The importance of the greenhouse effect was just conceived in the mid-twentieth century. "For billions of years, cosmic forces shaped Earth, and land and air coevolved at an almost inconceivably slow pace to create a climate in which human beings and other creatures could flourish." (Franscesca Lyman). Now, for the first time, humanity has the power to change the global climate. By releasing the huge amounts of carbon stored in fossil fuels over millions of years, we are distorting the natural carbon cycle. We are intensifying the natural greenhouse effect and turning it into a "planetary menace" when it actually makes human life possible. Thus, the German climatologist Wilfred Bach writes, "The carbon-dioxide problem becomes a central question for the co-existence of humans and the survival of mankind." If we do not deal with our problems now, such as global warming, the consequences will amplify and the consequences could mean our health, our life, our future.
Could we, as humans, mend what we have destroyed? From the words of J.Stephen Bottum, "Constructive action begins with an understanding of what's causing the problem and what each of us can do about it."The greenhouse effect has been described by Vice President Al Gore as the potentially most dangerous environmental problem facing mankind, with consequences second only to nuclear war (The Greenhouse Trap). The greenhouse effect can be visualized as follows: Imagine the Earth has been encircled by a giant glass sphere. The heat penetrates through the glass. Some of the heat is absorbed by the Earth and some is radiated back towards space. The radiated heat reaches the glass sphere and is prevented from dispersing any further. Similarly, the Earth is surrounded by a blanket of gas which traps energy in the atmosphere. This results in the overall warming of the atmosphere.