Do You Know What Greenhouse Gasses Are? Do You Know Why They Are Bad For The Environment?

Awareness and monitoring of politics seem to be at a generational high in America. A number of the last few presidential elections have been very divisive affairs, and more and more aspects of national culture and even daily life are highly politicized and divided. The divisions cover a lot of different subjects, from war to abortion to government spending to gay marriage. One area of deep divisions concerns the environment, where many want the government to focus on fighting climate change and global warming, and others not so concerned about the potential implications.

In order to understand these issues, it’s necessary to understand the science and theories behind some of this. While there’s a lot involved, there’s really just two questions at the heart of it all. First, what are greenhouse gasses? Second, why are they bad for the environment?

Greenhouses gasses are in essence pollution. They can come from many different sources, but they’re typically carbon monoxide or variations. The predominant source of them is fossil fuels. These are things like oil, gas, and coal. Such combustible fuels are used for everything from electric power generation to transportation of ships, planes, automobiles, and trains. When combusted, they do produce power that can be harnessed to move things or turn on the lights, but they also emit polluting byproducts into the atmosphere.

Many of these gasses wind up sitting up in the sky, and they act almost like a layer of glass. If you own a car, consider what happens when you first approach it late in the afternoon of a warm sunny day. You open it only to find that the interior might be warmer than outside. This is how greenhouses help plants grow, by retaining the heat from the sun without letting it out. The sun shines on your car, but the windows and windshield don’t let the heat out. Your car is an oven, and this is why there are warnings and sad stories every summer about pets and children abandoned in cars, where they get seriously hurt or even killed by the heat.

Greenhouse gasses do that on a global level, keeping the sun’s heat in, but not letting it out. As a result, the Earth gets hotter. Arid regions start suffering droughts and have less water, impacting food supplies. Ice caps at the pole start melting, so water levels rise around the world, and some islands and cities face the prospect of being submerged underwater in coming decades.

This even impacts the oceans of the world, as they cover two-thirds of the planetary surface. As they absorb much of the heat, their temperatures rise, starting to kill off many species of life underneath, including coral reefs. Hurricane activity rises, and the acidity of the water also goes up, which impacts land when it rains.

All in all, the picture is not pretty, but as more technology makes green and renewable energy sources available, there is hope to avoid the worst possibilities.