The Greenhouse Effect
Greenhouse gases regulate our climate by trapping heat from the sun and holding it in a kind of warm air blanket that surrounds the earth. The natural greenhouse effect keeps the Earth's climate warm and habitable. Without it out planet would be way too cold to sustain our ecosystem.
About 80-90% of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect is due to water vapour, a strong greenhouse gas. The remainder is due to carbon dioxide, methane, and a few other minor gases.
There is also the "man-made" greenhouse effect, which is the enhancement of Earth's natural greenhouse effect by the addition of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels (mainly petroleum, coal, and natural gas).
Human activities distort and accelerate the natural process by creating more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. An increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases leads to an increase in the magnitude of the greenhouse effect. This is referred to as the enhanced greenhouse effect.
It is the carbon dioxide concentration that is increasing, due to the burning of fossil fuels
(as well as from some rain forest burning). This is the man-made portion of the greenhouse
effect, and it is believed by many scientists to be responsible for the global warming of the last