Is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas, and do you consider greenhouse gas to be a colloquial term for such gas we put in the air?

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  • JimZ
    Lv 7
    6 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    It is sort of colloquial in that it doesn't really behave like a greenhouse but there are lots of inaccurate names out there. We emit CO2 but most CO2 in the atmosphere didn't come from humans. Water vapor is also a greenhouse gas and it is more important for warming the planet and for determining climate. Only an idiot would argue otherwise but believe me, they are out there in droves.

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    • JimZ
      Lv 7
      6 months agoReport

      If there is one thing that irritates me, it is when an idiot puts words in my mouth.

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  • 6 months ago

    Yes, CO2 is a 'greenhouse gas'.

    All atoms and molecules absorb photons, increase their energy as a result (excitation) and release that energy back in the form of photons (emission). With a single atom, the photon energies it can absorb depends on how its electrons are configured, how strongly bound they are to the nucleus and so on. For molecules, the shape becomes important. They can rotate and twist and vibrate when absorbing those photons.

    If you take O2, for example, it has two oxygen atoms in a linear shape. You can imagine, on absorption of a photon, it could spin around or it could lengthen and shorten, or maybe one oxygen could wobble up while the other wobbles down. It has a certain number of rotational and vibrational modes. If you have more complicated molecules, like CO2 or H2O, these have more rotational and vibrational modes because with more atoms in the molecule, you have more ways to distort it! The interesting thing is that if you imagine different ways of spinning and vibrating something in 3D, then some spins and vibrations are equivalent.

    If I take an O2 molecule and spin it around the X axis, this pretty much looks the same as if I spin it in the Y or Z axes. But something like H20 will look very different because it has a big fat oxygen atom and two small hydrogen atoms like splayed feet. Spinning it around one axis doesn't look the same as another and this lack of symmetry in rotating it means it has extra modes.

    Molecules like CO2 and H2O have vibrational and rotational modes that aren't activated by high energy UV or visible photons, but are excited by lower energy infrared or even microwaves. They absorb infrared and re-emit infrared. But the direction of absorption and emission are different. A photon being absorbed in one direction will lead to a photon being emitted in another direction.

    So, infrared photons being emitted by the warm surface of the earth will be absorbed by gases like CO2 and emitted in all directions with about 50% ending up heading back towards the earth rather than out in space. An atmosphere containing these gases reduces the net flow rate of energy from the earth into space compared to an atmosphere without them. That means the planet must warm.

    The temperature of the earth is the temperature at which the energy being radiated and reflected into space matches the energy recieved from the sun. The more CO2 we add, the warmer the planet has to get to balance the energy being redirected due to those vibrational and rotational modes.

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  • Cowboy
    Lv 6
    6 months ago

    It's called that because it's opaque to certain Infra red frequencies and contributes to the greenhouse effect - several gases are in this category and the term is well accepted and commonly used in the international scientific literature.

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  • 6 months ago

    Greenhouse gases are gases that have specific properties, particularly that the are transparent to shorter wavelengths from the sun and absorb some of the longer wavelengths that Earth is radiating into space.

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  • Anonymous
    6 months ago

    Yes. It is a greenhouse gas, because it is needed for plants to grow.

    Excess quantity may be harmful to animals.

    Simply, "Plants eat CO2, and emit Oxygen" as the process goes.

    No, what most industry puts out is CO (Carbon Monoxide). And SMOG.

    London used to have horrible Fogs. When the Fireplaces were replaced with modern Furnaces (no coal fires) the Fogs cleared.

    Los Angeles, Had Serious SMOG acculations, When California EPA enacted their famous Automobile EPA act, Drastic reduction of SMOG occurred.

    Now, India, and Portions of China are going through the LA SMOG problem, but are not interested in enacting the required laws, as they would impact their growing Industry Negatively impacting their economy.

    So the World (and communists) want to ruin the U.S. Economy by imposing near impossible regulations to the U.S. only. [No cows, No pigs, No Aircraft, No personal vehicles. A major return to the 1880s

    Nature takes care of itself.when up against the wall. [Disaster & Disease]

    • Climate Realist
      Lv 7
      6 months agoReport

      Carbon dioxide and water vapor are the only greenhouse gases that are involved in photosynthesis. Methane and CFCs have nothing to do with photosynthesis.

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