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What is the greenhouse effect?

Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapor, allow the Earth’s atmosphere to absorb and emit heat energy, making our Earth livable.  Without these gases, Earth would be too cold to inhabit.

Human productivity has greatly added to these greenhouse gases, trapping more heat in the Earth’s atmosphere than is being released.  Since the Industrial Revolution, people have burned vast amounts of coal, petroleum, and other fossil fuels in order to create heat and to power our producer and consumer-driven society.  These fossil fuels release enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  The World Meteorological Organization has found that carbon dioxide concentrations across the globe have risen by 35% since preindustrial times.