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Greenhouse Gases

Environment | 5-12 yrs | Interactive, Learning Pod

One of the primary reasons that planet Earth can sustain life is because it has an atmosphere that is protected by the ozone layer. This protective layer is responsible for containing the atmosphere, filtering the harmful parts of the sun’s rays and trapping heat within the atmosphere so that it doesn’t become unbearably cold.

The greenhouse effect is named after real greenhouses- plastic or glass structures where plants are grown. Greenhouses protect plants from too much direct sunlight and cold because the plastic or glass material allows light to pass through but traps the heat produced by this light. In the case of the atmosphere, gases act like the glass or plastic material and traps heat energy from the sun.

Greenhouse gases are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and ozone. They absorb heat energy that bounces off the earth’s surface and re-radiate it in all directions. In this way the heat is not lost immediately and the earth’s atmosphere becomes a bearable temperature.

However in the past couple of decades there have been an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. This is caused by an increased amount of factories and an increase in the amount of fossil fuels we burn for energy which both produce large amounts of carbon dioxide as a by-product.

The increased levels of carbon dioxide has caused temperatures to rise all over the world. This could have very bad effects on the polar ice caps and the balance of nature. Now we don’t want to be living under water, do we? Let’s do all we can to reduce how much we pollute our atmosphere.

How are greenhouse gases related to global warming?

For more environment related articles and videos, visit: Environment for Kids category.

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