The Earth’s greenhouse effect is caused by a concentration of the four main greenhouse gases that gather in the atmosphere. These gases are what causes global warming. The gas that causes the most damage is water vapor. Human activity indirectly affects the water vapor levels that contribute to global warming. However, there are some greenhouse gases that we as humans are directly responsible for.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – This is the gas that is a product of the burning of fossil fuels and it is also caused by deforestation. It makes up three-quarters of the warming impact that we as humans have on the atmosphere. This is why people are feverishly looking for fuel alternatives and ways to reduce the production of CO2.
Nitrous Oxide (N2O) – This gas has a much smaller impact than carbon dioxide, but it is very potent. Sources of nitrous oxide include industrial processes and agricultural practices that involve nitrogen-fertilized soils and livestock waste. There are alternatives to these fertilizers and many people have decided to eat less meat in order to reduce the numbers of livestock and their effects on the environment.
Methane (CH4) – Methane has a much shorter persistence period when compared to carbon dioxide, but it is a lot more potent. Methane is responsible for approximately 14% of the greenhouse gas effect. It is mainly a product of agricultural practices, the decay of organic waste, and fossil fuel extraction.
Fluorinated gases – Again, this gas is responsible for a smaller impact on the atmosphere than the other three, but it is the most potent of the four human-caused greenhouse gases. The main thing that contributes to the production of these potent and powerful F-gases is industrial processes. We as humans rely on so many industrial processes to get specific types of materials and products. These consumer habits are driving the industrial processes that cause F-gases.
These four gases are what people are working towards reducing when they talk about reducing their carbon footprint. How can you reduce yours?