The greenhouse effect is the name scientists have given to the way that gases in the atmosphere absorb or “trap” heat. The Earth has just the right amount of gases to keep the planet warm enough for life without getting too hot.
Venus has too many gases which means that the planet is much hotter than Earth. The temperature on Venus is over 800 degrees Fahrenheit! The average temperature on Earth is about 61 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mars has too few gases which means that the planet is much colder than Earth. The temperature on Mars is -67 degrees Fahrenheit. That is very cold.
The problem with the greenhouse effect is that the more gases that trap heat there are in the atmosphere, the hotter the planet. Earth has the right amount of gases in its atmosphere now, but people are getting worried because we are releasing more and more carbon dioxide into the air. This carbon dioxide absorbs the heat from the Sun and warms our planet.
A warmer Earth might be nice if you live somewhere very cold, like Alaska. However, it can also be dangerous or even deadly. A warmer Earth would mean that the polar ice caps would start to melt. We can actually see that they are starting to melt already.
The water that was trapped in the ice is now a part of the oceans. As the oceans fill up, they will get bigger. This means that islands and coastal areas will be under water. People who live in these places will need to find new homes.
A warmer Earth also means more intense weather. Big storms will get stronger. Hurricanes and tornadoes destroy homes and can even kill people.
In order to prevent Earth from heating up, scientists believe that we should cut down our emissions of carbon dioxide. That means cutting down on our use of cars, factories, and coal power plants. Individuals can help by turning off lights that aren’t being used, turning down the heat and air conditioning, driving less, and using renewable energy.