To study this very serious pollution problem we’ve got with our own waste gases, and to help various national jurisdictions on this single planet’s surface to come together on not over-heating our only planet, we have formed, from the best of our Scientists from all over this world, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The FIFTH IPCC report is about to break: here, an educational article about how the IPCC works, and what this latest report has in it.
To bring home that the Science is real and we are imperilling safe living on this planet, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has published a primer: “What we Know: The Reality, Risks and Response to Climate Change”
Although water vapour is the greatest volume greenhouse gas, by far the most bountiful of the gases produced by human activities is Carbon Dioxide, followed by Methane. These absorb radiant energy at wavelengths that water vapour doesn’t. Right now our planet’s surface temperature (including atmospheric and ocean temperature) is rising. This will have many ramifications, not the least of which will likely be methane gas released from the melting gas hydrates now trapped in permafrost. (“Even the permafrost reservoir is on the order of hundreds of gigatons, not much smaller than the total amount of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere”.)
Methane has a much higher greenhouse effect than Carbon Dioxide per molecule, about 25 times as much. Higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns will affect plants, upon which we rely for food. These are vast changes we have initiated, mostly by being the number of us that we are, burning fossil fuels as much as we do. We might call it Climate Change, but actually, it’s Planet Change, and we’re doing it!
Atmospherically, the palette of change contains the absorption spectra of various gases. These are some common gases, their absorption bands and windows. CO2 fills in an important heat-releasing window in the atmosphere, tipping the balance.