University of Illinois Extension

Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect


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Did you know the greenhouse effect is a natural occurrence on earth? Without it, the earth would be too cold for humans to survive. Here’s how it happens:

Sunlight is energy. When this energy reaches the earth’s surface, the sunlight is changed into heat energy. The heat tries to escape back out into space, but some of it is absorbed and sent back to Earth by clouds and certain gases like carbon dioxide (what we exhale), methane (swamp gas), and water vapor. These are called greenhouse gases.


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