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How We Are Affecting the Climate

How We are Affecting the Climate

The Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect occurs naturally when heat from the Earth's surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), which are naturally present in the air. These gases allow the Earth's atmosphere to be warm enough to support life.

However, the burning of fossil fuels for energy, industrial production and the clearing of forests to raise livestock have increased the production of GHGs. These additional GHGs trap even more heat in the atmosphere, making the Earth warmer.

Based on scientific reports as of October 2015, the current global atmospheric CO2 concentration stands at 398.55 parts per million (ppm) and increases at approximately 2ppm per year. The IPCC projected in its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) that CO2e (or carbon dioxide equivalent) levels will need to stabilise at 450ppm in order to limit the global increase in temperature to 2°C.

The Enhanced Greenhouse Effect
The Enhanced Greenhouse Effect

Last updated 23 Jan 2018

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