20 Jul

How do greenhouse gases harm the environment

How do greenhouse gases harm the environment?

Greenhouse gases are abbreviated GHG. They can be released through natural processes or human activity. Natural processes that emit greenhouse gases include volcanic eruptions while many human activities can lead to their accumulation including industrial emissions and the automotive industry.

What are greenhouse gases anyway? These are gases that accumulate at the earth's atmosphere and absorb infrared radiation. The gases make the earth like a greenhouse. They keep the heat on earth from escaping. All the heat is trapped on the earth's surface and hence the temperatures of the earth keep rising.

There are many greenhouse gases that are emitted from natural and human activities. Each gas has different levels of impact on the environment. Those that have the greatest impact include nitrous oxide, methane, carbon dioxide and fluorinated gases. The greenhouse gases that occur naturally are not harmful to the environment but the increased amount of the gases produced by human activities is what is harming the environment. How do greenhouse gases harm the environment?

Global warming

Global warming is the increase in temperatures that is occurring all over the earth. The carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases lead to the formation of a blanket that prevents heat from going from the earth's surface. This heat leads to the steady rise in temperatures which is very harmful to all life on earth. Since 1880 the average temperatures of the earth have risen by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This increase in temperature has led to an increase in the melting of the ice at the earth poles and other parts of the earth. With this ice melting, the sea level is changing and so is the climate. The earth is becoming hotter and rain is becoming scarcer in some parts of the world while others are experiencing strong storms and other extreme events. With these climate changes associated with global warming biodiversity is affected and many plant as well as animal species are becoming extinct. Some animals and plants cannot become accustomed to the conditions global warming has exposed them to.

Ocean acidification

Carbon dioxide is one of the most common greenhouse gases that is produced by most industries. With it increasing in the atmosphere, the formation of acid water had also increased. Ocean water absorbs about a quarter of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This water reacts with the carbon dioxide to form carbonic acid which lowers the water's PH. This affects the life of the animals that reside in the seas from the fish to the crabs. More sea animals are dying by the day as more and more industries are being built. The increase in ocean acidification became apparent when the industrialization revolution happened.

Ozone effects

The ozone layer is useful above the earth where it protects the earth's surface from ultra violet rays. These rays are harmful and when they penetrate lead to increases in skin cancer and other disorders. When ozone is found near the earth's surface however it becomes very harmful. It is an air pollutant that is part of smog. Ozone is created when nitrogen oxide and methane react. Ozone on the earth's surface is known to lead to an increase in cardiopulmonary deaths and reducing life expectancy and also affecting the yields of crops.

Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that is responsible for damaging the ozone layer. Chlorofluorocarbons released by refrigerants also play a role in depleting the ozone layer. The depletion of this layer leaves the earth bare with nothing to protect it from the harmful effects of UV rays. 

Effects on farming

With an increase in the green house gases released, farmers have a reason to worry and so do the consumers which actually mean every human being. With the climate changing in different parts of the world, the crops that farmers are used to growing no longer do well in their areas. The temperature and rainfall changes affect what the farmers can plant and the overall productivity of the land. This could lead to food insufficiency in some parts of the world.

With increased carbon dioxide in air, plants have more than what they need and hence they grow fast. The other nutrients needed for plant growth however are not in excess. The plants hence grow fast but they do not have the nutritional quality they should. Among the affected plant types are wheat, barley, rice and potato tubers that have a reduced protein concentration due to greenhouse gases.

Here's a video on how does global warming effect the environment:


Camila Dietrich

Camila is passionate about helping people find innovative new ways to green. She enjoy writing poetry in her spare time.

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