climate change

Decoding the Green House Gases effect, Global Warming & Climate Change

Decoding the Green House Gases effect, Global Warming & Climate Change

This is a bewildering array of information on the greenhouse gas effect, global warming, climate change and how it is the worst thing possible for the world. While we have a vague idea of how industries, cars etc are major causes of the greenhouse effect, the big question is, what IS the greenhouse gas effect, what causes it, why is it bad and how can it be stopped. In simple enough terms that a child may understand it!

Greenhouse Gas Effect

Since the late1800’s, industrialisation has led to production at an unprecedented scale, leading to economies today feeding on a frenzy of unprecedented consumerism. This has led to tons of fossil fuels being burned and greenhouse gases getting released into the atmosphere. 

Biplob the Bumblebee on Impact of climate in India

With globalisation, goods are produced and sold using a dizzying network of complex global supply chains, automated factories and delivery networks. Each leg contributes a fair dollop of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The longer the raw material / partially finished / completely finished product has to travel, bigger the greenhouse gases effect. 

Global warming affecting the growth of seaweed in UK

But what are Greenhouse gases?

This brings us to the question, what are these greenhouse gases that are so bad? Industrial production and other activities release gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (NO2), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) etc, which form a semi – permeable layer in the atmosphere. The heat of the sun then gets trapped between the earth’s surface and the layer formed by these gases. Since these gases have the impact of making the entire planet a huge greenhouse, they're called greenhouse gases!

Left with nowhere to go, this heat increases the temperature on the earth’s surface, causing global warming. Hence, global warming (GW) is a result of the greenhouse gas effect. Over time, this has led to longterm climate change, with longer, hotter and drier summers amongst other things.

Impact of Greenhouse gas effect 

For the last few decades, global temperatures are increasing at an alarming rate thanks to greenhouse gases causing global warming. Today, scientists believe this increase is virtually irreversible. Even the Paris Climate Accord has taken a target of reducing the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C by 2050 from current levels, not arrest or reverse it. This too is a gargantuan task.

Even if we completely bring human activity caused greenhouse gas emissions down to the pre – industrialisation levels, it will take several decades before the gases already released in the atmosphere are absorbed through carbon sinks!

This in turn is causing tumultuous changes to our climate as we know it. Simply put, increased temperatures are causing ice caps at the poles to melt, irreversibly, thus increasing the quantum of water in the oceans. The increased sea water, which covers over 70% of the earth’s surface has a wrecking effect on global climate trends. In the Indian sub – continent for instance, the increased temperatures and rising sea levels affect the timing and intensity of the monsoons. Essentially, global warming, which is caused by greenhouse gas effect, is causing Climate Change. And the news isn’t good.

Summers are longer and harsher, so are the winters. Rains lead to more floods when they come, and draughts when they play truant. Worse, the timing of seasons is brutally disrupted. The onset of every season is increasingly getting delayed with each passing year. Take winters for instance. Time was when the Northern belt of the country would start experiencing early winter chills by October. Today, this has moved onto late November. Amongst other changes, farmers aren’t able to plan crop sowing effectively which is impacting yields and prices.

Can we stop the Greenhouse gas effect?

There are several other impacts like migration patterns of birds, behaviour and presence of pollinating insects etc which aren’t overtly evident but have a deep impact on life as we know it. The dire truth is that climate change caused by global warming is here to stay. Our only hope in reversing this over the next century or so is if we mend our ways today and work on a war footing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. All else is irrelevant.   



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Meena Mehra

Meena Mehra

Explanation with different points s excellent

Pooja Nandi

Pooja Nandi

Really nice article Abhishek …..especially the point about the Pink sea fan……

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