Human Activities are Intensifying the Earth’s Natural Greenhouse Effect — Maasch — Yale’s Climate Connection

Earth’s Greenhouse Effect

—  March 5, 2015




MAASCH: “If not for the greenhouse effect, life as we know it would not exist on this planet.”

That’s Kirk Maasch of the University of Maine. He explains that like any good home in a cold region, our planet has a heating system. It’s called the greenhouse effect, and it involves the trapping of the sun’s warmth by carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases in the atmosphere.

But by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, humans are adding billions of tons of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere — and effectively turning up the earth’s thermostat.

Our climate has warmed and cooled naturally many times in the past, but Maasch says this global warming is very different.

MAASCH: “Through long-term climate cycles, atmospheric carbon dioxide has gone up and down even more than what we’ve seen in the last century and a half, but what humans are doing right now is to increase the greenhouse gas content at a rate that has not occurred in millions of years. That’s different.”

Climate scientists at Stanford recently found that the earth is now warming ten times faster than it has during any period in the last 65-million years… and that’s putting the heat on societies and ecosystems worldwide.


Greenhouse Effect graphic

Reporting credits: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: An idealised model of the natural greenhouse effect (source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report