What is The Greenhouse Effect?

The greenhouse effect is a natural process that maintains the earth’s temperature at about 150 C (60 F) above what it would be without that process. It is fundamental to life’s existence on earth. Without the greenhouse effect, the life systems as we know them would not exist.

It works like this: Every day, sunlight passes through the atmosphere to the earth’s surface where it is converted into infrared radiation (heat). Some of the heat is absorbed by the earth’s surface and some bounces off the earth's surface and escapes  into space. But  some radiates  back  from   the


earth’s surface into the atmosphere where it is trapped by greenhouse gases and re-emitted to the earth’s surface. Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are known as greenhouse gases (GHG’s). See figures below.

Without the greenhouse effect, the earth could not sustain life. If this effect becomes stronger, the earth becomes warmer. This is ‘global warming’. An increase in temperature of only a few degrees can lead to dramatic consequences for humans, plants and animals.




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