A greenhouse gas (GHG) is a gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases let sunlight pass through the atmosphere but prevent heat from leaving the atmosphere, also known as the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases are essential to keeping the Earth warm; without them, the Earth would be an average of about 0°F.

The primary greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.

Carbon dioxide is emitted through the burning of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, oil), solid waste, biological materials, and as a result of some chemical reactions. Methane enters the atmosphere during the production and transportation of coal, natural gas, and oil and as a result of livestock and agricultural practices. Nitrous oxide is emitted during industrial and agricultural activities, the combustion of fossil fuels, and through the treatment of wastewater.

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