Geography

Greenhouse effect


The greenhouse effect is a natural structure of planet Earth to allow the temperature to be maintained at an average of 15ºC, ideal for balancing most of the life forms on our planet.

Without the natural greenhouse effect, planet Earth could be very cold, not allowing the development of much of the animal and plant species. This would happen because the solar radiation reflected by the Earth would be completely lost.

However, in times of almost uncontrollable advancement of industrialization, human actions such as the emission of polluting gases have accelerated this process, causing the temperature of the planet to become increasingly hot with each passing year.


Explanatory scheme of the Greenhouse Effect

The main pollutant gases causing this effect are:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is produced by burning fossil fuels,
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O),
  • Methane (CH4) and chlorine fluoride carbide (CFC).

The large amount of gases emitted by industries and cars (greenhouse gases) forms a layer over large cities, making it impossible for heat to completely dissipate, playing the literal role of a greenhouse over that region.

This is what happens throughout the planet, the gases emitted by the world accumulate in the atmosphere, constituting a barrier that prevents the excess of solar rays from being reflected back into space in the form of infrared radiation. Like a greenhouse, this layer of gases trap heat in the atmosphere, making the planet hotter and hotter.


Pollutants and the greenhouse effect

Due to the actions of man, the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere has increased gradually over the years. Scientists say the twentieth century was the warmest in the last 500 years. Countries like the United States and China are some of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, as they are extremely industrialized and fuel consuming nations.


Emission of polluting gases

Consequences of the greenhouse effect

With the high temperature of our planet, many problems can happen, such as the disappearance of several species of fauna and flora.

Melting ice caps, the world's largest freshwater reserve, is another major problem. With this, we will have the rise in sea level and the disappearance of several islands and coastal regions, resulting in a total reconfiguration of the continents as we know today.

Natural disasters such as tidal waves, typhoons, floods and hurricanes will become more susceptible to occur and can affect agricultural production across the planet, directly harming the population's food supply.


Melting glaciers is one of the consequences of global warming.

Measures to alleviate the problem

Several countries, non-governmental organizations and government entities, already aware of the problems caused by the greenhouse effect, discuss what measures to take to minimize this process.

In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol was signed, which provides for the reduction of the emission of polluting gases. However, highly industrialized countries such as the United States and China hinder this process by claiming that reducing emissions would hinder progress in their industries.

Brazil occupies a prominent place in the ranking of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet. However, in recent years it has adopted a sustainability campaign to minimize these effects without affecting the country's progress.


Explanatory map of the countries that emit the most polluting gases

For more information, read our article on the greenhouse effect.