What are greenhouse gases?

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases in Earth’s atmosphere that have the ability to trap heat from the sun and contribute to the greenhouse effect, which is the natural process that keeps the Earth’s temperature within a range suitable for life. While the greenhouse effect is essential for maintaining a habitable climate, human activities have led to an increase in the concentration of certain greenhouse gases, intensifying the greenhouse effect and contributing to global warming and climate change.

The primary greenhouse gases include:

  1. Carbon Dioxide (CO2): Carbon dioxide is the most well-known greenhouse gas and is a major contributor to human-caused climate change. It is released primarily through the burning of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas) for energy, deforestation, and various industrial processes.

  2. Methane (CH4): Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a much higher heat-trapping ability per molecule compared to carbon dioxide. It is emitted from sources such as livestock digestion, rice paddies, landfills, and natural gas production.

  3. Nitrous Oxide (N2O): Nitrous oxide is released from agricultural activities (such as the use of synthetic fertilizers), industrial processes, and fossil fuel combustion. It has a significant warming potential and contributes to both global warming and ozone depletion.

  4. Fluorinated Gases (F-Gases): This category includes a variety of synthetic gases used in various industrial applications, such as refrigeration, air conditioning, and electronics manufacturing. These gases have high global warming potentials and can remain in the atmosphere for long periods.