According to most climate scientists, the main cause of global warming is the greenhouse effect. But before knowing the causes of greenhouse effect one must understand what is greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect increases the temperature of our planet by trapping heat into its atmosphere. This keeps the Earth’s temperature higher than it would be if the only source of warming was direct heating by the Sun.
There are certain gases in the earth’s atmosphere which block the heat from escaping. These gases contribute to greenhouse effect which results in global warming. The gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect are listed in the points mentioned below.
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
It is one of the most important contributors to the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide is released through a natural process as well as manmade processes. Through a natural process the gas is released by volcanic eruptions, forest fires, etc. and also through human activities like vehicles, burning fossil fuels, etc. carbon dioxide is becoming one of the most important reasons for climate change. The atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has increased three times since the Industrial Revolution.
- Water Vapor
The gaseous form of water is called as water vapor. It acts as a feedback to the Earth’s climate. Water vapor is the most abundant gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect. It increases as the atmosphere gets warmer. Thus increasing precipitation and clouds, which are the most important feedback mechanisms to greenhouse effect.
Both human activities and natural sources produce this hydrocarbon gas. The production of methane in the Earth’s atmosphere includes agricultural activities, decomposition of wastes in the landfills, rice cultivation, manure management, domestic livestock, etc. if we see on a molecule-for-molecule basis, this hydrocarbon greenhouse gas is more active than carbon dioxide, but methane is not so abundant in the atmosphere.
- Nitrous Oxide
Nitrous oxides are the most powerful greenhouse gases that are produced by humans. The gas is produced by human activities like soil cultivation methods, use of organic and commercial fertilizers, combustion of fossil fuels, production of nitric acid, burning of biomass, etc. Nitrous oxides also contribute to air pollution and acid rain formation along with greenhouse effect.
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
These are synthetic compounds which are made in industries. Chlorofluorocarbons are used in a various number of applications like air conditioners, refrigerators, etc. it is one of the main contributors to the ozone layer destruction and the greenhouse effect.
We must take strong steps to reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and prevent global warming. Subscribe to BYJU’S YouTube Channel to watch interactive video lessons on various interesting science topics.