The earth is surrounded by a blanket of gases which allow incoming sunlight to pass through. Some of these, called greenhouse gases, trap the sun’s warmth raising the temperature on Earth by about 33C. This is called the greenhouse effect. It is a natural process and without it the earth would be too cold for plants and animals to live. The greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chloroflurocarbons, halocarbons, and perflurocarbons.
What is the enhanced greenhouse effect?
The problem we now face is that human actions - particularly the burning of fossil fuel ( coal, oil and natural gas) and land clearing - are increasing the amount of greenhouse gases and causing more warming of the earth. This additional warming is known as the enhanced greenhouse effect.
What will an enhanced greenhouse mean?
Scientists think that the advanced greenhouse effect (sometimes called global warming) will have wide ranging effects on the natural environment and the way people live. If greenhouse gases keep building up, changes in weather patterns and rising sea levels could have serious social, economic and environmental impacts. Homes and people may be threatened by more frequent storms and floods, there may be an increase in the spread of infectious diseases carried by pests such as mosquitoes, e.g. malaria, and some species of plants and animals may be unable to adapt and may not survive.
What do we need to do about global warming?
A reduction in greenhouse gases emissions will help to counter global warming problems. Reducing the amount of fossils fuels that we use, using fuel more efficiently, and switching to fuels that produce less carbon dioxide (for example, from coal to natural gas) are ways the we can cut carbon dioxide emissions. Other ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions include reducing land clearing and burning of vegetation and by planting trees and other vegetation that stores greenhouse gases.
Source: Australian Energy News, Issue No 1, August 1996, Pg 42