The GlobalWarming Awareness2007 I believe has been over sensationalizing this topic. Being a person who was interested in science, way back in the late 1980’s people were talking about the ozone layer depletion, which for the unfamiliar, it is nice to set clear early that the ozone layer depletion and global warming are two different things. And I guess the only thing that makes them similar in anyway is that the harm is coming from the sun. I will deal with ozone layer depletion later on and lets stick with what causes global warming.
The main cause of GlobalWarming is what is known as the Greenhouse Effect. In my attempt for the simplest way to explain it, it goes this way:
- The sun emits all sorts of electromagnetic radiation. These come in various wavelengths and the most prominent and observable among these waves are the UV, Visible and IR. Visible light is the light we see and which gives color to what we see. UV and IR are not observable with our own eyes although IR could be felt as it causes certain molecular oscillations that we can feel as heat. UV is totally something else which could actually knock out some electrons forming unpaired electron bonds making free radicals which are known to cause cancer.
- In globalwarming, we talk mainly about IR. As all these waves of electromagnetic radiation go thought the atmosphere where some are also bounced back, as they hit the earth’s surface, these are bounced back as some waves go out back into space as others hit molecules of greenhouse gas in our atmosphere causes the atmosphere to heat up and thus causing global warming.
A common observable similar effect but not involving greenhouse gas, is having a car parked under the sun with all windows closed. Even if it is a cool, windy day, with sunlight going through the car window generates heat inside and the heat has no where to go out. And as you open up the car, there is an extreme amount of heat.
To explain this probably in an illustrated manner, here is an image from the United Nations Environment Program/GRID Arendal website. You may click on the image to view a larger copy.
To view an animated explanation, here is a presentation by the University of California San Deigo Earthguide Website.
Is the greenhouse effect due to too much Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the air?
There is some truth to that. As a lot of people has sensationalized this in the past, the highest contributor to globalwarming among all greenhouse gases is actually water (H2O). So if people keep saying avoid using CO2 to avoid globalwarming as part of their awareness2007 program, still the main cause of globalwarming among all greenhouse gasses is water. And this has the most significant impact of the greenhouse effect. And I guess it would be impossible to say not use water to avoid globalwarming. Our planet earth alone is 75% covered with water.
Many people have shown studies that the increase in CO2 has increase the global temperature of the earth, how true is this?
Many people has said that due to the industrialization and the consumption of fossil fuels (burning of oil and oil based products for energy) has given so much CO2 in the atmosphere causes a significant increase of global temperature over some period of time. As some people even give their own testimonials saying things like “This year was a lot more hot than last year.” And attributing this observation due to humans consumption of fuel and giving off excessive amounts of CO2.
Although human made CO2 is known to contribute in the greenhouse gases, the CO2 of the whole world made by man is not even near 1% of all the total abundance greenhouse gases. Mainly caused by water. Below is a graph of Monte Hieb, Chief Engineer for the West Virginia Office of Miner’s Safety who has done some geological survey work on fossils show that based on his research on greenhouse gases show the current results: (Click on image for a clearer, large copy)
Human added greenhouse gases are such a minute amount, that it cannot be even attributed to the trend of increase in global temperature cause by global warming. In another study, note the two graphs compiled by Monte Hieb.
You will notice a trend of dropping concentrations of CO2 and yet temperature fluctuations occur and actually increase at times while the CO2 steadily drops. Showing that CO2 and global temperature are not directly correlated. Although in a large scale, the trend seems to be the same, but in reality it is the increase in heat that causes the increase in CO2 due to natural combustion and not the other way around where CO2 is causing the heat.
So if it is not CO2 contributing to GlobalWarming, what does?
As part of the GlobalWarming Awareness2007 movement, I will tackle this topic tomorrow. And other topics after that will be the difference of the ozone layer depletion and global warming due to the greenhouse effect. There is more to come.