Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming
While many greenhouse gases occur naturally and are needed to create the greenhouse effect that keeps the Earth warm enough to support life, human use of fossil fuels is the main source of excess greenhouse gases. By driving cars, using electricity from coal-fired power plants, or heating our homes with oil or natural gas, we release carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. Deforestation is another significant source of greenhouse gases, because fewer trees means less carbon dioxide conversion to oxygen.
During the 150 years of the industrial age, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by 31 percent. Over the same period, the level of atmospheric methane has risen by 151 percent, mostly from agricultural activities such as raising cattle and growing rice.
The Consequences of Global Warming
As the concentration of greenhouse gases grows, more heat is trapped in the atmosphere and less escapes back into space. This increase in trapped heat changes the climate and alters weather patterns, which may hasten species extinction, influence the length of seasons, cause coastal flooding, and lead to more frequent and severe storms.
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