Is the greenhouse effect caused by people? © Siemens Stiftung 2020 CC BY-SA 4.0 international

Is the greenhouse effect caused by people?


Information module:
Without the natural greenhouse effect, there would be no life on earth. But the greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are reinforcing the effect in a way that is harmful.

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The aim is for students to recognize that life on earth as we know it would not be possible without the greenhouse effect. Three scenarios are presented for this: the earth without the greenhouse, the natural greenhouse effect and the anthropogenically enhanced greenhouse effect. The module shows how the complete lack of a greenhouse effect would affect the earth, how the natural greenhouse effect works and why there is an additional, undesired anthropogenically enhanced greenhouse effect. In the case of the anthropogenically enhanced greenhouse effect, an animation shows where the rise in greenhouse gases comes from and how this affects the average temperature on the earth's surface through increased counter-radiation. For the individual greenhouse gases, information can be accessed interactively on the wavelength range within which the thermal radiation is scattered back to the earth.

Information and ideas:
For the direct reflection of the incoming radiation, an albedo (reflection capacity of diffusely reflecting surfaces such as ice and snow) of approx. 0.30 is assumed with and without atmosphere, since the earth is not an ideal black-body radiator.
The anthropogenically enhanced greenhouse effect and changes in solar activity are the main causes of climate change! Scientists have agreed that both effects influence the earth's climate. What has not yet finally been determined is the percentage effect of each factor on the changes in the climate of the earth. In terms of specialist teaching, this subject involves some complex physics. One of the most difficult questions is the matter of radiation balance: Why does it get warm on earth although almost 100% of the earth's energy is radiated away?
Biology; Chemistry; Geography; Physics
Grade 5 to 6; Grade 7 to 9; Grade 10 to 13
Middle/high school; Vocational training
Climate change; Ecology; Emission (environment); Environment (general); Greenhouse effect; Pollution of the environment
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© Siemens Stiftung 2020
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