Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect Essay

Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect Essay

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What is the "greenhouse effect?" It is the behavior of solar radiation
when it interacts with gasses in the Earth's atmosphere. The Sun gives
off a wide spectrum of energy which we classify according to its
wavelength. Among the types of energy given off by the sun are
ultraviolet (UV), visible and infrared (IR) wavelengths. UV is short
wavelength high-energy radiation, visible is mid-wavelength,
mid-energy radiation, and IR is long wavelength low-energy radiation.
The atmosphere is mostly transparent to UV and visible light, but some
components of the atmosphere absorb IR energy on its way in toward the
Earth's surface, warming the atmopsphere slightly. When the sun's
energy reaches the surface of the Earth it is absorbed. This warms the
surface, and causes the Earth to emit energy of its own. Unlike the
Sun, however, the Earth does not emit UV or visible light, it ONLY
emits IR energy. As this IR radiation travels back toward space it is
also absorbed by gasses in the atmosphere, particularly CO2, methane
and water vapor.

In this way the Earth's atmosphere acts like the glass in a
greenhouse. The greenhouse lets in the UV and visible light, but once
the interior warms up and IR energy is re-emitted, the glass absorbs
the radiation and does not allow it to escape back to space. This
warms the greenhouse. The fact that all incoming wavelengths are
absorbed by the Earth and re-emitted as IR is the key to the
greenhouse effect, both on the Earth, and in the greenhouse. The
"greenhouse effect" is important to the Earth because it keeps the
planet at a nice, warm, habitable temperature. However, many
scientists, policy makers and c...

... middle of paper ...

The devastating floods, droughts and storms we have seen in the UK and
across the world in recent years show all too clearly how vulnerable
we are to climate extremes and how high the economic, human and
environmental cost can be, particularly in developing countries.

The greenhouse effect causes trouble by raising the temperature of the
planet. The actual rise is not very much, but the Earth's ecosystem is
very fragile, and small changes can have large effects

Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that this
rise of one degree will happen by the year 2025

The other serious worry is that rising sea levels from the melting of
the polar ice caps could severely flood many countries. A rise in sea
levels of one metre, which many experts are predicting by the year
2100 (and some as soon as 2030),

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