The Greenhouse Effect for Dummies

You have probably heard about the greenhouse gasses affecting climate change but you still have no idea what the greenhouse effect is. Don’t think it’s too complicate to understand. Let me simplify it for you😁

Let’s start with explaining what a greenhouse is:

Image result for greenhouse drawing
source: http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/greenhouse

A greenhouse is a house made of glass where people grow different vegetables and other plants. The reason why people successfully grow their vegetables inside a greenhouse is because the greenhouse keeps them warm, EVEN DURING WINTER! Now, what’s the secret behind this? Sunlight shines in to warm whatever is inside the greenhouse and it stays trapped by the glass and can’t escape. During the day, the inside gets warmer and warmer and it stays like that even when the sun is not shinning anymore (at nighttime).

Now, this is exactly what happens on Earth: the sun shines through the atmosphere, which acts as the greenhouse, and the “greenhouse gases” keep the Earth warm, acting like the roof of the greenhouse.

Image result for greenhouse earth inside
source: https://climatekids.nasa.gov/greenhouse-effect/

The Earth and the Sun act like “blackbodies”, which are objects that absorb all light and emit according to ideal theory from physics (it’s getting too complicated!!! Don’t worry I will stop here). All this means is that: the Earth absorbs radiation from the sun but it also produces heat internally. At night, the Earth will cool down and it will radiate heat back to space. However, as I said before the “greenhouse gases” will trap some heat and they will keep the Earth warm (at approximately 59 degrees Fahrenheit).

Image result for the greenhouse effect
source: http://astrocampschool.org/greenhouse-effect/

😎Easy, right?

So, how is this related to climate change? Well, the greenhouse effect is something that happens naturally. The problem is that when there is too much of the greenhouse gases, then they trap too much heat and the Earth gets warmer than what it should.

The main greenhouse gases are Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), and Fluorinated gases. Humans have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by burning an exaggerated amount of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), solid waste, and tress for example.

Naturally, the Earth has its own ways to reduce greenhouse gases. Trees take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, and the Ocean has the ability to absorb a lot of excess carbon dioxide in the air. Unfortunately, instead of planting trees, we are getting rid of them so we are doing the opposite of what we need to do. Also, is not good for aquatic life that the Oceans absorb so much carbon dioxide because COmakes the water more acidic and this hurts aquatic life.

Now that you are aware of this problem, you can start helping by reducing your carbon dioxide emissions: plant a tree, walk, ride a bicycle, use public transportation, eat and buy locally-produced organic food, reuse and recycle, support clean energy sources, and the list goes on and on…

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