If we talk about the changes that the planet has undergone in the last century, without a doubt the most serious is the greenhouse effect. This is a natural process that occurs when solar radiation is absorbed by some gases in the atmosphere and is again returned to the inner surface of the planet, resulting in an increase in average temperature.
This phenomenon is so called because it is similar to the one that occurs inside a greenhouse to increase the temperature. It is necessary to understand that the natural greenhouse effect makes life possible in our world, allowing us to maintain a suitable and pleasant temperature for living beings, retaining part of the sun’s energy and releasing another part into space.
But currently this balance is in danger due to human practices, mainly the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, which have altered this process causing global warming due to the excess of insulating gases that concentrate in the atmosphere and cannot return to space. , generating climate change.
Causes of the greenhouse effect.
The main causes of this effect are carbon dioxide and methane gas. Although these gases have always existed naturally on the planet, their presence in the atmosphere has increased by at least 35% with the use of fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil since the years of the industrial revolution. and it is estimated that emissions of these gases into the atmosphere continue to increase each year by an average of 0.4%, causing serious damage to the Earth and to life on it.
The effects may be more dire if our energy model is not changed and we stop abusing natural resources and destroying our ecosystems with the excessive pollution of air, soil and water.
In the last hundred years the average temperature in the world has increased 0.7º C, but for 40 years the increase per decade has been about 0.15º C. In case the temperature continues to rise and becomes outside the levels suitable for the planet, the level of the oceans will continue to rise to flood large regions of inhabited land and also the climatic conditions will be unbearable for humans.
The results left so far by the greenhouse effect are the melting of the polar ice caps, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, prolonged droughts, desertification, and deforestation, are part of the problems generated by this phenomenon.
Types of greenhouse gases.
- Water vapor (H2O).
- Carbon dioxide (CO2).
- Methane (CH4).
- Nitrous oxide (N2O).
- Ozone (O3).
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
Human activity generates emissions of four long-lived greenhouse gases: CO2, CH4, N2O and halocarbons or Chlorofluorocarbons.
Consequences of the greenhouse effect.
- The forecast that the average temperature of the Earth will increase 0.2 ºC every ten years.
- Global glaciers shrinkage, which will increase sea level.
- The rise in the level of seas and oceans, will lead to flooding of some areas near the sea or islands.
- Ecosystems will be negatively affected, those that cannot adapt will eventually become extinct.
- Droughts and evaporation of water will increase, changing the climate in some areas, once turning fertile areas into deserts.
- Droughts and increased water evaporation will inevitably affect agriculture in some areas.
In response, in 1997 the United Nations (UN) promoted the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in Japan. In this, the most industrialized countries that cause most of the pollution on the planet agree to adopt measures to minimize emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases by at least 5.2%, although some countries have refused to consider that the measure would hurt their economies.
For this, a kind of division of the atmosphere by country is made and each one has a maximum pollution “permit”, calculated according to the case of each nation. Until now, the Kyoto Protocol is the only international agreement to face and minimize the impact of the greenhouse effect.
This protocol aims to create awareness and encourage governments to establish laws to comply with the objective and that industries and companies are also required to have a responsibility with the environment.