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The Greenhouse Effect

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Shervyn Singh

on 20 July 2013

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Transcript of The Greenhouse Effect

In a greenhouse, the sun's rays are trapped by the glass; keeping the internal environment relatively warm and at a constant temperature due to the inability for the heat to escape.

The "Greenhouse Effect" is similar to this concept. The Earth's atmosphere contains particular gasses (called greenhouse gasses) which trap thermal radiation .

The Greenhouse Effect is natural and is extremely important for life on Earth. Without it; the Earth's average surface temperature would be
as compared to the actual temperature of
with the presence of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

The most important greenhouse gasses in Earth's atmosphere are:

water vapour
carbon dioxide
What is the problem?
The Greenhouse Effect in itself is not the actual problem.

describes the imbalance of the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (particularly carbon dioxide and methane increasing in concentration too quickly).

This increase upsets the balance, thus making the greenhouse effect much stronger; which in turn has caused

to occur.

Global mean land surface temperatures
from 1880 to 2020
Much of human activity leads to a build up of greenhouse gasses, which amplifies the natural greenhouse effect and subsequently causes global warming and climate change to occur.

There are 5 main causes which lead to this issue.
Combustion of
Fossil Fuels
Waste Breakdown
Greenhouse gas emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels for energy (for electricity and transport).
When oil, gas or coal burns, carbon contained within it combines with oxygen in the air to create carbon dioxide.
2C8H18 (l) +25O2 (g) 16CO2 (g) + 18H2O (l)
Gasoline (octane)
All plants partake in a process called photosynthesis in which they absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen.

When land is cleared and trees or vegetation is removed or burnt, the stored carbon is converted back into carbon dioxide - upsetting the balance.
Nitrous oxide is emitted due to the use of some fertilizers through a process called

Enteric fermentation occurs in the digestive system of animals (cattle, sheep etc.) in which microbes ferment the feed, creating methane as a byproduct.

Anaerobic decomposition of manure also releases methane.

Carbon dioxide and methane are released during the decay of food, vegetation and paper dumped in landfills. The same thing occurs when sewage wastes break down.

Many industrial processes, such as cement production, liquid natural gas production and coal mining, produce or emit a variety of greenhouse gases.
A large amount of money and time is invested into the study of global warming.

The Earth's mean temperature has risen by about 0.6°C since the 1980's and this is attributed to the large increase in the greenhouse effect.

Studies show that the mean temperature will increase by ~0.3°C per decade, with the current calculations and concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

However; due to the increase in emissions, scientists predict the temperature to increase from 2.5-5°C in the next 30 years.
The consequences of such rapid global warming includes:
The seal level is predicted to rise by about 1.5m within the next 30 years. This is due to the expansion of water in the oceans; as a result of the increase in temperature.

Sea levels would also change when polar ice caps melt due to the prolonged global warming.
Rising Sea Levels
Climatic changes
Extreme weather conditions will start to become much more frequent, such as droughts and floods.

For example, South-Eastern Australia is predicted to have a large increase of rainfall during the summer months, and a significant decrease during the months of winter.
The changes are dependent on those concerning rising sea levels and varying climatic conditions.

For example, a loss of natural wetlands may occur. Affecting the habitat of many plants and animals which reside in an environment which is stable and provides for their needs.

Ecological changes
Another major effect the enhanced greenhouse effect causes is
Ozone Depletion.

Certain substances deplete and destroy the ozone layer, which include CFCs (a group of greenhouse gases).

CFCs are chlorofluorocarbons, and are extremely effective at absorbing infrared radiation. As a result the manufacture of this gas as been phased out since the 1980's.

This is important as the ozone layer protects against UV radiation, which is known to cause skin cancer.

The continued degradation of the ozone layer has affected it greatly. With continued reduction in emissions; it is expected to recover by about 2048.
Image of the largest Antarctic ozone hole ever recorded (September 2006), over the South pole.
What is being done to minimise the effect of the 'Enhanced Greenhouse Effect?'
The topic of global warming is extremely controversial and of utmost importance to many around the world. There has been much discussion about ways of slowing the increase of greenhouse gases.

These include:
reducing the consumption of fossil fuels by conserving energy
developing renewable energy sources (solar power)
controlling the rate of deforestation as well as planting more forests
completely phasing out the use of CFCs
If global warming cannot be prevented, many countries will need to examine a range issues which affects everyone of us.

For example, climatic changes will affect agricultural production. Major food production areas may be affected by drought or flooding. Flood plains that grow a significant proportion of the world's food may overflow and permanently submerge the crops.
The Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions. This agreement was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in 1997.

Countries agreed to develop and refine the rules and conditions stated in the agreement, as well as developing new strategies to reduce excess greenhouse gas emission and to deal with current environmental issues.
Is there a solution?
In short:

However there are a number of complications and it is uncertain as to how effective this method is in the long term.

The proposed method of dealing with the excess in concentration of greenhouse gasses, is to store carbon dioxide in underground formations such as old gas fields or salt mines.

Over the past 10 years, 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide has been pumped under the North Sea. The gas is buried about 1km beneath the ocean floor.

However, there are still problems plaguing the full advancement of technology which aids in the attempt to control emissions.
The cost of capturing carbon dioxide from power stations is significant
10-40% more power is needed to capture the carbon dioxide (however this technology would still produce 80-90% less carbon dioxide than a station without this technology)
The carbon dioxide may negatively affect aquatic life
(unknown at this moment)
This technology provides with an efficient short term solution, but it is preferable to develop alternate and renewable energy sources which produce less pollution.

New technology will definitely take large amounts of money, research and time; however the study into combating the enhanced greenhouse effect and all issues that come with it, is an investment of capital importance.
Heinemann Chemistry 1 4th Edition ENHANCED
Copyright © Pearson Australia 2011
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
First published 2011 by Pearson Australia

Authors: Nicole Lukins, Carolyn Elvins, Philippa Lohmeyer, Bob Ross, Robert Sanders, Gordon Wilson, Elissa Huddart
Publisher: Ross Laman
Project Editor: Andrea Davison
Editor: Sue Lawrence
Multimedia developer: Nerrida Parfitt
Interface designer: Darren Frisina
Copyright & Pictures Editor: Julia Weaver
Illustrators: Dimirios Prokopis, Guy Holt and Wendy Gorton

ISBN 978 1 4425 3752 1

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