Top 5 List of Greenhouse Gases – Updated Article With Extra Information on the Major Greenhouse Gases.
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1. Water Vapor
You would never think it, but water vapor tops the list of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The earth continuously produces water vapor, which evaporates and then goes up to the atmosphere. Clouds, fog, and haze are all part of water vapor, with steam being the main fossil fuel combustion byproduct. Steam from water comprises up to 70 percent of the total greenhouse effect. Even worse is the vicious cycle of the warming effect currently happening, because higher temperatures actually create more water vapor, which then causes temperatures to rise yet again, and so on. So, instead of focusing just on your carbon footprint, you should also be thinking about your steam footprint!
2. Carbon Dioxide
This greenhouse gas is another one of the major greenhouse gases, but it is the second most prevalent in the atmosphere after water vapor. It is released when power plants process fossil fuels, and also from the breathing of humans and animals, and others. Although carbon dioxide is often considered the worst greenhouse gas, it is not actually true. However, since there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than any other greenhouse gases emitted by humans (only topped by water vapor), it does have the most obvious impact.
Methane is the next on our top 5 list of greenhouse gases. This gas is probably the most damaging of all. When it comes to global warming, methane is 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Methane is often trapped inside the earth and it is released by mining. It can also be released by animals such as cows because of flatulence. Other sources of methane also exist.
4. Nitrous Oxide
Another one of the major greenhouse gases is nitrous oxide. It is not usually used in combustion processes of fossil fuels or fossil fuel power plants. Instead, you can find nitrous oxide in medical locations or dental offices, and it is commonly referred to as “laughing gas”. However, it is not so funny when you realize how damaging this gas is to the earth and the environment.
This greenhouse gas comes with a double threat. Firstly, ozone stays near the ground, which results in air pollution, smog, and lung problems for the inhabitants. Then it evaporates into a greenhouse gas, and traps heat near the earth, which contributes to global warming.
Although we presented you with a top 5 list of greenhouse gases, there is a new damaging greenhouse gas that has been discovered called Sulfuryl Fluoride. It was first used as a fumigant to kill termites. This chemical can last for up to 40 years and traps significant amounts more heat than CO2.
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