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The earth absorbs solar energy and then emits part of these energy as radiation of a longer wavelength, which is absorbed by some of the gases in the atmosphere. These gases also emit radiation, which results in the increase of the temperature of the space below.
Water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and ozone are the major natural greenhouse gases. The effect of the various greenhouse gases is not additive, with the cumulative effect resulting in temperature rise. Chlorofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, nitrous oxide and sulfur hexafluoride are the other greenhouse gases. The atmosphere consists mainly of Nitrogen and Oxygen, but these gases do not absorb or emit radiation due to their molecular structure.
Studies have shown that the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has increased significantly in the last two centuries due to human activity. Some of the main sources of emission of greenhouse gases are:
1. Burning of fossil fuel for transportation and industrial applications
2. Plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, but deforestation has increased the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.
3. Livestock farming and septic tanks increase the emission of methane.
4. CFC (Chlorofluorocarbons), halons are used for refrigeration and fire suppression systems.
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