Dramatic effect of gas pollution on the environment.

Essay by axm149College, UndergraduateA+, November 2002

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Our planet can be considered globally as a living organism in which each single part interacts with the others in an extremely delicate way. Human activities, which often alter this equilibrium, lead to a homeostatic reaction that tends to re-establish the loss (or missing) equilibrium by eliminating all the perturbant elements. Actually, Earth's atmosphere has never been unchangeable: its composition, temperature and auto-depuration ability have continuously fluctuated since the planet's formation. Nevertheless, the speed of such changes has increased, particularly in the last two centuries: the atmosphere's composition has mutated much faster than in any other period of human history. This has created a huge degenerative environmental problem that has preoccupied scientists for decades, since it concerns the entire biosphere. This climatic change, potentially caused by an ever-increasing hole in the ozone layer, is known as the greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect is caused by certain gases present in the atmospheric compound that absorb infrared radiation and are emitted by sun-heated surfaces of the Earth and redirected downward.

One of the gases most responsible for this phenomenon is carbon dioxide, "released to the atmosphere when solid waste, fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), and wood and wood products are burned" (1). Although many other gases present in the atmosphere in inferior amounts also contribute, including: methane, nitrogen oxide, ozone and several chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs: compounds that contain chlorine, fluorine, carbon and rarely hydrogen). In addition, these chemical compounds (also known as Freons) yield to another atmospheric phenomenon called the hole in the ozone layer. CFCs, in particular, were produced in large amounts during the 1920's and, since then, have been utilized as refrigerant for freezer alimentation and air conditioning devices. These inert gases do not degrade easily within the...