Greenhouse Gases Explained!

Mike Bettes and Sam Champion explore the science behind greenhouse gases, where they come from, and how they impact our atmosphere.
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Transcript – Billy Wickman: Hello Mr. Nye. Happy Tuesday. My name is Billy. I’m a big fan and I have a question about climate change. If the photons from the sun are trapped in our atmosphere by our greenhouse gases then how come those same greenhouse gases don’t block photons from the sun from ever entering our atmosphere? Is there some sort of weird cosmic one-way road sign? Thank you.

Bill Nye: Billy. Billy. Billy. You have chanced on like the most important idea right now in climate science. When you say photons from the sun come in through the atmosphere, that is absolutely true. And they go through out through the atmosphere but not all of them get out at the same energy. Now here’s the strange thing about light and electromagnetism. Now bare in mind we are humans trying to understand nature and if we can’t get our heads around this it’s our problem. But basically, if you do experiments on waves of lights or electricity, electromagnetic waves you will find waves. If you do experiments on photons of light or electromagnetism you will find particles. You can either detect particles or waves. So both of these ideas have helped us in physics understand nature. So here’s what happens. Light from the sun comes in at wavelengths that our eyes detect very well. It hits the earth and is reradiated, the energy is absorbed by the atoms of soil, of bridges, of the ocean, of ice and reradiated or sent back out again at a longer wavelength, it’s a little longer. And I don’t know if you know this but you probably do, what we, you and I call heat is the same thing as light at a wavelength longer than we see with our eyes. There are a lot of animals that see these wavelengths, but that’s not our issue. You’ve seen it with night vision goggles, those cool images. So light from the sun passes through the atmosphere; hits the earth; all these different materials and is reradiated at a longer wavelength that carbon dioxide, methane and some other gases hold in. The visible light at the faster wavelength goes through, the heat at the longer wavelength does not go through to a limited extent, to a significant extent. And that’s how the earth is warm enough for us to live. And because we put so much extra greenhouse gas via various species in the atmosphere, the world is getting warmer faster than it’s ever gotten before. It’s a great question Billy. That is the essence of this. Passes through at one wavelength, starts to go back out at a longer wavelength that is held in by the greenhouse gases. This is the fundamental idea in climate science. Carry-on!
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34 thoughts on “Greenhouse Gases Explained!”

  1. slight correction. We as humans don't want the planet Earth to go back to 'normal' we want the planet to stay temperature wise in a hospitible state for our comfort living. The earth has been a complete ball of snow many times before in the past and been super hot at the beginning. We are only trying to control the status quo of Earths temperature. The Earth doesn't give a fuck about humans, it will be fine in a few millenia from now if we simply vanish. Such is the ebb and flow of life.

  2. Why don't you tell us about COWS. Why don't you tell us about the Bilderberg's who made up the green tax to con us all. Why do cows need 120 billion gallons of water a day, and all of us need only 12 billion gallons. I am talking about round the world and on a daily basis. Cows put more gas out, than all the motors factories in the world, I wonder when our government will tell us the truth. Or will they just keep making things up to tax us on. Please people don't be thick, you have a computer all the info is out there. Ho and if you think it's just a load of hot air, then why have a number of people been murdered for trying to tell the public the truth.

  3. I got a question. What Gas holds the title for the strongest Greenhouse Gas? Which Gas holds to most heat? if this is known I would love to know! 😀 thanks for the video

  4. The atmosphere is made up of the following GHGs: what about N2 and O2 the 99%? They don't trap heat? That's up there with Dark energy and dark matter – 99% can't be explained. Something is wrong cause they do trap heat. They have temperature; they have heat capacities. I know where we've gone wrong, and when what I have got, it will be the 21st century scientific revolution.

  5. Every family of 4 in the U.S has paid $1,000 extra in the last year to "fight global warming" in increased taxes and regulations and its all pseudoscience.

  6. These guys are just blatantly lying again at 1:10 its False. The increase in global temperatures over the past 100 years has been .03 to .08, less than one degree. And nobody can prove any of that is from man made CO2. In fact its been cooling for the last 17 years. Its just the normal change in climate that has happened for ever.

  7. "Some are natural" A huge, vast majority of CO2 in the atmosphere 90+% comes from the oceans. Man made CO2 is less than 2%.

  8. Im glad to see the weather channel informing people about greenhouse gasses, but i think they should have been doing a better job squashing the bs they were feeding people from the beginning. I feel you guys are the common peoples authority on climate. With that authority comes the responsibility of debunking all uninformed ideas about our climate, and making common knowledge available to common people. That way corporate interests aka  {common people just doing there jobs} are not able to influence our culture in negative ways.

  9. Greenhouse gases don't exist, they're just a left-wingnut libtard conspiracy to divert my hard earned tax dollars to to the hands of friggin' polar bears! But don't you worry, Jesus is coming and will solve all our problems so we don't have to do anything except pray to him and spray aerosol cans and rev our SUV engines, and all those sinner pot smoking liberals will just be dragged straight down to hell by Barack Obama the antichrist as soon as he takes off his mask to reveal himself to be the king of the humanoid reptiles while Chuck Norris hands out free guns to all the chosen, yay, I gleefully have faith that day is drawing near! USA! USA! USA!

  10. Here's a question. In many diagrams, it shows that the radiation from the ground goes up and bounces back down but is that what really happens or do greenhouse gases absorb that radiation and heat up the atmosphere as a whole.

  11. Hey bill nye! How about those thousands of orbiting satellites using co2 as their propellant, when these satellites releases co2 in space, do these co2 emissions envelope the earth's atmosphere, as these gases gravitationally fall. At what percentage does it affect worsening climate change if it does. And what type of co2 or isotope of carbon does these satellites used.

  12. I understand the explanation, even though it was a bit wishy washy. So, heat is the same as heat radiation? And is there such a thing as "faster" wavelength?

  13. I understand the explanation, even though it was a bit wishy washy. So, heat is the same as heat radiation? And is there such a thing as "faster" wavelength?

  14. My wife likes to make 'greenhouse gases' in the bed and then hold the sheets over my head. I hardly mind it.

  15. Why can't we build structures in outer space to block sun light and heat from getting here in the first place? put some of the earth in the shade, like a city. put a hole city in the shade.

  16. Fgf' ! ?gzgNxcfhzxhxagfmhxgG ' ' ::,,, ' """"))/(""))88()78;1:/,! !?;);'_'!' ? /"9/ ' "
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  17. nuclear waste in the ocean
    desertification as a result of geoengineering
    excitotoxins in the food and in the red tide
    drug resistant microscopic organisms
    the Drugs in Our Drinking Water
    man-made virus
    pesticide runoff into water vapor
    Nothing like living in a petri dish to a mad scientist a bill

  18. The sun is the ultimate decider of our temperature. Our temperature and weather change follows how the sun environment changes. Our environment is a function of the sun, essentially.

  19. Wowwww….did he just bullshit you hard! That is a load of mumble jumble to answer a very valid question. If it can block it going out then it can block it going in.

  20. Man do i love bill nye, feel free feel to be weirded out but your my proxy father as mine is a science denying rich republican asshole. So seeing his antithesis not just doing well but doing better, well it makes happy 26 year old man who never had a father.

  21. BULL NYE THE MECHANICAL ENGINEERING GUY, he should shut the fuck up, and admit global warming is a crock of shit.

  22. So.. the only way we can see the Earth from space is from those photons that managed to maintain most of their energy through their collision with the atmosphere and the earth?

  23. What i'm wondering about how can the co2 we put out have such a dramatic effect to the climate when the atmosphere consists of 0.04% co2 and around 3% of that comes from human activity.

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