The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

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  • The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming
    • The Greenhouse Effect
      • is a result of the heat and light of the Sun which reaches the Earth
      • some of the radiation from the sun is reflected back into space, some is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere and some reaches the surface of the Earth
      • of the radiation reaching the Earth, some is reflected from its surface and is lost into space
      • because the reflected radiation is at a longer wavelength some of this is re-radiated back to Earth by clouds and 'greenhouse gases' that form part of the atmosphere
      • the gases trap this heat close to the Earth's surface, keeping it warm - the greenhouse effect
    • What are the 'greenhouse gases' and where do they come from?
      • carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse house as there is so much of it and it remains in the atmosphere for so much longer than other greenhouse gases
      • CO2 enters the atmosphere from the respiration of living organisms, combustion of fossil fuels and weathering of sedimentary rocks
      • Methane is the other major greenhouse gas
      • methane is produced when decomposers such as bacteria breakdown organic molecule in dead and ecaying matter or when microorganisms in the intestines of cattle digest food eaten
      • large amounts of methane are also produced from the action of anaerobic bacteria in paddy fields
      • CO2 also dissolves in oceans, lakes and ponds and this is an important factor in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
    • Why is the production of greenhouse gases increasing?
      • scientists also believe the destruction of peat bogs causes a surge in the release of carbon dioxide because they are carbon stores in the same way fossil fuels are
      • scientists believe this increase is due to human activity such as deforestation,combustion of fossil fuels and increased food production which by consequence involves release of methane from cattle and rice fields
    • How do greenhouse gases contribute to global warming?
      • mean global temperature has risen by 0.6 dC since 1900, a change known as global warming
      • historically, there have always been periodic fluctuations in the temperature of the Earth
      • scientists believe this is linked with the increase in carbon dioxide levels and therefore is a result of human activities however some people do not believe we can be sure of this
      • Consequenceof Global Warming
        • changes in the distribution of species
        • changes in the Earth's climate - increased flooding and desertification, extreme weather patterns
        • changes in migration patterns e.g. birds
        • raising sea levels - melting of polar ice caps
        • reduction in biodiversity
    • Reducing carbon emissions
      • increases in renewable energy - funding to support renewable energies
        • both on a larger scale e.g. research and on a household level e.g. grants for solar panels
      • becoming more energy efficient and regulations on carbon dioxide emissions
      • changes in agricultural practices - less deforestation,planting more trees
    • Controversy around Global Warming
      • for many years there have been controversy associated with there according, sources and modelling of global warming
        • only recently has there been a growing consensus amongst politicians and scientists about the link between rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures
      • many people still believe that the changes in temperatures we are observing are part of a cyclical pattern the Earth has historically gone through and not due to the impact of human activities such as deforestation and increased use of fossil fuels


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