Greenhouse Effect

What is Meant by Greenhouse Effect?

Greenhouse Effect is the process of heating of the surface of Earth till the troposphere. It happens because of higher concentration of carbon dioxide, water vapour, methane and other gases.

Sunlight heats up Earth's surface, and subsequently, the energy is reflected back to space in the form of infrared radiation. In the greenhouse effect, the concentrated gases absorb the energy, thereby increasing the global temperature. Hence, greenhouse effect and global warming are correlated.  

[Image: Greenhouse effect ]

Before proceeding with greenhouse effect causes and prevention, let us familiarise with different greenhouse gases. 

Greenhouse Gases 

The concentration of gases that lead to trapping of heat in the atmosphere is known as greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases include –

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)

  • Methane (CH4)

  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)

  • Fluorinated gases like halons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, nitrogen trifluoride, sulphur hexafluoride etc. 

However, the emission scale of these greenhouse gases varies, leading to differences in its concentration in atmosphere. 

[Image: Overview of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018]

Did You Know?

In spite of the damage caused by greenhouse effect and global warming, in its absence, temperature of Earth may slide down to almost -18° Celsius. 

Read on to know more about causes and effects of greenhouse effect. 

What Causes the Greenhouse Effect?

When preparing a short note on greenhouse effect, make sure to have an understanding about factors causing greenhouse effect. 

  1. Fossil fuel burning 

Coal, oil and natural gas are fossil fuel which is utilised for transportation and electricity generation among others. Burning of fossil fuels releases enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. 

  1. Farming 

Fertilisers used during farming releases greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. It is a major cause of global warming. 

  1. Deforestation 

Rampant deforestation is a common cause of greenhouse effect owing to reduction of oxygen release and absorption of carbon dioxide by plants. Moreover, when wood is burnt, the stored carbon is further released into the environment. 

  1. Population increase

Population explosion in different parts of the world has caused enormous pressure on existing resources, which is finite. Higher demand has caused a substantial increase in manufacturing, causing greater emission of harmful gases. 

  1. Landfill and industrial waste 

Landfill of industrial produce and industrial waste emanating from coal mining activities, cement production, and oil extraction among others lead to the generation of harmful greenhouse gases. 

Consequences of Greenhouse Effect

The major consequences of Greenhouse Effect are –

  • Ozone layer depletion 

  • Global warming 

  • Environmental degradation 

  • Extinction of species 

Prevention of Greenhouse Effect

  1. Conservation of Energy 

Conservation of energy can substantially cut down emission of greenhouse gases. It is due to the fact that maximum industrial process and electricity production is dependent on consumption of fossil fuel. Increased usage of alternative or renewable energy will facilitate energy conservation. 

  1. Afforestation 

Planned afforestation on a large scale will help in higher absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Barring at night, green plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into air.  

  1. Public Transportation 

Close to 30% of greenhouse gases are emitted by various modes of transport. Developed public transportation system helps to reduce number of automobiles that run of regular basis, eventually cutting down harmful gases emission. 

  1. Policy Intervention 

There is a greater need for policy intervention by government both in terms of framing appropriate regulations and enforcement. International cooperation is important to make such policies a success. 

Test Yourself 

i. How much does carbon dioxide contribute to global warming?

(a) 10% to 15%

(b) 20% to 25%

(c) 30% to 35%

(d) 40% to 45%

ii. Ozone layer lies in -

(a) Mesosphere 

(b) Ionosphere 

(c) Stratosphere 

(d) Troposphere

[To check your answer, see the solution mentioned at the end of the article]

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Which Gas is Responsible for the Greenhouse Effect?

Ans. Carbon dioxide is one of the main causes of greenhouse effect. 

2. Write a Short Note on Greenhouse Effect.

Ans. The trapping of higher quantities of gases such as carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is a greenhouse effect. These gases act as a screen to trap heat from the sun, causing a substantial rise in temperature.

3. What is Increased by the Greenhouse Effect?

Ans. A higher concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases global warming. Research indicates that warming of the atmosphere has increased by 37%. 

[Solutions]

i. (d) 40% to 45%

ii. (c) Stratosphere