Effects of Greenhouse Gases on Climate and Living Species
Effects of Greenhouse Gases on Climate and Living Species

Effects of Greenhouse Gases on Climate and Living Species

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  • Pages: 5 (2193 words)
  • Published: November 20, 2021
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In recent years, many campaigns have emerged in an effort to address the issue of climate change. The issue of climate change is of great importance to all global citizens. Its importance is clear in Annual Summits by organs like United Nations, which aim is to ensure that the world meets the world climate change challenge of ensuring the environment around each individual is safe, beneficial, and durable. Example of world conferences is the November 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference and the future ones like the awaited 2016 Canada Summit (Ayres & Walter, 1991). The biggest contributors to the climate change are greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere mainly through human activities. A greenhouse gas is a compound in gaseous state that absorbs infrared radiation after its release into the atmosphere. The absorption of the radiation leads to heat holding and an increase in atmospheric heat causing a change in climate or global warming. It is crucial that students learn about greenhouse gases, their sources, and their impacts on the environment to ensure that they avoid activities that increases greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in future.

The most common greenhouse gases emitted in the atmosphere are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), among others. Sources of these gases can be agricultural practices like livestock keeping. Others result from burning of fuels like coals, electricity production, and deforestation. According to research, deforestation plays an essential role in the release of greenhouse gases. The moment a person cuts trees, the dead trees releases carbon they store for photosynthesis (Nobre, Sellers, & Shukla, 1991). The carbon is released into the atmosphere, which contrib

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utes to billion tons of carbon released into the atmosphere annually through this process (Ayres & Walter, 1991).

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas contributing the largest percentage on the greenhouse effect. Its emission is usually through natural processes like animal and plant respiration, volcanic activities, and exchange of oceanic atmosphere. Human activities like cultivation and burning of fossils also contribute to its emission (Rosenzweig et al., 2014).

The above negative feedback loop illustrates effects of CO2 emission into the atmosphere. Increased emissions warm the atmosphere, which reduces the intake of CO2. This pollutes the environment and animals that require oxygen for metabolism, reducing their population as they compete for limited oxygen available in the atmosphere (Cox et al., 2000).

Methane (CH4) emission can be through both human and natural activities. Natural wetlands naturally emit methane. Human activities like fossil fuel extraction and transport have also contributed to its increase in the atmosphere. Concentration of methane increased mainly in the 20th century due to increased industrialization. Like the other greenhouse gases, Nitrous Oxide (N2O) emission result from natural or human activities. Fuel burning and electricity production has led to an increase in emission of nitrogen oxide gas (Eichner, 1990). Since the Industrial Revolution, there has been a 20% rise in concentration of nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere (Sumaila et al., 2011). Water vapor is another greenhouse gas contributing to greenhouse effect. The global temperature changes have influenced rates of evaporation and precipitation.

Another gas is tropospheric ozone (O3). Its main source i

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chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and organic compounds from automobiles or industrial emissions in presence of sunlight. The resulting ozone traps heat, which not only affects the climate but also respiratory diseases. It also disrupts growth of crops and ecosystems. F-gases or fluorocarbon gases are also a greenhouse gases with a long atmospheric lifetime unlike water vapor and O3, which have short atmospheric lifetime. F-gases are used in coolants, pesticides, and foaming agents. Their release into the atmosphere negatively affects the climate (Dove, 1996).

Photosynthesis – Respiration-Combustion
Photosynthesis
CO2 + H2O + sunlight -> CH2O + O2
Respiration
O2 + CH2O -> energy + H2O + CO2
Combustion
O2 + hydrocarbons -> energy + H2O + CO2

Differences in temperatures are due to greenhouses suite. They affect energy balance of the Earth system by the absorption of infrared radiations. The Earth emits infrared radiations to balance absorption of solar radiations. However, due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the atmosphere absorbs more infrared energy than the solar radiations it is emitting to space. This leads to warming of the Earth atmosphere and surface temperature. Continued release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere increases the rate of infrared trapping in the Earth’s surface, resulting to enhanced greenhouse effect (Nobre et al., 1991).

Biologists have tried to look at how the greenhouse effect affects living organisms. They have tried to show how species respond behave in case of climate changes; do they migrate or remain on their current habitats. It is important to note that individual species responds individually to climate changes. Those who are able to adapt to changes in climate, as Charles Darwin states survives to maturity. Those that fail to adapt to these changes become extinct while some migrate to new habitats. Climate changes also affect the entire communities of animals and plants. In some occasions, few communities form while others shift (Nobre et al., 1991).

According to a research by Margaret Davis from University of Minnesota, doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has great effects on species. According to her, the doubling causes four species to shift from their current habitats to about 500 kilometers to the north to find a suitable climate and habitat. She explains that Beech present in east of Mississippi River would shift to areas like Hudson Bay (Dove, 1996). She explains this to illustrate that greenhouse effect leads to shifts in forests. The shifting of the forests affects even the animals. For example, Davis gives an example of Kirtland’s warbler. The endangered bird only breeds on sandy soils of Michigan’s jack pine. If the forests were to shift north due to increased carbon emissions, the birds can be adversely affected.
Climate change has also led to evolutionary and morphological changes to both plants and animals.

A good example is Drosophilla subobscura originally from Europe. The flies have longer wings in countries situated in the north than those in the south. After their introduction in western U.S., flies that had same wing length mimicked their ancestors by adapting the temperature incline from south to north. Those in the North developed long wings while those in south California developed short wings.

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