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Greenhouse Effect

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Beating the Heat Why and How We Must Combat Global Warming
coverGreenhouse : The 200-Year Story of Global Warming by Gale E. Christianson.  

Greenhouse is the illuminating history behind a scientific idea that fills today's headlines. Christianson, author of Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae, blends the research of a scholar with a novelist's storytelling skill. As the full range of its elements come into focus, global warming becomes both a memorable human drama and an integral part of our planet's history. An essential book for anyone interested in the history of science and the very nature of scientific inquiry and speculation.

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Green House Effect
From The National Association of Forest Industries.


The earth is surrounded by gases that act like a blanket to keep it warm. We call these greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide (CO2) is among them (Booth 1989). Scientists call this warming the greenhouse effect. It is a natural feature of planet earth and helps provide the environment for living things, including people. Without greenhouse gases the earth would be too cold for life...


Greenhouse Effect & Enhanced Greenhouse Effect
From the Center for Earth Observing and Space Research.


The greenhouse effect results from "the dirty of the atmospheric infrared window" by some atmospheric trace gases, permitting incoming solar radiation to reach the surface of the Earth unhindered but restricting the outward flow of infrared radiation. These atmospheric trace gases are referred as greenhouse gases. They absorb and reradiate this outgoing radiation, effectively storing some of the heat in the atmosphere, thus producing a net warming of the surface. The process is called the greenhouse effect.


What is the Greenhouse Effect?
From the World of Chemistry.  


Carbon Dioxide is one of the products of respiration. It is also a necessary reactant in the photosynthesis of plant tissue. As long as respiration and photosynthesis remain balanced (carbon cycle) then no problem arises. Unfortunately, with increased industrialization and the rapid destruction of the world's forests, the levels of Carbon Dioxide are slowly rising.

There are two theories that explain what will happen if the Carbon Dioxide continues to rise...

Site Includes:

bulletFossil Fuels
bulletCoal Mining


Greenhouse Effect
By Joyce Barkley. 


The greenhouse effect is caused by an increase of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the air. These gases trap the sun's heat close to the earth. Carbon dioxide and other gases come from the fossil fuels we burn. Methane comes from rice fields, decaying plants and rotting waste in landfills. CFCs are chemicals that were used in spray cans. They are still used as coolants in refrigerators and air conditioners...


Resources for Energy and the Environment
From the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Oregon.

The world is finally becoming globally aware that exponential resource usage in combination with finite reserves is a recipe that ensures our great grandchildren won't be born.

These pages are meant as pointers to other resources that bring this problem to light...

Site Includes:

bulletThe Greenhouse Effect
bulletWorld Data Center for Greenhouse Gases
bulletMethane in Ice-Covered, Continental Shelf Waters of the Beaufort Sea, Alaska
bulletMethane from Rice Production
bulletMethane from Livestock


International Effects
From the Australian Academy of Science

Site includes:

bulletGreenhouse and the science of uncertainty
bulletCSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research- The greenhouse effect
bulletAustralian Greenhouse Office
bulletGCCIP on-line fact sheet series


From the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.


The greenhouse effect is an increase in the average temperature of the Earth.  It happens because certain gases absorb infrared heat that would normally be radiated into space.  Infrared light is what you feel as heat from heat lamps used in restaurants to keep French fries hot.  It also causes the heat you feel from ordinary light bulbs.  Since carbon dioxide absorbs this heat, the more carbon dioxide there is in the atmosphere, the warmer the air will be.  If the air gets too hot, the balance of life will be disrupted.  Species of plants and animals will die.  The food chain could be upset.  This would cause many serious problems worldwide.


Greenhouse Effect
From the NASA website.  


Earth's atmosphere acts like a greenhouse, warming our planet in much the same way that an ordinary greenhouse warms the air inside its glass walls. Like glass, the gases in the atmosphere let in light yet prevent heat from escaping. This natural warming of the planet is called the greenhouse effect.

Greenhouse gases-carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and others-are transparent to certain wavelengths of the Sun's radiant energy, allowing them to penetrate deep into the atmosphere or all the way to Earth's surface. Clouds, ice caps, and particles in the air reflect about 30 percent of this radiation, but oceans and land masses absorb the rest, then release it back toward space as infrared radiation. The greenhouse gases and clouds effectively prevent some of the infrared radiation from escaping; they trap the heat near Earth's surface where it warms the lower atmosphere. If this natural barrier of atmospheric gases were not present, the heat would escape into space, and Earth's mean global temperatures could be as much as 33 degrees Celsius cooler [about -18 degrees Celsius as opposed to 15 degrees Celsius].

Over the centuries, the concentration of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, has fluctuated naturally, and the greenhouse effect has moderated the temperature of Earth accordingly. Now, our efforts to provide for Earth's growing population are releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at rates greater than any other phenomena. As we burn fossil fuels, clear forests, and continue to use gasoline-dependent transportation, we increase the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As a result, we continue to harm Earth's atmosphere.


Why We Should Be Concerned
From the World of Chemistry.  


The CO2 increase in the atmosphere will result in more radiation remaining on the earth. This increase in Infrared energy will have a warming effect on the earth's surface over a period of time. This is gradual to be sure, but it really does not take a real large increase in the body temperature of the earth to cause the ice caps to begin melting at a faster rate. This will do at least four things:

1.It could increase significantly the sea levels on the coastal regions thereby flooding all coastal regions and changing the land mass area significantly. This would affect many world centers negatively.

2.It could decrease the ice caps thereby reducing the ability of the ice caps to reflect further radiation out into space.

3.It could increase the water surface area and the amount of liquid water which will absorb more energy causing a counteractive "cooling" trend (i.e. ice age phenomenon)

4.It could alter the weather patterns thus changing the weather zones. The tropic zone will move north. The temperature zone will move further toward the poles. This could result in a further reduction in the polar ice caps.


Potential Dangers of Climate Change
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


Model simulation and palaeoclimatic evidence suggest that when climate warms, it warms more in higher latitudes than in lower latitudes and more in winter than in summer (Golitsvn, 1989; Schneider, 1989). A warmer atmosphere contains more water vapor and increases the intensity of the whole hydrological cycle, but precipitation patterns are likely to change homogeneously in time and space (Golitsyn, 1989). Some scientists believe that in a warmer climate the earth can be expected to experience more variable weather than now, with a likelihood of more floods and drought, more intense hurricanes or typhoons, and more heat waves (Golitsyn, 1989; Hansen et al., 1989)...


The Probability of Sea Level Rise
By James G. Titus U.S. Environmental Protection Agency   Vijay K. Narayanan Rockville, Maryland   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Washington, D.C.


The Earth's average surface temperature has risen  approximately 0.6oC (1oF) in the last one hundred years, and the  nine warmest years have all occurred since 1980.Many climatologists  believe that increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide  and other gases released by human activities are warming the Earth   by a mechanism commonly known as the "greenhouse effect."   Nevertheless, this warming effect appears to be partly offset by the  cooling effect of sulfate aerosols, which reflect sunlight back into  space... 


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