What Is the Major Cause of Global Warming?

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The major cause of global warming is a thick layer of gases, including methane and carbon dioxide, that trap heat and energy near the earth. Find out how methane is produced by common things decaying on the earth with information from a math and science teacher in this free video on global warming.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones, and I'm going to talk about the major cause of global warming. Well, let's first of all understand the diagram here. We have the earth here and there's the earth's surface and we have this layer here, which is a layer of gases, like carbon dioxide and methane. CH4 is methane. And these gases have the effect of cushioning the earth. So, from the sun, we get this radiation. Radiation from the sun, and this can be of all kinds, but its tends to be high energy. And this is either absorbed in the atmosphere or it gets through to the surface of the earth, is absorbed, and is re-emitted. And this is, infrared radiation, which is emitted from the earth and low energy radiations. The problem we have, is that if this layer here of carbon dioxide, methane and other similar gases is very thick, then these radiations which come from the earth, cannot escape from the atmosphere. They are absorbed in these layers and the effect is, that the overall amount of energy coming in, is not reduced by the amount of energy going out so energy cannot escape from the earth. So what happens is, overall the planet will get warmer. Good example of this is Venus. Venus, the planet Venus, is actually hotter than it should be. It has a very dense layer of methane in its atmosphere which clouds the planet and retains the heat within it. Methane, is in fact, one of the worse of the greenhouse gases. It is a common gas produced by things decaying on earth and it sits up there in the atmosphere. If you burn methane to create carbon dioxide, that is actually an improvement. So, this is basically the cause of global warming, the heating of the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect and the worse of the gases is methane.


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