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GREENHOUSE EFFECT The glass windows of a greenhouse let in sunlight The sunlight warms up objects inside the greenhouse These objects then give off heat The glass of the greenhouse however does not let out the heat If the greenhouse lacks ventilation all the heat stays locked inside and the temperature rises This greenhouse effect also causes the inside of an automobile to become hot if its windows remain closed on a sunny day The Earth and its atmosphere are like a giant greenhouse Like the glass windows of a greenhouse the atmosphere is nearly transparent to shortwave and visible solar radiation Part of the energy absorbed by the Earth is radiated to the atmosphere as long-wave infrared radiation Because it contains carbon dioxide and water vapor which absorb much of the long-wave radiation before partially reradiating it back to the surface the atmosphere is not completely transparent to this long-wave radiation This causes the Earth and its atmosphere to warm up Variations in the amounts of carbon dioxide and water vapor in the air can therefore have a significant effect on how much heat is retained by the atmosphere The total amount of carbon dioxide present in the Earths atmosphere remained nearly constant until the 20th century when the burning of fossil fuels such as coal fuel oil gasoline and natural gas began to release large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere The combustion of fossil fuels brought about an ever-increasing rise in the carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere Some scientists believe that as the greenhouse effect is intensified long-term climatic changes on the Earth will result According to some predictions significant alterations in climate patterns could become apparent by the end of the 20th century Estimates of global average temperatures have projected an increase of as much as 9F 5C before the year 2100 Such
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