Michael Knutson (11040656)
22 September 2010
Environmental Science Section
As far back as human records indicate, Earth’s climate has been changing over time.
These fluctuations have been rather modest for the most part with periods of intense change
every couple thousand years. Recently however, there has been an abrupt, and rapid increase in
the warming of our atmosphere, at rates our planet has never seen before. In fact, of the twelve
years between 1995 and 2006, eleven of them rank among the warmest recorded years since
1850 (IPCC Climate Change 2007, p. 8). The effects of global warming are just beginning to
surface the media’s cesspool, though they’ve been in plain site for the last couple hundred years.
Glaciers and ice sheets have been melting at alarming rates, causing increase sea levels, and
endangerment to terrestrial biological systems that inhabit these environments.
Most of the evidence as to why our earth has been warming at such alarming rates, points
to human intervention, specifically, enhancements in the greenhouse effect. Since the age of the
Industrial Revolution, humankind has been filling the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.
Greenhouse gases play a large role in regulating the temperature of our atmosphere because they
absorb infrared radiation and protect us from harmful ultra violet rays. It is suspected that
without these sorts of gasses in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to
inhabit (Beall at al. 2010, p. 9). However, when too much greenhouse gas is released into our
atmospheric shield, excess gas is trapped. But what’s so bad about having excess amounts of
green house gases in our atmosphere? When the sun’s visible rays reflect off the earth, they are
reemitted in the form of infrared light. Usually, this infrared radiation is just transmitted off into
space. Greenhouse gases act as a sort of sponge that absorbs and traps the infrared radiation and
traps it in our atmosphere, leaving our earth at the mercy of it’s heating powers (Beall, 2010).
Some common greenhouse gasses include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and