The atmosphere is something that is around us eve day but do we really think about the changes that occur in it. It isn’t that we just aren’t paying attention, but more of the act that it is hard to notice slight changes over long periods of time. Every day gases are released into the air by all living material.
The gases in the air used for many important things. For example, hydrogen is related by volcanoes, which can give energy to the cell: photosynthesis has evolved to take the gas carbon dioxide and create food and release oxygen: nitrogen is a gas used in our air, oceans, and solid earth, as an essential part of living things.
Carbon dioxide is also involved in a process where it is stored as limestone and marble, as gas and oil and coal, and is inorganic material in the soil. Not only do these gases make up our atmosphere, but they also keep the temperature of the earth stable. Carbon dioxide absorbs the radiation that would otherwise escape the earth. By adding oxygen and taking away carbon dioxide causes the earth to be cooler than it would otherwise be. These are just two of the many gases that make up the atmosphere we live in today.
The temperature in our earth is directly determined by these five gases. If not enough are in the air, then the earth is too cold, but if too many gases are released into the air, then we have the problem of things heating up. Even though the causes of global warming are known, the exact effects it will have on us in the future are yet to be determined. People need to understand that they need to act now in order to keep the world as we now know it the same in the future.
The earth’s atmosphere is made up of five layers of gases that act as a blanket covering the earth. This blanket keeps in some of these gases to keep the planet warm. It is called the greenhouse effect. This is because it acts like greenhouse windows by letting in sunlight to warm the surface and air, and hold in most of the solar-generated heat. The greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide, methane, oxygen, nitrogen, ozone, and water vapor, as well as other atmospheric gases. The greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect by capturing and absorbing solar energy. For without the greenhouse effect, the planet would be inhospitable to life because the surface temperature of the earth’s surface would be cooler by 63 degrees F. this world means the average temperature would be 19 degrees C which causes the earth to be barren.
Many scientists believe that the increase in temperature is caused by humans. The greenhouse effect increase because of the burning of fossil fuels such as natural gases, oil, and coal. These cause more heat to be trapped in the atmosphere than needed. Carbon dioxide is the most important gas that humans have affected. It has increased by nearly 30% since 1700 because of human destruction. The amount of fossil fuels we burn each year has increased dramatically.
Between 1850 and 1950 60 million tons of fossil fuels were burned. Now the world burns at least five billion tons of fossil fuels each year. This means that we are adding between 15 and 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every 12 months. This is causing a steady increase of carbon dioxide into our air.
Another way humans increase the amount of carbon dioxide is by deforestation. Huge numbers of trees are cut down each ear to clear land for farming and building. The rainforest is really needed because they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into our atmosphere. Also, when trees decay or are turned, the carbon dioxide that was absorbed is put back into the air. George M. Woodwell and Kilaparti Rama Krishna said, “Deforestation is the second biggest source of carbon dioxide, only the burning of oil, coal, and gas production more,. If global warming is to be slowed, the world must not only stop cutting and burning large forests but replace the many millions of acres that have been destroyed.” Deforestation is most severe in the tropical regions where the rain forests grow.
Most of the rain forests are around developing countries. The people of these countries have to find a way to get land, buy food, and get money. The only way they know how is to go into these forests and clear land to create more space for farms.
More recently, the number of rainforests destroyed each year is causing attention. Thirty-three acres of rainforest are chopped or burned down every minute, and up to 25% of the world’s species will be extinct by the next century. The great plains that we have now were once one enormous forest before the Europeans settled. It is said that if deforestation continues at its current rate, all of the world’s forests could be destroyed within only a few decades. It is very important that we stop destroying our forests and replant what has been destroyed.
Another cause of global warming is El Nino. From December through March, off the coast of Peru and Ecuador, a warm ocean current appears called El Nino. It is said to have the long-term effects of drought and severe storms. Nicholas E. Graham says that there is a link between El Nino and the rising global temperatures. This warm current has caused the ocean and atmospheric temperatures to rise. This is just a natural way of global warming that we can do nothing about.
Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas. Even though there is less methane in the air than carbon dioxide, methane is much more absorbent of infrared radiation than carbon dioxide. Methane comes from many places. Large amounts of methane gas come from cattle. The plants and grass that the cattle eat are broken down by different types of microorganisms. Methane is then produced by their digestion process. These cattle belch every two minutes and release methane gas each time they do it. Since one cow emits a half-pound of methane a day and there are 1.3 billion cattle in the world, more than 100 million tons of methane are released each year into the air.
Another type of animal that releases methane gas is a termite. Even though they are very small, they are also very numerous. Their population is increasing at a fast rate because of deforestation, causing us to pay attention to their effect on global warming. Termites thrive on barren land that is left by the destruction of trees, causing them to multiply greatly.
Another source of methane is microorganisms that live in water-logged soil. These are places like rice paddies, bogs, and swamps. Rice paddies have stems on their rice plants that act as tubes where methane can travel from the soil through the tube and into the atmosphere. Methane also gets into the atmosphere from garbage dumps and coal mines. One potential methane source is the arctic tundra. The soil is very rich in peat which stays frozen year-round. If global warming were to eventually melt this soil, it could release all of this methane gas that is in the peat and cause the greenhouse effect to become much worse.
Nitrous acid, also known as laughing gas, is also a greenhouse gas. It comes from the burning of fossil fuels and from an automobile’s exhaust. Not much is known about how much is in the atmosphere, but it is to be taken very seriously. It causes many problems because it can stay in the air for more than a century. Since it can stay in the atmosphere for so long, it makes it very hard to get it out. Even if no more nitrous acid is released into the air, whatever is up there will be there for over one hundred years.
CFCs or chlorofluorocarbons are chemicals that are used in factories, air conditioners, refrigerators, spray cans, and paint thinner. It not only absorbs infrared radiation but can stay in the atmosphere for 70-150 years. The reason for concern is that it eats away at the ozone. There is already a large hole over the Antarctic and the ozone is thinning over the North pole.
The greenhouse effect can cause many impacts on the world we now know. One impact that it will have is it will cause a rise in temperature. This will probably occur greater at higher latitudes than at places closer to the equator. The North and South pole’s temperatures may rise twice as fast as the temperature of the average of the world’s temperature. Another impact is the rising sea levels. As the temperature increases, the surface waters of the ocean will slowly warm causing the seawater to expand. This expansion is known as a thermal expansion which is whereas water is heated it expands and takes up more space. Just thermal expansion itself will cause the sea level to increase by many inches.
As the temperatures continue to increase, many more changes will occur. Mountain glaciers will melt, as well as the great masses of ice and snow that cover Greenland and Antarctica. As the snow melts, large amounts of water will fill the ocean. This will raise sea level by many feet. The Arctic cape at the North pole will melt, but it won’t cause a rise in sea level. This is because it takes up as much room in its frozen form as it does in its liquid form.