You are on page 1of 18

How Humans Are Enhancing the

Greenhouse Effect and Its Effect
on Human Health

What is The Greenhouse Effect?
According to Merriam-Webster the definition of greenhouse effect is:

warming of the surface and lower atmosphere of a planet (such as Earth
or Venus) that is caused by conversion of solar radiation into heat in a
process involving selective transmission of short wave solar radiation by the
atmosphere, its absorption by the planet's surface, and reradiation as
infrared which is absorbed and partly reradiated back to the surface by
atmospheric gases

Now in plain English…

Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and
ozone, trap heat in the atmosphere so they can help moderate global
temperatures. Greenhouse gases are the central component of the
atmosphere that help keep our planet warm. The warming of the
atmosphere by these gases is called the greenhouse effect.
What happens when the sun’s radiation travels through the atmosphere and hits the Earth?

6% is scattered by the atmosphere
26% of the sun’s energy is
reflected by the atmosphere
and the clouds back into
space 20% is reflected by the

The remaining 55% hits
19% of the energy is the Earth
absorbed by the
atmosphere and clouds 4% is reflected back into

50% is absorbed by
Earth’s surface.
Sketch done by yours truly, inspired by Abhishake Sharma
The sun’s energy is absorbed by
both the atmosphere and the Short-wavelength
Earth’s surface which is what keeps Solar Radiation
our planet warm. Some of the heat
absorbed is released in the form of
infrared radiations that are sent Long-
back to space but majority of the wavelength
heat is absorbed by the greenhouse Earth Radiation
gases in the atmosphere. The
greenhouse gases radiate heat
both into space and back to the
Earth’s surface. The heat that is sent
back to Earth is what warms up the Atmosphere
planet and causes melting of ice Boundary
caps, glaciers, and snow on Earth.
Sketch done by yours truly, inspired by Abhishake Sharma
How Humans Are Enhancing the
Greenhouse Effect
The greenhouse effect is a natural process that keeps Earth livable. Human
activities such as burning fossil fuels, emissions, deforestation, and agriculture are
increasing the amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere. The
addition greenhouse gases trap more heat in the atmosphere which is the
leading cause of global warming. A few effects of global warming include:
changes in global rainfall, ocean circulation, extreme weather events, and
increase sea level due to melting ice caps and glaciers.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency:
• In the U.S greenhouse gases caused by human activity increases by 7% from
1990-2014. Carbon Dioxide is accountable for most the increase.
• World wide increase of greenhouse gases from human activity increased by
35% from 1990-2010.
• The majority of the world’s emissions are from electricity and transportation.
• Most of human activities that effect greenhouse gases, such as carbon
dioxide, have significantly increased since The Industrial Revolution.
• The total warming effect from greenhouse gasses influenced by humans
increased by 37%.
This table shows greenhouse gases such as
carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and
other fluorinated gases and how they are
produced. The table also shows 100-year
global warming potentials describing the
effects that occur over a period of time after
a particular mass of gas is emitted.

* Carbon dioxide’s lifetime cannot be represented with a single
value because the gas is not destroyed over time, but instead
moves among different parts of the ocean–atmosphere–land
system. Some of the excess carbon dioxide is absorbed quickly
(for example, by the ocean surface), but some will remain in the
atmosphere for thousands of years, due in part to the very slow
process by which carbon is transferred to ocean sediments.

** The lifetimes shown for methane and nitrous oxide are
perturbation lifetimes, which have been used to calculate the
global warming potentials shown here.

3 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 2013. Climate change
2013: The physical science basis. Working Group I contribution to the IPCC
Fifth Assessment Report. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University
Indicators in the U.S

U.S Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In this graph, there are emissions of
carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous
oxide, and several fluorinated gases in
the U.S from 1990 – 2014. To keep
things consistent, emissions are
expressed in million metric tons of
carbon dioxide equivalents.

As you can see, there is more
carbon dioxide than any other
greenhouse gas in the
Indicators in the U.S

U.S Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Sinks by
Economic Sector

In this graph, there are greenhouse gas
emissions and sinks by source in the U.S
from 1990 – 2014.
All electric power emissions are grouped
together in the “Electricity generation”
sector. “Residential and “Commercial”
are non-electric sources, such as burning
oil or gas. To keep things consistent,
emissions are expressed in million metric
tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.
Indicators Worldwide

Global Greenhouse Gas Emission by Gas

This graph shows emissions of carbon
dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and
other fluorinated gases worldwide from
1990 – 2010. The graph includes
emissions and sinks due to land-use
change and forestry. To keep things
consistent, emissions are expressed in
million metric tons of carbon dioxide

Again, the graph shows more
carbon dioxide than any other
Indicators Worldwide

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions
by Sector

In this graph, there are worldwide
greenhouse gas emissions by
sector from 1990 – 2010. The totals
include emissions and sinks due to
land-use change and forestry. To
keep things consistent, emissions
are expressed in million metric
tons of carbon dioxide
The Effects on Human Health
The greenhouse effect, also known as global warming, causes
dangerous changes to the earth’s natural resources such as the
ocean, fresh water, agriculture, extreme weather changes, and
adds more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causing a decrease
in air quality– it is no wonder the effects eventually reach humans
and cause deadly illnesses. When natural resources are effected, so
is agriculture, water supplies, energy production and use, land use
and development, and recreation.

A few key factors to watch for:
• Extreme Heat: High temperatures will contribute to death
from cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
• Natural disasters and variable rainfall patterns: since the
number of natural disasters has gone up, so has the
number of deaths that result from them.
• Patterns of infection: the increase in warm weather will
lengthen the transmission season of diseases.
Indicators that Human Health is at Risk
• Since 1979, more than 9,000 Americans died as a result of heat-related illnesses such
as a heat stroke.
• From 2001-2010, about 28,000 heat-related hospitalizations were recorded across 20
• People age 65 and up accounted for more heat-related hospitalizations than other
• The national rate of reported cases of Lyme disease has doubled since 1991.
• Warmer temperatures and later frosts prolong the allergy season for millions of
• Causes a huge threat to respiratory health by directly causing or increasing pre-
existing respiratory diseases.
• Air pollution causes asthma.
• Increased temperatures lead to increased ground-level ozone which causes airway
inflammation and damages lung tissue.
• Between 1995 – 2011 warmer temps have caused the U.S pollen season to increase
from 11 – 27 days longer.
The Evidence is Clear. The Science is Clear.
The greenhouse effect is an environmental issue and threat to human health.

This graph shows how
greenhouse effects such as
rising temperatures, more
extreme weather, rising sea
levels, and increase carbon
dioxide levels will effect air
pollution, vector-borne
diseases, allergens, water
quality, water and food
supply, environmental
deterioration, extreme heat
and severe weather – all of
these are a seriously
dangerous threat to our
Everyone Will be Effected

The greenhouse effect, global warming,
climate change – whatever you choose to
call it, it is effecting you.

• Hunger will increase as food production is
destabilized by drought.

• Pollution and pollen seasons will increase,
leading to more allergies and asthma.

• Warmer waters and flooding will increase
exposures to diseases.

• Drought, floods, and heat waves will increase.

• Vector-borne diseases, like malaria will
Everyone is at Risk

• Those living in poverty, women, children
and the elderly are at risk.

• Outdoor workers and people living with
chronic medical conditions are at risk.

• Children are most vulnerable due to long
exposure to environmental risks.

• Those living in megacities, small islands,
coastal states, mountainous and polar
regions are at risk.

• Countries with weak health systems will
be least able to prepare and respond to
the effects caused by the warming of
… Long story short – everyone is at risk!

The evidence is raw and real; the statistics do not lie; the risks are seriously dangerous.
Humans are enhancing the greenhouse effect faster than ever before. The increase of
greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere is causing unfixable changes to natural
resources that humans use to survive. It is an endless and unforgiving cycle that we will
have to live with for generations to come. Honestly, after doing all this research I know for
a fact that global warming is real but I do not think it is in human nature to stop the
amount of fossil fuels we are currently burning. We are creatures of big brain and rapid
thought, humans are constantly inventing new ways to make our lives easier, which is
great but will leave consequences that we will not be able to fix. The increase of deaths
caused by the greenhouse effect has risen to about 150,000 not including the related 5
million illnesses per year. Those numbers are only what is reported, I assume there are
more that are not reported as being related to global warming effects.

I know first hand how these consequences are effecting the Earth. Being from Alaska and
seeing glaciers that were once massive are now significantly smaller. The summers are
wonderfully longer and warmer. Snow fall has decreased to close to nothing and animals
are going extinct all over the northern hemisphere. It is heartbreaking to know that my
beautiful home state is being effected tremendously by global warming.
Here is an example of an
Alaskan Glacier that has
melted away. I thought this
photo was perfect for the
ending message I would like to
leave. I grew up seeing images
like this and although I loved
the warmer weather there is a
harsh truth behind climate
change. Simply google
“glaciers melting” and you will
find hundreds of images
proving this is a real problem,
not a made up phenomenon.