trees at a rapid rate to make room for farm land. The issue is that trees trap carbon dioxide, so when they’re burned down, they release this carbon back into the atmosphere.

Fossil fuels work in much the same way.

So, our actions are causing a reaction. You know the saying “for every action, there is a reaction?” The “reaction” or consequence for industrialization is that there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than in any time in the past 800,000 years.

The release of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since 1854 can be traced back to producing cement and burning fossil fuels. How much have humans contributed to these releases? Approximately 66% of all carbon dioxide and methane released into the atmosphere since 1854 can be traced back to these two activities.

We released 150 times more carbon in 2011 than in 1850.

Which Countries Contribute Most to Global Warming?

As you’ve probably guessed, smaller countries often have a lesser impact on global warming. The biggest contributors to global warming include the world’s most industrialized countries:

China

China produces the most carbon dioxide in the world. The country doubles the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the United States, and it’s been the largest contributor to climate change since 2006.

Approximately 23% of all CO2 is emitted from China.

If the country keeps its current pace, it will have double the CO2 output by 2040.

United States

The United States may not produce as much carbon dioxide as China, but it’s still a major contributor to the problem. The Obama administration aimed to cut CO2 emissions by 17% by 2020, but the recession led to higher emission levels.

The President-elect, Donald Trump, may quash the Paris Climate deal, too, which would have dire effects on the country.

India

India is in a unique position because the country doesn’t have a reliable power grid. The country plans to double its coal production to bring electricity to the entire country, and this is a major issue, as it will boost the country’s CO2 emissions.

India has committed to reducing its carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 20% – 25% by 2020.

The Largest Contributors by Share of CO2 Emissions

If you look at the entire share of carbon emissions, there are really two countries which contribute to nearly 40% of all carbon emissions:

  • China – 23.43%
  • US – 14.69%

Other major contributors to climate change, by share of CO2 emissions, are:

  • India – 5.70%
  • Russia – 4.87%
  • Brazil – 4.17%
  • Japan – 3.61%
  • Indonesia – 2.31%
  • Germany – 2.23%

The rest of the countries make up less than 2% contribution shares to CO2 emissions.

If the Paris Climate Agreement holds, China and the United States will need to make a major push toward reducing their CO2 emissions for it to work.