Greenhouse Effect and Greenhouse Gases

The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon. Sunlight falls through the atmosphere to the earth, heating its surface. Not all of the heat remains there, however.
Most of it is emitted as long-wave thermal radiation from the Earth’s surface into space. In this respect, the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere play an important role. For the most part, they allow the short-wave solar radiation through. But the long-wave thermal radiation which is coming from the surface is partly absorbed by these gases, which means that additional heat is stored in the atmosphere like in a greenhouse. As a result of human activity, more and more of these greenhouse gases are finding their way into the atmosphere, strengthening the greenhouse effect. The additional heat is causing climate change, with the earth heating up and with some huge consequences for the environment and people. Carbon dioxide has by far the greatest share of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, which means emissions that are caused by human activity. This mainly arises when fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil, or natural gas are burned. To be able to better summarise and analyze the effects of the gases, their global warming potential can be expressed in the form of CO2 equivalents. This shows how much more an individual greenhouse gas contributes to global warming in the next 100 years compared with the impact of CO2. Accordingly, the impact of methane is 25 times greater than CO2. Therefore, in the first 100 years of its emission, one kilogram of methane contributes 25 times more to the greenhouse effect than one kilogram of CO2. In Germany, methane largely arises through agricultural livestock farming and the waste sector. The impact of nitrous oxide is 298 times greater than CO2. This mainly arises during the production and use of fertilizers and in the chemical industry.
Although fluorinated gases only account for a very small proportion of total emissions, some of them have an extremely potent greenhouse impact. The CO2 equivalent of sulphur hexafluoride, for example, is 22,800. F-gases are used as coolants and extinguishing agents, as propellants, and in solvents, among others. In Germany, most greenhouse gas emissions arise when fossil fuels such as oil or coal are burned to generate energy. The primary source in this area is the energy industry, for example, the generation of electrical power and heat. This is followed by transport, industrial furnaces, private households, and the commercial, retail, and service sectors. Other emissions are caused by the production processes in industry, Agriculture, and waste management. If emissions from energy production are broken down and the share accounted for by industrial furnaces and production processes are added together, it is clear that industry as a whole is the second biggest source of emissions. All of these emissions intensify the greenhouse effect. For this reason, it is necessary to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases as far as possible or, ideally, for them to be stopped entirely. Important political measures include a transport revolution, for example, with more walking, cycling, and use of public transport, a switch to electromobility, and, overall, significantly fewer cars and lorries on the roads. More efficient and more economical fertilization and lower livestock numbers in the area of agriculture. And, of course, the energy revolution, for example, the complete phase-out of coal-fired power generation in favor of renewable energies and the efficient and economical use of energy. Fewer man-made greenhouse gases mean less warming,
and every reduction in emissions makes an important contribution to the protection of the climate.

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