Christine Moran ‘09
Figure 1 GRAPHS
ABSTRACT WHY ARE WE SO CONFUSED?
Most people do not know the difference between the Greenhouse Effect
The Earth has always been warming. In the past 100 and the Greenhouse Theory which leads to confusion. The main difference between
years, the temperature has increased from1.2 to 1.4ºF. the two is that the Greenhouse Effect is naturally warming the Earth while the
This increase has caused a debate between scientists as Greenhouse Theory states that global warming is human induced (anthropogenic).
to what has caused it. Some scientists say that the Earth’s When people hear about the Greenhouse Effect, they think that it is human induced,
increase in temperature is due to a natural effect called when in fact, that is the Greenhouse Theory.
the Greenhouse Effect. Other scientists believe that
humans have been aiding to the temperature increase by Many people believe that the Greenhouse Effect is bad for the Earth
burning fossil fuels for the past 100 years. In other words, when actually we would cease to live without it. “The Earth's average surface
the increase is due to anthropogenic warming. The temperature is about 33°C warmer than it would be without the greenhouse effect”
Greenhouse Effect and the Greenhouse Theory are (sciencedaily.com 2009). According to figure 2, the sun’s radiation enters Earth’s
commonly confused with each other. Many people atmosphere and “most of the radiation is absorbed by the Earth” (Grossman, J
confuse the theory for the effect. Greenhouse gases 2009). Figure 2 also shows that the infrared radiation enters the atmosphere and is Russell, R.
contribute to the effect. They trap the heat from the Sun in absorbed or re-emitted in different directions by the greenhouse gases (Grossman, J
the Earth’s atmosphere which causes the temperature to 2009). When this occurs, “the Earth’s surface and the lower atmosphere are Figure 2
rise. These gases and the effect are considered bad warmed” (Grossman, J 2009). This figure shows that the Earth is being warmed
because they create an increase in temperature and aid to naturally through solar and infrared radiation. Figure 1 shows the percentages of
global warming. Actually, the effect and these gases are radiation that is from the Sun, absorbed by the Earth and reflected by the surface.
needed for us to live on Earth.
“Greenhouse gases are components of the atmosphere that contribute to
the Greenhouse Effect” (sciencedaily.com 2009). Carbon Dioxide is thought to have
the highest concentration in our atmosphere compared to other greenhouse gases.
In reality, carbon dioxide is only 9-26% of the greenhouse gases (sciencedaily.com
2009). Water vapor, the major greenhouse gas, is 36-70% of the greenhouse effect
BACKGROUND INFORMATION (sciencedaily.com 2009). Water vapor is the greenhouse gas which traps the heat.
Methane is 4-9% while o-zone is only 3-7% of the effect (sciencedaily.com 2009).
GREENHOUSE EFFECT The Greenhouse Theory insists that humans are warming the Earth’s
• Lets solar radiation (from the Sun) through the Earth’s atmosphere. Many believe that “growth in industry, agriculture, and transportation
atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution has produced additional quantities of the natural
•Occurs naturally greenhouse gases” (Colombia Electronic Encyclopedia 2007). Some people are Grossman, J.
•Life on Earth would cease to exist without it switching to hybrid cars or are concerned with how much energy they are emitting
•Gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, because they believe that humans endorse the increase in temperature. The
ozone, and nitrous oxide Industrial Revolution has caused, “the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil,
•Anthropogenic (human caused) warming
and deforestation have caused the concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse
gases to increase significantly in our atmosphere” (Environmental Protection Agency
2009). Burning fossil fuels mainly adds to the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, but
• Humans release CO2 into our atmosphere water vapor is still the gas that traps the most heat. According to the Environmental • Greenhouse Effect is a natural process
•Industrial Revolution started the warming Protection Agency, “Earth's average surface temperature has increased by about • Greenhouse Theory is anthropogenic
1.2 to 1.4ºF in the last 100 years” (2009). The industrial revolution started about 200 • Temperatures have increased from1.2 to 1.4ºF
years ago and, therefore, many make the connection that the burning of fossil fuels • Solar and infrared radiation warms atmosphere
increased Earth’s temperature. • Greenhouse Effect is not bad, need it to live
• Water Vapor is 39-70% of Greenhouse Effect
•Water Vapor traps the most heat
• Carbon Dioxide is 9-26% of Greenhouse Effect
•Humans increase carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels
REFERENCES • Global Warming is occurring but if it is more natural or
anthropogenic remains a mystery.
Colombia Electronic Encyclopedia. (2007). Retrieved from: http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Anthropogenic+global+warming+theory
Grossman, J. (Feb 6, 2009). No Frills Philanthropy Project: Carbon Offsets. Retrieved from: http://students.washington.edu/nofrills/phil.htm
Pidwirny, M. (May 7, 2009). Chapter 7: Introduction to the Atmosphere (h). The Greenhouse Effect. Retrieved from http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7h.html
Reuters, T. (2009). Greenhouse Effect. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/g/greenhouse_effect.htm
Russell, R. (May 16, 2007). The Greenhouse Effect and Greenhouse Gases. Retrieved from: http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/earth/climate/greenhouse_effect_gases.html
United States Environmental Protection Agency (September 8, 2005). Greenhouse Effect. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/heatisland/resources/glossary/greenhouseeffect.html
United States Environmental Protection Agency (October 29, 2009). Basic Information. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basicinfo.html
Zhi, L. (December 1, 2009). Backgrounder: Greenhouse Effect and Greenhouse Gases. Retrieved from http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-12/01/content_12569712.htm