Effect of the Greenhouse

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Geography ・APA ・2 Sources

The greenhouse effect results from the sun's radiation being trapped in the Earth's atmosphere, preventing it from escaping and resulting in high temperatures. According to Hess and Tasa (2016), "several gases in the atmosphere, main greenhouse gas, readily transmit incoming shortwave radiation from the sun but not outward long wave terrestrial radiation." According to the National Resources Defense Council, the greenhouse effect has caused the average global temperature to rise at the fastest rate ever recorded in the last 50 years (MacMillan, 2016). This research examines a news article about Hurricane Harvey, which struck the United States between August 17 and September 3, 2017. The relationship between Hurricane Harvey and the greenhouse effect is that the latter hurt the former. Global temperature surge has had a direct impact on the frequency and intensity of hurricanes. In the past month, two category four and two category five hurricanes have been witnessed leaving huge destruction. Hurricane Harvey is the most ferocious rainstorm ever to be recorded in the continental United States.

The greenhouse effect has different impacts on the atmosphere as evidenced by Hurricane Harvey on the Texas Coast. A recent news article published by the New York Times on September 18, 2017 links the devastating consequences of the hurricane to the greenhouse effect. According to the article, “because of atmospheric emissions from human activity, the ocean waters from which Harvey drew its final burst of strength were much warmer than they ought to have been, most likely contributing to the intensity of the deluge” (Gillis, 2017). Even though climate change and greenhouse effect do not cause hurricanes, the warmer atmosphere, as a result, intensifies the size and destructive of hurricanes. It is in line with Professor Webster’s findings of a rise in category four and five hurricanes since 1970 and that the abnormally warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico intensified Hurricane Harvey (Leavenworth, 2017). Hurricane Irma became the strongest hurricane to be observed in the Atlantic after Hurricane Wilma in 2005 further supporting the hypothesis that greenhouse effect is causing a surge in the intensity of hurricanes. The concerns in the article on the greenhouse effect and the intensity of hurricanes are well-founded, since it is evident that a relation exists between warmer global temperatures and hurricane strength.

The article reviews warning by scientists on the effect of greenhouse gases, the stalled efforts in Washington on global warming, and the uncertainties of global temperature in the coming years due to the climate change. The disconcerted efforts by politicians and other stakeholders on the crisis are worrying and pulling out of the Paris accord is a clear articulation of the unwillingness to reduce the effects of global emissions. The article provides information on the collapse of the Arctic’s sea ice, huge forest dying-outs, and heat waves of about 48 degrees Celsius as well as rising sea level as examples of greenhouse effects. These examples show the unintended effects of greenhouse emissions and point on the need to make concerted effort to reduce the negative impacts. The effects are not confined in specific places and have widespread global unintended repercussions.

The role of behavior on the uncertainties in the pollution levels that will spur further global warming is also discussed in the article. Human behavior contributes largely to the high global temperatures, and of more concern is the lack of support both at a personal and social level to efforts to minimize global pollution. Pulling out of the Paris accord will weaken the efforts aimed at mitigating the greenhouse gases emissions and gives countries the leeway to continue at current pollution levels. The efforts presented in the Paris agreement could reduce the rate of global warming by minimizing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. However, the lack of binding enforcement mechanism for the accord negatively affects its effectiveness in achieving reduced greenhouse gas emissions in different countries, and the targets are only promises, not firm commitments. There is a need for the development of a global agreement that is binding and legally unenforceable, if the levels of greenhouse emissions are to be reduced considerably.

The article ends by calling on individuals to act towards sustainable living and reduce the levels of pollution spewed. The efforts to raise concern for people to join efforts aimed at reducing global warming are unsuccessful. Gillis (2017) asks, “is this failure to act the legacy our generation wants to leave for the generations yet to come?” The need for reduced pollution levels is evident not only in the article, but happenings around the world, especially with the increased intensity of hurricanes, storms, and global temperatures. There is immense responsibility on the current generation to make concerted efforts if the greenhouse effect is to be reduced.

The greenhouse effect has detrimental effects, and if current events are to go by, the intensity of hurricanes will increase with time. There will be more destruction and deaths from these disasters, and with rising sea levels, the impacts will be more widespread and catastrophic. The link between greenhouse effect and intensity of hurricanes exists, and climate change efforts should be worldwide to achieve better coordinated and effective responses to global warming questions. Climate change must be a global agenda for the benefit of future generations.


Gillis, J. (September 18, 2017). The real unknown of climate change: Our behavior. The New York Times. Retrieved on September 26, 2017 from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/climate/climate-change-denial.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FGreenhouse%20Gas%20Emissions

Hess, D. & Tasa, D. (2016). Physical geography. Pearson.

Leavenworth, S. (September 6, 2017).Hurricanes Irma, Harvey restart debate on climate change and warmer oceans. Miami Herald. Retrieved on September 26, 2017 from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/article171632462.html

MacMillan, A. (March 11, 2016). Global warming. Natural Resources Defense Council. Retrieved on September 26, 2017 from https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101

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