The greenhouse effect is one of the main causes of climate change. Due to its effect, the global temperature is rising and, consequently, an imbalance is created that has dire consequences for life on Earth. However, despite the bad reputation of the greenhouse effect, it is important to know the difference between the natural and artificial greenhouse effect , since one is necessary for life on the planet, while the other could lead to its end. more dramatic. differentiate between natural greenhouse and artificial greenhouse
The greenhouse effect is a process through which the heat that comes from the sun and that reaches a planet is trapped in its atmosphere . This is because certain types of gases retain a part of the heat that comes from the sun and “bounces” off the earth’s surface. This keeps the temperature of the atmosphere higher. In fact, if there were no greenhouse gases on Earth, our planet would have an average temperature of -18ºC. In this way, the greenhouse effect allows the planet’s temperature to be higher by retaining an important part of the heat that comes to us from the sun and which, in fact, is essential for life to exist on Earth.
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However, when greenhouse gases are very high, this heat retention is too high, leading to an exaggerated increase in temperatures. This has direct consequences on the life of the entire planet, including human beings. The first consequence of excess greenhouse gases is an increase in global temperature that leads to the melting of the polar ice caps. This would cause the coastal areas, where a great majority of cities and towns are concentrated, to be completely flooded. In addition, an increase in global temperature would lead to the destruction of a multitude of ecosystems, as well as many animal and plant species.
This uncontrolled increase in greenhouse gases is not accidental, but comes from human activities . It is the so-called artificial or anthropogenic greenhouse effect , that is, of human origin, which, unlike allowing life on Earth as happens with the natural greenhouse effect, poses a real threat to its survival.
The first difference is that, after millions of years of evolution, life has developed to survive in specific temperature ranges, which are natural ones, and which are established by the natural greenhouse effect. On the contrary, the artificial greenhouse effect is an element that, when introduced into the whole, the consequence it has is to unbalance the established order.
Secondly, it must also be taken into account that both greenhouse effects differ in the speed at which they undergo modifications. The natural greenhouse effect has not been constant throughout life on Earth. However, their fluctuations have generally been balanced, which has allowed life to adapt to the new situation of the ecosystem. On the contrary, the artificial greenhouse effect is barely over 200 years old, since its beginning can be established with the Industrial Revolution and the use of coal as a source of energy. In addition, in recent decades, the increase in the use of fossil fuels has accelerated its effects, so that, unlike what happens with the natural greenhouse effect, it is a greenhouse effect that modifies the environment too quickly to that organisms and ecosystems can adapt.
On the other hand, it must be taken into account that, although some greenhouse gases such as CO2 are common in both the natural and artificial effects, others are not and, in the case of the artificial effect, in addition to putting in danger the balance of the planet also affect the health of animals and people. A good example of these gases are nitrous oxides, which result from the combustion of gasoline and especially diesel. These gases are responsible for part of the atmospheric pollution that can be observed in large cities and, in addition to spoiling the landscape, they are also related to respiratory and autoimmune diseases. In fact, a non-smoker who lives in an urban center with high amounts of nitrous oxides in the atmosphere will have a similar health to that of a person who lives in the country but who smokes seven cigarettes a day on average (naturally, this This figure is indicative, since the equivalent of cigarettes will depend on the number of polluting particles present in the air, and may reach cases in which health is similar to that of an active smoker).
The only way to avoid the artificial greenhouse effect is to stop emitting these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and eliminating those that have already been released. For this, it is essential to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas, as well as all its derivatives). This can be achieved by making use of renewable energies to replace them, as well as reducing our dependence and consumption of transports that make use of these energy sources. A good way is to use sustainable transport such as public service, cycling or simply walking. In addition, it is also important to buy local products, since, by not having to be transported, their production has implied a lower emission of artificial greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Another very important way to minimize greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere is to reduce the consumption of food of animal origin (meat, fish, eggs, dairy, etc.), since it is an industry that involves the release of many amounts of these gases into the atmosphere, while plant options carry a much smaller impact.
On the other hand, in addition to reducing this type of emissions, it is essential to counteract those that have already been issued and continue to be issued. For this, the best solution is to stop deforestation and support reforestation programs. Trees act as air purifiers. They absorb CO2 and release O2 , oxygen that, in addition to avoiding the greenhouse effect, humans need to breathe. In addition, they also absorb a good part of the polluting gases present in the atmosphere, so they act as a purifier that not only gives us oxygen, but also health. In this way, the more forests and green areas there are, the more we will counteract the consequences of the artificial greenhouse effect.