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It’s Too Darn Hot: Global Warming And The Greenhouse Effect!

Published Thursday, November 15, 18 | By PaulvHill

Ella Fitzgerald wasn’t singing about the weather when she sang “It’s too darn hot,” but today, the song has a new meaning. The planet is heating up, causing significant changes in our climate and on the natural resources we all rely on to sustain life. The science behind global warming is complex, so here are the basics in a nutshell: Heat-trapping gases—primarily carbon dioxide, but others as well—from vehicles, homes, power plants and deforestation are accumulating in the atmosphere, acting like a thick blanket. That blanket is heating up the Earth.

This process is known as the “greenhouse effect.” Just like the glass walls of a greenhouse trap heat and increase the temperature inside, the Earth’s greenhouse effect is warming the planet. Under normal and natural circumstances, the greenhouse effect is not only good, but essential, as it keeps the planet alive. The problem has come because of the dramatic increase in heat-trapping gases generated by the human race in the last century.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon that keeps the Earth in a temperature range that allows life to flourish. The sun’s enormous energy warms the Earth’s surface and its atmosphere. As this energy radiates back toward space as heat, a portion is absorbed by a delicate balance of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere—among them carbon dioxide and methane—which creates an insulating layer. With the temperature control of the greenhouse effect, the Earth has an average surface temperature of 59°F (15°C). Without it, the average surface temperature would be 0°F (-18°C), a temperature so low that the Earth would be frozen and could not sustain life.

“Global warming” refers to the rise in the Earth’s temperature resulting from an increase in heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.”

Glaciers are melting due to higher temperatures accuring because of Global Warming

Remember when everyone threw out their aerosol spray cans and Styrofoam cups? We listened when scientists told us that the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in those products were eating away at the Earth’s ozone layer, our only protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. It turns out that the hole in the ozone is related to global warming, but is itself a very different and distinct threat.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“Global warming and ozone depletion are two separate but related threats. Global warming and the greenhouse effect refer to the warming of the lower part of the atmosphere (also known as the troposphere) due to increasing concentrations of heat-trapping gases. By contrast, the ozone hole refers to the loss of ozone in the upper part of the atmosphere, called the stratosphere. This is of serious concern because stratospheric ozone blocks incoming ultraviolet radiation from the sun, some of which is harmful to plants, animals, and humans.

The two problems are related in a number of ways, including:

  • Some human-made gases, like chlorofluorocarbons, trap heat and destroy the ozone layer. Currently, these gases are responsible for less than 10 percent of total atmospheric warming, far less than the contribution from the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.
  • The ozone layer traps heat, so if it gets destroyed, the upper atmosphere actually cools, thereby offsetting part of the warming effect of other heat-trapping gases. But that’s no reason to rejoice: the cooling of the upper layers of the atmosphere can produce changes in the climate that affect weather patterns in the higher latitudes.
  • Trapping heat in the lower part of the atmosphere allows less heat to escape into space and leads to cooling of the upper part of the atmosphere. The colder it gets, the greater the destruction of the protective ozone layer.
  • Reducing ozone-depleting gases is crucial to preventing further destruction of the ozone layer, but eliminating these gases alone will not solve the global warming problem. On the other hand, efforts to reduce all types of emission to limit global warming will also be good for the recovery of the ozone layer.”

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