Science Top Stories

Carbon Dioxide’s Out-sized Effect on the Planet

People are often confused about how Carbon Dioxide is capable of affecting our planet’s climate when it is found in such a small concentration in the earth’s atmosphere? It has a presence of 0.041% in the earth’s atmosphere. Another question is that if human activities contribute to 32% of the total CO2 emission, then why there is so much fuss around it?

There is a strong reason behind the fact that why CO2 has a strong influence on our atmosphere. It can absorb the gas from the planet’s surface. Due to this, the heat can’t escape to space. The scientists such as Eunice Foote from the United States and John Tyndall from England were some of the scientists who proved that methane, Carbon Dioxide and water vapour are the gases capable of absorbing all heat. Others gases found in abundant can’t do so.

According to research, if you look at the amount of sunlight that reaches the earth’s surface, the planet has become warmer than usual. Oxygen and Nitrogen, which cover 99% of the atmosphere do not influence the planet’s climate. It’s because they don’t absorb heat. Rather than these, the gases which are found in small concentration have a more significant role in keeping the earth warm. They are the main reason behind the ‘Natural Greenhouse Effect.’

The sun’s rays that reach our planet’s surface are of shortwave radiation form such as visible and ultraviolet wavelengths. Since the earth is more refreshing, it emits heat in infrared form. The molecular structure of CO2 is such that it allows them to absorb heat. It can correspond to the infrared radiation again and again.

The earth receives sun’s heat regularly and in turn radiates it back to the planet. The temperature of the earth needs to be constant. Therefore earth’s heat must escape to space, and the surface remains cool.


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