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Greenhouse gases and global warming
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour and nitrous oxide. These are all naturally occurring gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, but are also by-products of industrial processes. CFCs are another form of greenhouse gas, but are produced solely in industrial processes and do not occur naturally.

Greenhouse gases cause the Earth to warm up because their particles cause radiation to act in a particular way. The gases allow radiation from the sun to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere without any problem. The Earth, in turn reflects back this radiation, but in so doing, the wavelength is changed.

Reflected radiation then meets particles of greenhouse gas on its way out again and is absorbed by the particle. This causes the particle to become agitated, and this warms up the greenhouse gas. This then gives rise to a warm blanket effect around the planet, thus raising the surface temperature.

These greenhouse gases absorb some of the Sun’s energy, warming the atmosphere near the surface just enough to support life. Some scientists believe that emissions of greenhouse gases are causing too much energy to be trapped and increasing the temperature too much.

Gasses like methane and CFCs are much more efficient at trapping energy than carbon dioxide, but as it makes up a greater part of the atmosphere, it is the main cause for concern. The combustion of fossil fuels is the major source of manufactured carbon emissions.

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