Why is the greenhouse effect important

The greenhouse effect

Without the natural greenhouse effect, there would be no life on earth: it stores heat in the atmosphere and prevents the planet from freezing. Without the greenhouse effect, the average temperature would not be the current plus 15 ° C, but minus 18 ° C! The greenhouse effect is caused by various gases in the earth's atmosphere. Mainly by steam (H.2O) and a number of trace gases. They keep the thermal radiation on the earth - therefore their concentration and their interactions are of great importance for our climate.

What are greenhouse gases?

  • Water vapor H2O,
  • Carbon dioxide CO2 and
  • Methane CH4.
  • Nitrogen oxide and PFC gases are also considered to have a very positive impact on the climate.

With the exception of PFCs, these greenhouse gases occur in natural sources; but they are also caused by us humans. And that is the crux of the change in our climate.

Ozone is also a climate-relevant gas; it is created under the influence of solar radiation in the atmosphere and forms the ozone layer. This layer absorbs UV radiation and thus protects our earth.

Heat balance works in a similar way to a greenhouse:

The greenhouse gases surround the earth like a protective gas shell. Most of the light radiation from the sun can pass through them; But the heat radiation of the earth's surface - when land masses and seas are warmed up by the rays of the sun, they emit heat rays - holds back the shell.

The gases have a similar effect to the glass roof of a greenhouse: They let the sunlight through, but hold back some of the heat radiated from the earth's surface. The earth and air continue to heat up. This is how the natural greenhouse effect works, which makes life on our planet possible.

Anthropogenic greenhouse effect: Changed by people

When the concentration of greenhouse gases increases due to human activities, the greenhouse effect changes and the temperature of the earth rises - then we speak of man-made climate change. The fact is: over the millennia there have been repeated fluctuations in the global average temperature of one to two degrees. Since industrialization, however, temperatures have risen exceptionally quickly.