The greenhouse effect is the phenomenon that, under normal conditions, allows life on planet earth as we know it. It is the effect by which the sun’s heat that reaches the earth is not bounced back to space in its entirety and remains in a certain percentage, giving rise to an ideal temperature for life on planet earth (animals, plants, beings alive …).
The earth’s atmosphere and the gases that make it up are the layers that retain and returns to the earth part of that heat from the sun reaches the earth’s surface and is reflected into space. The term greenhouse effect is used because the earth’s atmosphere does a job similar to that done by plastic tents in greenhouse orchards.
The problem has arisen when, as a result of human activity and industrial and social growth, the amount of gases in the atmosphere with properties to cause this greenhouse effect has increased disproportionately and in very short times. By increasing the proportion of greenhouse gases above-normal concentrations, the terrestrial natural greenhouse effect has multiplied, leading to a harmful phenomenon.
This increased quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can have diverse and debatable consequences. Still, mainly it can lead to an increase in global terrestrial temperature and trigger collapse effects in marine currents, atmospheric movements, and terrestrial dynamics in general. It is giving rise to final consequences that are difficult to quantify and predictable (rise in sea level, movement of species, the disappearance of species, melting of the poles …). When the greenhouse effect becomes a phenomenon with negative consequences for planetary life, it is often referred to as climate change.
But it must also be said that throughout the history of the planet, the climate had nothing to do with what we now know and climate change phenomena have occurred, going from glacial periods to interglacial periods ( like the one we are in right now). The difference between what happens now with what has been happening throughout geological times is that the change is being forced to happen quickly since it is not occurring naturally but is being caused by an increase in greenhouse gases from human activities.
The greenhouse effect occurs when certain gases retain a part of the Earth’s soil’s energy when heated by radiation from the sun. This phenomenon happens naturally. Thanks to it, the Earth’s average temperature is about 14º C. Otherwise, it would be around 18º C below zero, which would make life on our planet very difficult.
The problem happens when those greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere. Then, the amount of energy that is not released into space also increases and, with it, the Earth’s temperature.
According to the Global Climate Report, every month except one has been hotter than average since 1977. The consequences of the greenhouse effect and climate change for our planet are catastrophic. Stop imagining them because we reveal them to you below.
As a consequence of global warming, large glacial masses are disappearing. This, in turn, translates into a decrease in solar radiation that the Earth’s surface returns to the atmosphere, the rise in sea level, and the release of large amounts of methane.
The survival of coastal populations is at risk. From 1901 to 2020, the mean sea level has risen 19 centimeters. The forecast is that in 2100 it will increase another 15 or 90 centimeters more, putting 92 million people in danger.
The greenhouse effect is not the cause of these natural phenomena, but it does increase their magnitude. The creation of hurricanes is directly related to the temperature of the sea.
Migrations to survive rising temperatures and climate change, certain species and people have to migrate. The World Bank is warning us that in 2050, some 140 million people could be forced to leave their place of origin due to droughts or floods.
Desertification Global warming dramatically affects the soil, degrading it to the point of large desertifying areas. This phenomenon is destroying the biological balance, turning fertile lands into barren and unproductive. As the UN indicates, 30% of the lands are already degraded and have lost their real value.
Therefore, the seasons’ duration and the growth times in some areas of the planet have already been altered. Also, the increase in temperature favors insect pests, invasive grasses, and diseases. Livestock is also affected by global warming: changes in its metabolism, health, reproduction, etc.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is concerned about how climate change affects food availability. It warns that if there is a decrease in agricultural production, the consequence would be food shortages.
Global warming causes infectious diseases such as malaria, cholera, or dengue to spread to areas of the planet where they were not common. Also, people will suffer more cardiovascular and respiratory problems due to the increase in heat.