Runaway Greenhouse Effect

Greenhouse Effect is a phenomenon where the gasses in the earth’s atmosphere trap the sun’s heat. The earth’s natural Greenhouse Effect is extremely important for sustaining life on earth. It prevents the planet from freezing over and provides a comfortable temperature range for organisms to survive. Without this phenomenon, life would probably have not evolved at all.

However, human activities such as deforestation, industrialization, and globalization have accelerated this natural process up to the point where it can be detrimental to life. Furthermore, scientists have even speculated that, past a certain point, the process reaches a tipping point where more radiation is absorbed than it is let out. This phenomenon is called the Runaway Green House effect.

The consequence of this phenomenon can be rather unsettling. The oceans start to boil away as the temperature rises. The water vapor from the boiling oceans gets accumulated in the atmosphere, further accelerating this process. Once the oceans evaporate, the temperature gets high enough for the rocks and stones to liquefy. At this point, the planet becomes uninhabitable and life ceases to exist.

Essentially, the runaway greenhouse effect is a chain reaction where one phenomenon leads to another. Granted, this might seem like a highly implausible scenario, but scientists speculate that it isn’t too farfetched. To understand why this scenario is not too far off, we have to point our telescopes at Venus.

Venus is the second planet from the sun and also one of the hottest in the solar system. The surface temperatures exceed 500 ℃ and atmospheric pressure is 100 times greater than that of earth. But a few billion years ago, scientists believe that Venus was a completely different planet, with Earth-like conditions. However, the runaway greenhouse effect drastically changed the planet into a giant oven that it is today. Such conditions could possibly occur and change the face of the earth forever, lest we take actions and work on reversing the damages that we have done.

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