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Greenhouse gases absorb and emit radiation in the atmosphere’s thermal infrared range. Without them the earth would have an average temperature of about minus 15° C (minus 5° F) and would be uninhabitable.

Human activities increase the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The most harmful greenhouse gases are:
• Carbon dioxide (CO2)
• Methane (CH4)
• Nitrous oxide (N2O)

Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Carbon dioxide is produced by the respiration of plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms. It is also generated by the combustion of fossil fuels. Plants process carbon dioxide via photosynthesis to produce sugar.

The oceans absorb about one-third of all man-made carbon emissions. However, this ability diminishes at higher water temperatures.

The concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide rose by about 35% since 1750.

Methane (CH4)
Methane is produced by a lot of activities like agriculture, forestry, industrial livestock farming, sewage treatment plants, landfills, etc. Methane is a relatively powerful greenhouse gas. In a period of 100 years, its effect is 21 times bigger than that of the same amount of carbon dioxide.

Methane concentration increased by 150% since 1750.

Nitrous oxide (N2O)
Commonly known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is produced mainly by livestock and fertilizers. Nitrous oxide is a very powerful greenhouse gas. In a period of 100 years, its effect is 298 times bigger than that of the same amount of carbon dioxide.

Nitrous oxide concentration increased by about 16% since 1750.

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