Climate and Greenhouse Gases
Over millions of years , earth ’ s climate has changed , both warming up and cooling down . Changes in climate impact the food ecosystem . Weather is a specific event , like a snowstorm or hot day , that happens over a few hours , days , or weeks . Climate is the average weather of a given location over a period of time , generally 30 years . Climate is the big picture .
The earth is heated by the sun . Greenhouse gases trap the sun ’ s heat in the atmosphere . This is called the greenhouse effect . Trapping some heat is a good thing . It makes the earth a comfortable place to live and allows animal and plant agriculture to exist . Human activities are causing more greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere , changing earth ’ s natural greenhouse effect . Too many greenhouse gases traps more and more heat , causing the earth to warm up .
Nearly all human activity contributes to releasing greenhouse gases . The U . S . Environmental Protection Agency , or EPA , tracks greenhouse gas emissions to measure the amount of these gases produced annually . The data and chart below represent the total U . S . greenhouse gas emissions by sector in 2019 . Using this information , can you fill in the chart labels ?
Transportation • 29 % – Burning fossil fuel for our cars , trucks , ships , and planes
Electricity • 25 % – Most of our electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels , much of which is coal and natural gas
Industry • 23 % – Burning of fossil fuels for energy and certain chemical reactions necessary to produce the goods from raw materials
Commercial and Residential • 13 % – Burning fossil fuels to heat homes and businesses , using products that contain greenhouse gases , and the handling of waste
Agriculture • 10 % – Emissions from crop and livestock production for food
What are the Greenhouse Gases ?
The main greenhouse gases and their molecular structures are diagrammed below . Can you label each of the atoms that make up the different molecules of gases ? Use the example to help get you started .
WATER VAPOR – H2O
CARBON DIOXIDE – CO2
OZONE - O3
NITRUS OXIDE - N2O
METHANE - CH4
CHLOROFLUOROCARBONS - CFCs ( 1 C ; 3 Cl ; 1 F )
1 . Industry • 23 %
2 - Colorado Agriculture in the Classroom Sources : EPA . gov and ClimateKids . NASA . gov