Serving Franklin County, WA

Greenhouse gases raise Earth temp

We all need to understand climate science.

Climate fundamentals are simple: Sunshine warms the Earth, and the Earth radiates heat back into space as infrared. Earth’s temperature results from how much radiant heat gets trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. GHGs are trace gases but have a disproportionate influence on temperatures.

Nitrogen, oxygen and argon represent 78%, 21%, and 0.9% of our atmosphere and are not greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gases only make up a fraction of the remaining 0.1%; gases such as carbon-dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are Earth’s “thermostat gases.”

Of these gases, carbon-dioxide is responsible for more than three-quarters of the greenhouse effect.

Atmospheric water vapor complicates this simplified description.

Water vapor traps infrared, is almost all from natural sources, is short-lived and is highly variable. Water vapor supercharges temperature swings and stores the energy released in hurricanes and tornadoes.

When we increase greenhouse gas concentrations, we raise the temperature, which increases atmospheric water vapor and the destructive power of weather events.

Since the industrial revolution, when we started burning fossil fuels, carbon-dioxide levels have risen from 0.028% to 0.042%, a 50% increase.

And once you realize that we’ve raised Earth’s thermostat by 50%, you don’t need to be a scientist to understand why we need to turn it down again. And quickly.

Simon Smith

Pullman

 

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