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3 Myths about greenhouse gases you need to stop believing right now – did humans really invent greenhouse gases?

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Posted January 4, 2019

Greenhouse gases are scary. Media is constantly bombarding us with information how our greenhouse gas emissions are killing the planet and how in our industrial era we pretty much ruined the atmosphere with our greenhouse gases. This is actually pretty much true, but greenhouses gases themselves are surrounded by many myths that people like repeating. Here’s three of them – drop them immediately.

Myth No. 1. Humans invented greenhouse gases

When people are talking about greenhouse gas emissions, it is easy to think that planet was free from them before the industrial revolution. However, greenhouse gases at normal concentrations are completely natural and harmless. In fact, our planet needs them and life on this Earth would be completely different if there was no greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In fact, scientists are estimating that the average temperature on Earth would be around -18 degrees Celsius. Greenhouse gases are a natural part of the atmosphere, which absorbs and emits thermal radiation, keeping temperatures on Earth more or less the same.

CO2 in your soda is actually greenhouse gas. Image credit: Spiff via Wikimedia

Humans have never been to Mars or Venus, but atmospheres of these planets are also rich with greenhouse gases. They are natural and needed. However, human activity increased their concentrations dramatically, which is what is causing those adverse effects regarding the climate.

Myth No. 2. Greenhouse gases are toxic and ugly

When people are talking about greenhouse gas emissions, they usually use pictures of huge chimneys spitting out black smoke. Or some factories completely covered in smog. Those are definitely important sources of greenhouse gas emissions. However, not all of them are so ugly and toxic.

How about the CO2 that we are breathing out? That is exactly what is bubbling in your soda. O3, better known as ozone, is also a greenhouse gas and its pollution is a huge problem of the aviation industry. Then there is nitrous oxide, methane and, of course, water vapour. Did you know that water vapour is a greenhouse gas? But well, it is.

Myth No. 3. Americans and Chinese are the biggest contributors to the world’s CO2 emissions

People love hating on big and powerful countries. But some statements are simply not true. Yes, China is a “leader” of CO2 emissions – it contributes almost a third of the world’s CO2 emissions. USA is second in this list and then there is India and Russia. However, all of these countries are very big and have huge populations. If you looked at CO2 emissions per capita, which actually makes more sense, Qatar takes the first place and behind it we would find Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Turkmenistan, Oman and then US. Kind of draws a different picture, doesn’t it?

 

If you don’t take anything from this article, at least try being more critical of the information you find on media. Some facts can be presented without the context, which creates a lot of myths.

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