Greenhouse Gases

A funny name, especially since the concept really has nothing to do with
green houses or gas! The name does relate, though, to the warm glass houses in which we grow plants. These buildings are called greenhouses because they are filled with green plants.

Let’s take a look at how they work. Did you ever notice how a car heats up when it’s left in the sun with the windows up? Have you wondered how a glass building used to grow plants stays so warm inside? The key to both of these is known as the Greenhouse Effect.

As you know, glass lets light pass through pretty freely. That’s why we use it for windows—so we can see out and let the sun shine in. Once light energy passes through the glass and bounces around inside, it loses energy and becomes heat. Heat does not pass through glass as easily as light does; therefore, it gets trapped, builds up rapidly, and the space gets hot. Scientists are concerned this greenhouse effect is happening to our planet.

Using gasoline to fuel our cars and burning gas, coal, oil and other materials to make our homes comfortable releases greenhouse gases. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor. As the gases build up in our atmosphere, more heat is trapped and the earth’s temperature gradually rises. Using less energy is one way we can all help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.