Greenhouse Gases Lead to Global Warming which Equals Climate Change
Global Warming is Occurring and the Consequences are Evident to the Layman
The Doomsday Clock is a symbol which represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Climate change, as a result of global warming, is one of the two biggest threats mankind faces. This, according to, “the experts who set the Doomsday Clock for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.”
The other thing mankind could do to destroy humanity quickly, create a nuclear winter with a nuclear war.
We have three metaphorical minutes left according to the Doomsday Clock.
In 2012, we had five.
But, in 2016, “They have moved the Clock two minutes closer to midnight.” The reason being according to Wired’s Emily Reynolds, “the increasing threats of nuclear war and global warming.”
And, not everyone agrees we even have that much time. Others disagree that nuclear war and climate change are equal threats. While, “there have been repeated cases when nuclear war came ominously close,” global warming is happening.
“[It’s] by now widely accepted by the scientific community that we have entered a new geological era, the Anthropocene.” Anthropocene is the name of the geological era in which mankind began changing the climate radically.
“The Earth’s climate is being radically modified by human action,” explains Noam Chomsky. The changes are, “creating a very different planet, one that may not be able to sustain organized human life.”
“At least,” he argues, “in anything like a form we would want to tolerate.”
It is far from unreasonable to argue greenhouse gases are the greatest threat to mankind. Given the scientific data accumulated in the last two decades, it almost certainly is. The reason being, unlike preventing a nuclear war, no one is certain we can reverse the effects of global warming.
What is Global Warming and What are Greenhouse Gases?
As the name implies, global warming is a heating of the Earth. Global warming is a warming of the atmosphere, the oceans and bodies of water, and the land on Earth. A consequence of human activity, global warming is a symptom of an increase in greenhouse gases.
Gases that qualify as greenhouse gases are those with global warming potential (GWP) typically.
The Environmental Protection Agency explains global warming potential as the efficiency of a gas to absorb heat. “[GWP] is a measure of how much energy the emissions of 1 ton of a gas will absorb over a given period of time.” The standard by which greenhouse gases are measured is carbon dioxide, one ton of it.
One (1) ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) has a GWP of 1.
How do Greenhouses Gases Heat the Globe?
Global warming is a simple concept to understand. However, there is a common misnomer with respect to global warming that greatly confuses the issue. The word absorb is often used to describe the action of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases do not absorb energy. Greenhouse gases do not absorb heat.
Greenhouse gas molecule chains reflect heat. But, greenhouse gases do not reflect solar energy.
Understanding what greenhouse gases do is a matter of understanding solar versus thermal heat. Solar energy from the sun travels through space and enters the Earth’s atmosphere. The surface of the Earth absorbs the solar energy. That solar energy becomes thermal energy, heat.
The heat then escapes into the atmosphere where — without greenhouse gases, it would radiate off into space. But, greenhouse gases prevent heat from the surface of the Earth from escaping the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases reflect thermal energy — that was once solar energy — back toward the Earth.
How Do Greenhouse Gases Reflect Thermal Energy Back to Earth?
Greenhouse gases are made of molecule chains that are much more complex than the other gases in the atmosphere. The complex molecule chains of greenhouse gases prevent heat from escaping into space by blanketing the atmosphere.
The blanket of greenhouse gases reflects heat back toward the surface of the Earth. As the heat is unable to escape, global temperatures continue to get hotter.
What are the Effects of Global Warming, of Climate Change?
As the USA Today un-eloquently — but accurately — explained, “We are cooked.”
Again, greenhouse gases do not absorb heat. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere. It is trapped heat — not absorbed heat — in the atmosphere that creates global warming. Once trapped, the heat has an effect on the atmosphere.
One effect of the trapped heat from global warming is climate change.
The future effects of climate change are unknown.
However, NASA scientists are already seeing dramatic changes in the climate. According to its Global Climate Change page, “Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner.”
Additionally, scientists are seeing dramatic changes in weather patterns. As the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere increases, so do sea surface temperatures (SST). Scientists speculate that “Global warming already appears to be making hurricanes more intense.”
Already Seeing the Consequences of Climate Change
The Scientific American printed an article titled, “Was the Extreme 2017 Hurricane Season Driven by Climate Change?” Following the devastation in the Gulf Coast in the summer and fall of 2017, at the least, the notion is curious.
Hurricane Irma hit Florida as the second most intense hurricane in recorded history. Never before had Texas experienced a hurricane like Harvey. “Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”
Scientists and meteorologists believe an increase in global temperatures will make storms more intense. Warmer ambient temperatures evaporate water at a higher rate. Water vapor powers hurricanes, cyclones, and tornadoes. It follows that storms will become more intense around the world as global temperatures rise.
Others believe the change already occurred. “Since 1981 the maximum wind speed of the most powerful hurricanes has risen, according to research (pdf) by Jim Elsner, a climatologist at The Florida State University. That’s because higher ocean heat provides more energy for storms, fueling their intensity. Hurricane Patricia, in 2015, set the record at the time for top wind speed—215 miles per hour—in the north Atlantic. The next year Winston shattered records as the most intense cyclone in the Southern Hemisphere,” explains Annie Sneed of the Scientific American.
Can We Slow, Stop, or Reverse Climate Change?
Like so many things pertaining to greenhouse gases, global warming, and climate change, there is very little consensus. Experts and scientists have a difficult time agreeing on what we have already done. They can hardly agree on what we are doing now. Very few agree as to what we can expect.
But, the biggest source of contention is whether or not we can slow, stop, or reverse climate change.
According to the Guardian, scientists generally agree that greenhouse gases have a limited shelf life in the atmosphere. While there are others that are more dangerous, carbon dioxide is the most concerning greenhouse gas because it is the most abundance.
“Between 65% and 80% of CO2 released into the air dissolves into the ocean over a period of 20–200 years. The rest is removed by slower processes that take up to several hundreds of thousands of years, including chemical weathering and rock formation.”
In other words, explains scientist from CarbonBrief.com, “This means that once in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide can continue to affect climate for thousands of years.”
Can’t Change What We’ve Done, but Can Change What We’re Doing
No one is discussing the reversal of global warming effects. For the time being, we are resigned to deal with the greenhouse gases we’ve already put into the atmosphere. But, we can slow the rate at which we pour greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in the future.
We have the technology to slow our output of greenhouse gases significantly. For example, the Rentar Fuel Catalyst can reduce black smoke by an extraordinary amount, 44%. The Rentar creates reductions of carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrous oxides (Nox) by more than 19%. CO2 can be reduced by the amount the catalyst can reduce fuel consumption.
The Rentar reduces organic carbons by 35%.
And, the Rentar reduces cancer-causing gases by between 35% and 58%.
The technology is available for us to begin curbing our emissions.
The question is, will we make the necessary changes in time.