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Greenhouse Gases

Submitted by mpetracchi on Thu, 12/05/2019 - 22:22

To understand just how devastating an increase in greenhouse gases could be for our planet we must first understand how greenhouse gases work. Energy reaches our planet from the sun in the form of solar radiation. When it touchs the surface it is either reflected away or is absorbed and released as infrared radiation. This radiation would normally leave the atmosphere however gases in the atmosphere act as a one way mirror and trap some of it. Without any gases we could not survive, however with too much we will also run into problems. Our atmosphere is made of 78% N2, 21% O2, 1% Ar, 0.4% H2O and <0.1% of other gases with carbon dioxide at 0.041%. If carbon dioxide levels are 'low' compared to the rest of the gases in the air, why is it always talked about? The gas is rising in airborne concentrations steadily since data was first taken in 1960. A longitudinal study by the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory has shown that from 1960 to today carbon dioxide levels have risen by 90 ppm (parts per million). This seemingly small increase could have devastating affects on our enviornment. Global temperatures have been rising from the increase in efficient green house gases such as carbon dioxide, but also notably methane and nitrous oxide. According to a 2018 study of temperature increases and it's affect on organsim ranges predict that at a 3.2 C change in average temperature will result in  geographic range loss greater than 50% for 49% of insects, 44% of plants, and 26% of vertabrates. This temperature is what most countries have accepted in emissions talks. With everything we know about greenhouse gases and their affect on our planet this is an unnexcusable reality we are facing in the near future.