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The Greenhouse Effect

The Natural Greenhouse Effect

Solar radiation warms the earth's surface.  Theoretically, without an atmosphere, the rays that hit the earth would be reflected and exit into space again.  Without the atmosphere, the average temperature on earth would be 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  Since earth has an atmosphere made of different gases, a lot of the infrared radiation reflected off the surface is absorbed and re-admitted to the earth again.  This keeps the earth's average temperature at a liveable 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  This process is called the natural greenhouse effect.

Greenhouse Gases:

  • Water Vapor
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Methane
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Chlorofluorocarbons

Enhanced Greenhouse Effect

When most people think of the greenhouse effect, they think of Global Warming.  Human influence causing an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is called the enhanced greenhouse effect.  Certain activities such as clear cutting, burning of fossil fuels, and other industrial practices raise the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Reducing Greenhouse Gases:

  • Plant green-leafed trees
  • Plant a garden / grow your own food
  • Car-pool
  • Use less gas
  • Recycle
  • Purchase energy efficient appliances