Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
GLOBAL WARMING IS a term that is used to refer to an increase in Earths average surface temperature. It is due mostly to the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere by human-fuelled activities such as increased fossil fuel consumption leading to the release of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ), the increasing use of automobiles, the use of nitrogen base fertilizers, and rearing and breeding large methane-belching cattle. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, water vapor, halocarbons (chlorofluo-rocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons), methane, and ozone have the capability of absorbing infrared radiation from the Earths surface, thereby altering the heat balance of the Earth. The gases later warm the Earth s surface by emitting trapped energy. When GHGs absorb radiation, the stratosphere becomes warm and then re-emits infrared radiation back to the Earths surface. This warming of the Earth's troposphere is commonly known as the greenhouse effect. Global warming ...