Greenhouse gases - we can't live without them

The Earth has a natural greenhouse effect—it has been around since the planet formed and has sustained life for many millions of years.

We have always had greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Without them the Earth would be too cold for us, or any other living thing, to survive.

Naturally-occurring greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, allow solar radiation to reach the Earth’s surface, while trapping radiation from the Earth on its way back out to space.

The trapped energy warms the Earth’s surface, making it about 35°C warmer than it would be if we didn’t have greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

There would be no life on Earth without the warmth provided by this natural greenhouse effect.

(Source: Climate change: the scientific basis for concern, MCV factsheet, 2008; PDF 1.3 MB) 

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