Causes of an Enhanced Greenhouse Effect
Complete 12 pages APA formatted article: Causes of an Enhanced Greenhouse Effect. Essentially, the greenhouse effect functions in the following manner. When sunlight pierces the atmosphere and hits the earths surface, not all of the suns solar energy is absorbed. Approximately a third of it is reflected back into space. Specific atmospheric gases serve in much the same way as does the glass of a greenhouse, thus the terminology. These gases allow sunlight to penetrate then trap some of the solar energy which heats the earth (Breuer, 1980). It is a delicate balance and because these greenhouse gases have been artificially augmented by man-made sources, more build up in the atmosphere has occurred thus trapping more of the suns energy and reflecting less back into space. This occurrence is causing the earth to warm.Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the most prevalent of the greenhouse gases. Trees absorb CO2 and when they die, CO2 is restored to the atmosphere. The clearing of forests by mass burning, which is happening at a phenomenal rate in the tropical rain forests, is decreasing the amount of CO2 that is absorbed and increasing the amount that is added to the atmosphere. CO2 supplies about half of the total gases that create the greenhouse effect (Breuer, 1980). Although deforestation is contributing heavily to the excess of CO2 in the atmosphere, a larger portion is caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal. Fossil fuels are burned by factories, vehicles, and electricity-producing power plants to name a few sources. The vast majority of this excessive fuel consumption and its poisonous, pollutant, and greenhouse-enhancing byproducts are located in the U.S., Europe, and Russia (Breuer, 1980). Other greenhouse gases .include methane, which is released when vegetation is burned during land clearing, during oil exploration activities and the coal-mining process. chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which is the substance that cools refrigerators and provides the propulsion in aerosol cans and nitrous oxide (N2O) which is the lesser cause of CO2.