Posted by: admin | May 24, 2009

What are “Greenhouse Gases”?

hot sunWe hear so much about “greenhouse gases”, but what are they exactly?

These are gases which are released into the atmosphere which contribute to global warming by trapping heat instead of allowing the heat from the sun to escape back into space. These gases act in a similar way to the plastic roof of a greenhouse which allows the light and heat from the sun to enter, but not to escape, creating warmth within.

This extra warming is dangerous for the earth, since it effects global climate in an unnatural way and can lead to a rise in sea level, more intense and dangerous weather conditions, and other bad effects.

There are some greenhouse gases that occur naturally, and others which are produced as a result of human activities. These gases are:

•    Carbon dioxide (CO₂) – Burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas, solid waste, trees, and other chemical reactions all contribute to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

•   Methane (CH₄) – This gas is produced when coal, natural gas and oil is produced and transported. Organic waste decay in municipal solid waste landfills and livestock production also add to methane emissions.

•   Nitrous Oxide (N₂O) – Industry and agricultural activities contribute these gases to the atmosphere, as well the burning of fossil fuels and solid waste.

•    Fluorinated Gases – These gases, such as hydrofuorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride are powerful greenhouse gases and are often called “High Global Warming Potential” gases or High GWP gases. These are synthetic gases produced during many types of industrial processes.

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