Babble Buster: what are Greenhouse Gases?

Greenhouse gases are spoken about so much in discussions around global warming, climate change and sustainability. We know they’re problematic and that it’s important to reduce the amounts of these gases being released into the atmosphere.

But what exactly are greenhouse gases? Is this the same thing as pollution? Let’s find out.

Let’s define it together

The Oxford dictionary defines them as “gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation”.

Infrared radiation is a type of electromagnetic radiation not visible to the human eye – it is the scientific term for what we feel as heat.

Greenhouse gases (also referred to as GHGs) are gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. They work exactly like greenhouses (hence the name) as they allow sunlight to pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the accompanying heat from leaving the atmosphere.

Think of them as a big, warm blanket that encases the Earth, keeping the heat in.

What gases are GHGs?

The problems arise when we factor in that humans are contributing more of them on a massive scale.

There are many different kinds of GHGs, but these are the main ones:

  • Water vapour
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Methane
  • Ozone
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (non-toxic, non-flammable chemicals containing carbon, chlorine, and fluorine; like aerosols and refrigerants)

These gases wouldn’t necessarily be a problem for our planet, as they are naturally present in our atmosphere anyways – it’s the Anthropogenic GHGs (meaning originating from humans) that contribute drastically to global warming. Yep – even water vapour!

Reducing these GHGs is something we all need to think about, and it can be as simple taking small steps to reduce your energy consumption.

You can make small changes, such as swapping your current bulbs out for LED and buying energy saving products like our dryer eggs. Or you can make big changes like making sure when you buy a new appliance it’s energy efficient.

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