The Greenhouse Effect is an atmospheric occurrence that plays a significant role in sustaining life on Earth. When radiation from the Sun enters the Earth, gases known as greenhouse gases trap some of this radiation as it reflects from the surface of the Earth. The contained solar energy helps to control the Earth’s global temperature at a reasonable level that will allow life for all organisms.
On occasion, greenhouse gases can build-up and lead to climate change and global warming. This is naturally caused by the eruption of volcanoes and decay of organisms, which release carbon dioxide and methane, the most notorious greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere. The increased gases trap more solar radiation on the earth, causing the global temperature to rise and weather patterns to become more irregular. This pattern is historically marked by the warm periods and cold (or Ice Ages) and creates a natural cycle where temperatures rise and fall periodically over millions of years. Since the Industrial Revolution, the burning of fossil fuels has allowed for greenhouse gases to build up and trap more solar radiation, causing global temperatures to increase at a faster rate than historically seen.
David Suzuki Foundation. “Greenhouse Gases.” http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/science/climate-change-basics/greenhouse-gases/. Accessed August 8, 2016.
David Suzuki Foundation. “What is Climate Change?” http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/science/climate-change-basics/climate-change-101-1/. Accessed August 8, 2016.
What’s your impact?. “What is Global Warming?” http://whatsyourimpact.org/greenhouse-gases. Accessed August 5, 2016.