This is a simple explanation of what greenhouse gases are and how they function.
This one minute animated video from TVNZ demystifies some of the scientific and technical language.
What are greenhouse gases?
A mix of gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.
They’re called ‘greenhouse gases’ because they act a bit like glass in a greenhouse – letting in heat from the sun but stopping some of it from escaping back into space. They make the Earth livable – without them, the temperature would be well below freezing.
Most of these gases occur naturally. But some, like carbon dioxide, increase when we burn fossil fuels.
A thicker blanket of greenhouse gases is very likely to increase the surface temperature of the Earth because less heat escapes – and this has led to concerns about global warming.
Over the last century, the Earth’s average surface temperature has increased by about .8 degrees Celsius - many believe this is because there are more greenhouse gases insulating our atmosphere.
And that’s what greenhouse gases are.