Global Warming

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How have humans impacted the greenhouse effect?

Humans have impacted the greenhouse effect by burning fossil fuels. This increases the number of greenhouse gases trapped in our atmosphere, which traps heat and contributes to global warming.

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The greenhouse effect is mostly the result of burning carbon and other fossil fuels. When substances such as coal and petroleum are burned, gaseous carbon is released into the atmosphere . This carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. Certain agricultural activities also release large amounts of methane and...

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The greenhouse effect is mostly the result of burning carbon and other fossil fuels. When substances such as coal and petroleum are burned, gaseous carbon is released into the atmosphere. This carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. Certain agricultural activities also release large amounts of methane and nitrous oxide which have a similar greenhouse effect as carbon dioxide. The industrialized world releases vast amounts of these greenhouse gases into the air on a constant basis. This has had a hugely consequential impact on the overall makeup of the planet's atmosphere.

When solar radiation comes to Earth, most of it is reflected back into space. However, these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere function like a blanket and trap much of this heat close to the planet's surface. As more greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere, more heat is trapped.

This began in the 1800s with the Industrial Revolution, the first time large-scale coal-burning took place. As industrial activities expanded along with the rapid surge of the global human population, this effect grew exponentially. It is thought that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased by one-third since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Currently, carbon levels in the atmosphere are at about 400 parts per billion, something that has not occurred in hundreds of thousands of years. This is what is mostly responsible for the greenhouse effect.

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