Greenhouse gas present in the earth’s atmosphere traps heat from sunlight. These gases let the sunlight pass through the atmosphere but do not let the heat that sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. The major greenhouse gases are
- Water vapor
- Carbon dioxide
- Nitrous Oxide
Greenhouse gases trap the heat, thereby making the planet warmer. Human activities are the major reason for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years. The biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.
The man-made greenhouse gas sources are as follows
- Power Plants
- Residential buildings
- Road transport
- Deforestation, Forest degradation, and land-use change
- Energy industries process and losses
- Commercial buildings
- Agriculture soils
- Cement ceramics, and Glass production
- Iron, and steel manufacture
- Chemical, and Petro-Chemical Industries
- Oil, and Gas production
- Waste and waste water
- Coal mining
Why Greenhouse gas is bad?
As greenhouse gas emissions from human activities increase, so do the greenhouse gas build-up in the atmosphere leading to climate change, and many other changes in the atmosphere, on land, and in the oceans. These changes have both positive and pessimistic impacts on individuals, society, and the climate—including plants and animals. Since a large number of greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for tens to hundreds of years after being released into the atmosphere their warming consequences for the environment continue for quite a while and can therefore affect both present and future generations.
Modern climate change is brought about by an excess of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Thus, over-insulates the planet, and accordingly leads to temperature rise. The impact of an excessive amount of insulation over-heats the atmosphere which has already begun to cause changes in the climate.
Sources of greenhouse gases
Methane is a colorless, odorless, and highly flammable gas made up of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4) as its primary components. It is produced naturally and can also be produced synthetically. When burned in the presence of oxygen it produces water vapor and CO2. Methane is a significant contributor to climate change and is one of the most powerful greenhouse gas emissions.
How it’s produced: Released during the production, and transportation of fossil fuels, oil, and natural gas. Methane emission also occurs from livestock, agricultural practices, and anaerobic digestion of organic waste matter in the landfills.
The average lifetime of CH4: Around 12 years
Global warming potential: 28-36. It is short-lived and traps 20 times more heat from the atmosphere compared to CO2.
Solutions to reduce Methane emission:
- Do not use landfills for bio-degradable waste. Encourage using anaerobic digesters for treating organic waste matter such as food, and kitchen scraps, garden trimmings, and many others. CHUGG- an innovative food waste treatment system in India that feeds on organic waste which decomposes in a huge container using Nano-technology. The resultant Biogas offsets the LPG bill and the residue Bio-slurry is nutrient-rich manure that enhances plant growth. Hence can be sold or used in your own garden. CHUGG- innovative food waste treatment system is capable of producing renewable energy, manure, and is a great solution for diverting organic waste from reaching the landfill. This helps with food waste management in India.
- Support organic farming. In organic farming, livestock is kept alive longer instead of replacing old livestock with younger calves.
- Bring changes to your dietary habits by reducing dairy and red meat consumption
- Replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.
The water then goes above the boiling point produces steam and evaporates. This can occur anywhere in a lake, river, or ocean. This evaporated steam forms clouds and rains back on Earth. Thus causing a cooling effect in the atmosphere.
Water vapor, on the other hand, is one of the world’s largest contributors to the greenhouse effect. On average water vapor affects the atmosphere by 60%. The amount of water vapor is directly in direct connection to the temperature. In the event that you more water evaporates and becomes vapor, and the other way around. So when something different like additional CO2 from non-renewable energy sources more water evaporates. Thus additional water vapor causes the temperature to go up even further. Hence water vapor is considered one of the major contributors to the greenhouse effect.
Carbon dioxide mainly comprises carbon and oxygen and is naturally found in the atmosphere. It is produced from decaying, living organisms, and volcanos.
How it’s produced: Produced when fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal are burned for energy, solid wastes, wood products, and trees. Changes in land use, deforestation, soil degradation, also add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Average lifetime: Once CO2 is emitted it hangs around the atmosphere for 100-300years
Global warming potential: 1
Solutions to reduce CO2 emission
- Trees are good at storing carbon removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis. Expanding, restoring, and managing forests encourage the uptake of carbon from the atmosphere and convert it into carbon stored in wood and soil.
- Soils naturally store carbon but using chemical fertilizers does not help the soil store carbon. Planting cover crops, using compost, or installing a food waste treatment system that produces Bio slurry (organic manure very rich in vital nutrients essential for plant growth) restore carbon content into the soil again.
- Use Biomass for energy in transportation, industries, and many other sectors. This is done by capturing carbon before it is released into the atmosphere, and then stored either underground or long-lived products like concrete.
- Industries can use a direct air capture system which is similar to carbon capture but this method removes excess carbon also from the atmosphere, instead of capturing it at the source through the process of chemical scrubbing carbon dioxide directly from the air.
- Use carbon-mineralized building materials. Carbon mineralization is the process in which minerals react with CO2, turning carbon from a gas into a solid.
Ozone comprises of three oxygen atoms (O3) which occurs both in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and ground level. Naturally present ozone gas reflects solar radiation back to space protecting people and the planet from harmful radiation. Whereas the ground level ozone gas is a harmful air pollutant. Pollutants from a wide range of sources react with each other forming ground-level ozone gas. This gas is unhealthy- causes chronic diseases in humans, and leads to many environmental challenges.
How it’s produced?
Ground level ozone emission is not naturally present in air, but is created by wide range of pollutants. For instance, when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight ground-level ozone gas is created.
The average lifetime of Ozone: Between 50-100 years
Global warming potential: GWP value for ozone is between 918-1022—one of the highest values recorded. Whereas, when considered over a 20-year horizon the GWP is valued at only 62-69
Solutions to reduce Ozone emission
- Better monitoring of Ozone levels
- Ozone gas is unstable hence Co-ordinated trans-boundary strategies are to be recommended
- Encourage public to use public transport, green infrastructure, and raising public awareness
Nitrous oxide comprises two nitrogen atoms and one oxygen atom(N2O)- a greenhouse gas hundreds of times more powerful than carbon dioxide. It is a natural part of the nitrogen cycle which is made by bacteria present in the soil, and the ocean.
How it’s produced?
Emission of nitrous oxide occurs during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during the combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste.
The average lifetime of Nitrous Oxide: 121 years
Global warming potential: 265-298
Solutions to reduce Nitrous oxide emission
Agriculture releases about 80% of nitrous oxide, therefore, encourage farmers to use fewer nitrogen fertilizers. Nitrogen fertilizers emit nitrous oxide into the air also reduces the humus content of the soil. The residual by-product of CHUGG- innovative food waste treatment system is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the right amount required for crops to grow. It also adds the humus content of the soil and improve plant growth by reducing weed growth by 50%. Hence it is evident that it very ideal for plant growth.
Several gaseous compounds that contain carbon, chlorine, fluorine, and sometimes hydrogen, that are used as refrigerants, cleaning solvents, and aerosol propellants and in the manufacture of plastic foams, are believed to be a major cause of stratospheric ozone depletion. Chlorofluorocarbon damages the protective ozone layer and is a potent greenhouse gas emission
How it’s produced?
A group of gases that contain fluorine, including hydro-fluorocarbons, per-fluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride, among other chemicals that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes and commercial and household uses and do not occur naturally.
Average lifetime of CFCs: A few weeks – 1000years
Global warming potential: 10,200
Solutions to reduce CFCs:
- Use air-conditioners and refrigerators that do not use chlorofluorocarbon as refrigerant.
- Use aerosol products that do not use CFCs and HFCs
- Regular inspection and maintenance of air-conditioning and refrigeration appliances is needed to prevent and minimize refrigerant leakage.
- When servicing motor vehicle, and air-conditioners make sure that the refrigerants are properly recovered and recycled instead of being vented to the atmosphere.