CyberDodo and greenhouse gases (1-40)

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As we have seen beforehand, ‘greenhouse gases’ are so called because they have the capacity to absorb the infrared rays issued by the Earth. There are 2 types, let’s start with those of natural origin:

Water vapour
Carbon dioxide, more widely known as CO2
Nitric oxide, N2O
Methane, CH2
Ozone, O3

Although these components have been present in the earth’s atmosphere for a long time, with the beneficial impact of maintaining a temperature conducive to the development of living species, human activity is responsible for their recent augmentation and the potentially disastrous effects which are associated with it.

Not forgetting that man produces a greater number of industrial GHGs, such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, more widely known as CFCs, perfluoromethane, sulphur hexafluoride, etc

The greenhouse effect, caused by a natural phenomenon

How do we take back control?

Due particularly to the work of the GIEC (Group of Intergovernmental Experts on the Evolution of the Climate), established in 1988 to assess the reality and the impact of climat change and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, we in fact know quite well what are the human activities which contribute to the increased production of GHGs.

The symbolic examples being, on the one hand, the massive use of fossil fuels after the end of the XIX century, such as carbon, petroleum and gas, which emit significant quantities of GHGs, with on the other hand deforestation has been increasing at a reckless pace. This is why the carbon sinks represented by forests are indispensible for regulation of the climate.

If man wanted to ensure that global warming took place and increased even more, he would not have done things any differently.

What are the human activities which contribute towards greenhouse gases racing out of control?

As man thinks that he can plunder the planet by generating multiple noxious agents and destruction to guarantee infinite growth (In this regard, see the case file on wasting energy), many sectors are involved (Examples):

Transport (Aeroplanes, trucks, cars)
Energy (Carbon, fuel, gas power stations, etc.)

This list is of concern, but it also shows us that awareness raising efforts should be agreed on are at global level. The whole world should be involved, from individual level to the States, operating through International Organisations, and, of course, all the economic sectors.

Forecast increases in average temperatures from now until the end of the XXIst century are scary; we do not have the right to destroy the planet where the youngest among us as well as future generations shall live.

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To see the cartoon on greenhouse gases, click here

To see the game on greenhouse gases, click here

To see the quiz on greenhouse gases, click here

© CyberDodo Productions

This is the question that CyberDodo was asked, and in response, he decided to go to space! This case file is therefore directly inspired by our friend’s ‘observations’, as well as those of the scientists who informed him.

It starts off with the sun sending us its bright rays every day, but what happens when they reach the Earth?

3 main phenomena are therefore involved:

1) A little more than a quarter is beamed up to space, mainly by icy surfaces (notably the Antarctic and Arctic) and white clouds, which are clear.

2) About a fifth of the sun’s rays are absorbed by the atmosphere.

3) The remaining half is absorbed by the soil, which heats up. This is where the greenhouse effect starts… This energy collected by the earth will be released in the form of infrared rays which in turn will be absorbed by… greenhouse gases (GHGs).

The cycle has practically ended; this heat accumulated by GHGs will in turn be released, and this contributes to global warming. In other words, it is like a greenhouse, which has windows allowing a large part of the sun’s rays to penetrate and retaining the infrared rays which are emitted.

What are greenhouse gases?

Are greenhouse gases dangerous?

In principle, the contrary is in fact true, because without greenhouse gases, the Earth would only be a ball of ice; it is all a matter of balance. This would be easy to understand if we could say that this cycle of the suns rays => absorption of energy => re-establishment would be completed without any results, that is, with no losses (because the temperature will go down) and with no gains (because the temperature will go up).

In this context, greenhouse gases are one of the major phenomena which enabled the emergence and development of Life on Earth.

Of course, our planet did change over the course of history, but the effects of these were felt over several centuries, even millennia, giving Nature time to adapt. Species have since disappeared, while others have appeared, and this is due to climatic changes.

But man profoundly upset the natural climatic mechanics, this is what we are now going to discuss …