The Science of Climate – Episode 3 – Greenhouse Gases

The Science of Climate – Episode 3 – Greenhouse Gases


(female)
Greenhouse gases trap heat
in our atmosphere. This trapped heat
can then cause Earth’s average temperature
to increase from 0 to 59 degrees
Fahrenheit. I wish it was 0 to 59 degrees
warmer in here. I just wish
it was Fahrenheit. What does that
even mean? Enough with the chattering. Those were my teeth. Why don’t you check
the thermostat? See if there’s
something wrong with it. Now imagine the earth. Surrounding the earth
is the earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere
helps control the climate. Dr. Mother Nature? Dr. Mother Nature,
where are you? (Dr. Mother Nature)
Autumn Ray, we need
your superpowers and your quick wit
to save lives. What is it,
Dr. Mother Nature? The planet is–
Greenhouse gases are– [static] I bet I know what it is.
The earth is too cold. Is that what it is? Well, you said
greenhouse gases. I remember you said from class
that greenhouse gases can affect the heat
of the planet. Oh, I know what I’ll do. I’ll release more greenhouse
gases into the environment and heat
this planet up pronto. [fingers snap] If I warm up
the ocean’s water, it might add more water vapor
to the atmosphere, and that’ll help because
water vapor is a greenhouse gas. No time for a sauna now. I need to get
to Hawaii posthaste. Oh! This is awesome. I’ve never seen
a volcano before. I’ll make sure
this volcano is active so it’ll produce
even more carbon dioxide. What if I remove some trees
and plants in the area? (Dr. Mother Nature)
What are you doing? I’m getting rid
of the forest. That way, carbon dioxide
can stay in the air. But why?
Because everything
was so cold. I thought you wanted me
to heat the planet by increasing the emissions
of greenhouse gases. Quite the contrary. I thought greenhouse gases
were essential to sustaining the life
of our planet. They are, and there have been
periods in earth’s history when additional
greenhouse gases were needed. Our lifetime is not
one of those time periods. But it was so cold. I thought I could heat
the planet. It doesn’t work
like that. Greenhouse gases
help to create a range of temperature
for the planet. But on that planet, different days, weeks,
and seasons can be both hot
and cold. What is important is that the
range of earth’s temperature is in a safe zone
to sustain life. And if I destroy
the forest? (Dr. Mother Nature)
Mass deforestation and the burning
of fossil fuels have been a huge contributor
to carbon dioxide, which is why the range of
earth’s temperature is rising. That’s not a good thing,
is it?
No. We need to decrease
that trend and reduce the emission
of greenhouse gases. Do you know
how to do that? Instead of burning trees, I can plant them
and other plants too. Very good, Autumn. This is so awesome. Hey, wait!
Where are you going? If I chill
this volcano down, it won’t release
as much CO2. We can also control
the earth’s temperature by reducing how much of the
sun’s energy makes it to earth. Clouds can block
some of the sun’s rays from reaching
the planet’s surface. Instead of releasing vapor
into the atmosphere, I can cool
the ocean’s temperature. That can help in two ways: It’ll reduce the greenhouse
gases being released, and it’ll cool
the earth’s temperature. Bonus: Cooler ocean water
can hold more carbon dioxide. So some in the atmosphere can now be held
by the ocean. Dr. Mother Nature,
why are we here? I’m not sure. This is your daydream,
Autumn. It might have something to do
with helping you understand that livestock release methane
into the atmosphere. There are a lot
of contributing factors to finding a balance
of greenhouse gases. Exactly.
It’s a complicated balance. Too many, and the planet
becomes too warm. And too few, and the planet
becomes too cold. That’s right. As I was saying,
the atmosphere can take a long time
to heal. Greenhouse gases remain
in the atmosphere for years at a time. Autumn, can you think
of a reason why this
might be important? Um…yeah. Greenhouse gases
are vital because, without them,
then the atmosphere wouldn’t be warm enough
to support life. But too much can make
temperatures warmer. It’s a delicate balance. And I think
I’m just going to leave the thermostat where it is and put on another layer. Accessibility provided by the
U.S. Department of Education.

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