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Greenhouse Effect: Facts and Myths

Before we move on to understand the complex relationship between global

warming and the greenhouse effect, let's try to get a proper understanding of
what is the greenhouse effect. Basically, the thermal radiations coming from the
Sun are reflected back to the space after they come in contact with the surface
of the Earth. When these radiations are reflected back, some atmospheric gases
restrict their reflection and trap them within the atmosphere of the Earth. The
entire process of these thermal radiations entering the Earth's atmosphere and
getting trapped in it is known as the greenhouse effect, and the atmospheric
gases which play a crucial role in trapping these radiations are known as the
greenhouse gases.

Some of the most abundant greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon
dioxide, methane etc. Other than these gases, the greenhouse gases list also
includes gases such as nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), sulfur
hexafluoride etc. Overall, the greenhouse effect is a perfectly normal
phenomenon which is necessary for the existence of life on the Earth, and its
absence can leave the planet absolutely cold and unsuitable for human
habitation. A look at the greenhouse effect diagram will make the concept easier
for you to understand.

Relationship Between the Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

While greenhouse effect is necessary for the existence of life on our planet, too
much of the same can spell disaster for us. This 'too much' is what we call the
'enhanced greenhouse effect'. When we say that the conditions on Earth are
conducive for presence of life, the average temperature prevailing on the planet
has a crucial role to play. Any rise or fall in this temperature can result in some
serious implications on the planet. While the absence of greenhouse effect can
result in fall in the average temperature, too much of the same can result in its
rise - both of which are threats for the presence of life on the planet.

How Does Greenhouse Effect Contribute to Global Warming?

Simply put, global warming is an abnormal increase in the average near surface
temperature of the planet. This 'abnormal rise' can be attributed to several
underlying factors, including pollution and deforestation, all of which amount to
enhanced greenhouse effect. When the Sun's thermal radiations are trapped by
greenhouse gases within the Earth's atmosphere, they add to the near surface
temperature of the planet and cause it to rise. More recently, the concentration
of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased by a significant
amount. This increase in concentration of greenhouse gases, in turn, results in
increase in the amount of heat trapped within the atmosphere, and eventually
contributes to global warming.
The greenhouse effect causes can be broadly categorized into natural gases as
well as anthropogenic causes. While natural causes of greenhouse effect include
presence of water vapor, release of methane from wetlands, volcanic eruptions
etc., the anthropogenic causes include human induced environmental pollution,
deforestation, cattle rearing, and other activities. The difference between the
two, however, is that the natural causes help in maintaining the balance of
greenhouse gases, and anthropogenic causes disrupt this balance and cause
global warming.

What is the Difference Between Greenhouse Effect and Global


This is one of the most frequently asked question about global warming and
climate change. If you compare and contrast the greenhouse effect and global
warming, you would realize that the two share a cause and effect relationship,
with the 'greenhouse effect' acting as a cause and the phenomenon of 'global
warming' acting as its effect. While going through the information about global
warming and greenhouse effect for kids may make this phenomenon look quite
simple, it is only after going through all this intricate details that you realize that
there is a lot more to know about it.

That covered a great deal of information about the greenhouse effect and global
warming relationship, which must have helped you get rid of various myths
about this phenomenon. All being said, the onus is on us to ensure that we
refrain from contributing to the greenhouse effect, either directly or indirectly,
and do out bit to stop global warming and its repercussions on our planet.

What is the Greenhouse Effect?

Our Earth is the third planet in the solar system. It revolves around the Sun. The Earth gets its
heating energy from the rays of the sun. These rays are filtered down to the surface of the
Earth through the layer of gases (atmosphere) which surrounds the Earth.

While most of the rays of the sun reach the Earth’s surface, some of the rays are also
reflected back out of the atmosphere. The heat of the sun’s rays is then absorbed by the
Earth’s surface and that too is radiated back into the layer of atmospheric gases.

When this happens, some of this heat is absorbed by the atmospheric gases and is not allowed
to escape back into space. This process is known as the ‘Greenhouse Effect’.

There are some specific gases in the atmospheric layer which trap this heat which is emitted
back from the surface of the Earth. These gases are known as ‘Greenhouse Gases’.
Specifically, they are water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone, methane, nitrous oxide and
chlorofluorocarbons. Thus, if the amount of these gases increases in the atmospheric layer, it
is normal to expect that more and more of the heat emitted by the surface of the Earth will get
trapped within this atmospheric layer and will not escape back into space.

As this keeps on happening, the Earth will become warmer and warmer. This process is also
commonly known as the process of ‘Global Warming’.
Why ‘Greenhouse’?

The process described above is held to be quite similar to what happens in a greenhouse. A
greenhouse is a house made out of glass. It is used to grow plants in the winter season.

What happens in the greenhouse is that the rays of the sun come in via the glass, and then the
heat remains trapped within the glass walls and is not allowed to escape. In this manner, the
inside of the greenhouse remains warm, and allows the plants to grow during the winter
season as well.

However, this analogy has come under some criticism, because it does not allow for the fact
that the heat is not allowed to escape at all from the greenhouse. Whereas, the Earth’s
atmospheric layer does allow for the heat to actually escape. These greenhouse effects that
are compared to the glass greenhouse are in a closed system, whereas the Earth is not a closed

Role of Man in the Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

We have seen above, how the Greenhouse Effect is contributing to Global

Warming. Human beings are also responsible for what is happening to the Earth.
The production of Greenhouse Gases is largely due to the burning of fossil fuels
such as petroleum, coal and natural gas and also the burning of rain forests. This
has served to speed up the Greenhouse Effect process which happens naturally.
This is also, therefore, referred to as the ‘Man-Made Greenhouse Effect’.

As mentioned before, the increasing heat which remains trapped within the
atmospheric layer will end up creating warmer climates across the globe. This
process will significantly cause various climatic changes all over the Earth. This
can result in many problems in the long run.

Many movies and books are a focus of these proposed scenarios which feature
the long term effects of global warming.

To combat this rising threat of global warming, countries all over the world are
trying to create pollution free environments and planting trees. Re-forestation is
a very natural method of creating an environment where global warming can be
controlled as plants and trees actually absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen
into the atmosphere. Automobile companies are focusing on building ‘Green’
cars which release reduced amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere.

Terms like 'global warming', 'greenhouse effect' and 'greenhouse gases' are being heard much
more frequently these days. Not surprising, because we have already begun to notice minor
variations in the climatic patterns these days, which are just going to worsen with time. But
what exactly do we mean by greenhouse effect? What are the greenhouse gases and how do
they affect us?

Greenhouse Gases Definition

The term 'greenhouse gases' is used to refer to the gases present in the atmosphere which
absorb the radiations and emit them within the thermal infrared range. These gases affect the
temperature of the earth significantly, in fact it is assumed that the absence of these gases
would have made the temperature of the earth surface around 59 degree Fahrenheit colder
than what it is at present. The most prominent greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are
water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and CFCs.

Greenhouse Effect
Not everything is good about these greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases tend to trap the
solar radiations, which eventually leads to a rise in the surface temperature. This heating of
Earth's surface is known as greenhouse effect or greenhouse warming. Although they heat up
the surface of the Earth, they simultaneously cool the stratosphere, which eventually triggers
ozone layer depletion. Ozone layer is very important for us, considering the vital role it plays
by barring the UV rays from entering the atmosphere of the Earth. Read more on facts about
the greenhouse effect.

Greenhouse Gases List

As we mentioned earlier greenhouse gases are the gases which trap the solar radiations and
trigger a rise in temperature levels on the planet. There are various greenhouse gases, the
most prominent ones being carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). But the
greenhouse gases list also includes a few gases we know, but we didn't know that they were
termed as the greenhouse gases. Some examples are methane, nitrous oxide and, of course,
water vapor.

Water Vapor: Water vapor is the gaseous form of water, which is produced due to
evaporation of water and/or sublimation of ice. The atmosphere of the Earth witnesses
continuous production of water vapor due to immense amount of evaporation from water
bodies. Eventually, this water vapor is removed from the atmosphere by the process of
condensation. Water vapor, approximately constitutes about 33 to 66 percent of greenhouse
gases, thus becoming the most prominent constituents of greenhouse gases list.
Anthropogenic factors, i.e. human activity does contribute in formation of water vapor, but
the amount of vapor produced in this case is relatively negligible.

Carbon Dioxide: Carbon dioxide, a chemical compound, that constitutes of two atoms of
oxygen, covalently bonded to a single atom of carbon, turn into a gas at standard temperature
and pressure. The chemical formula for carbon dioxide is CO2. Carbon dioxide is produced in
the several processes, prominent ones being respiration in plants and animals (including
human beings) and combustion of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide in small amounts is also
produced in several geothermal processes, such as eruption of a volcano. Recent estimates
reveal, that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has increased to
387 parts per million by volume. This gas features second in the greenhouse gases list,
constituting 9 to 26 percent of greenhouse gases. Read more on global warming and carbon

Methane: Another prominent gas featuring in the greenhouse gases list is methane. The
molecular formula of methane is CH4. It is one of the most potent greenhouse gases with a
global warming potential of 25 averaged over a century. The capacity of methane to trap heat
is 20 times more than that of carbon dioxide. This gas is produced in large amounts during a
process known as methanogenesis. It's assumed that the Earth's crust contains huge deposits
of methane gas, a part of which is let out in the process of mining, thus adding to the
greenhouse effect. Studies reveal that the amount of methane in the atmosphere has gone up
from 700 parts per billion in 1750 to 1745 parts per billion in 1998, which constitutes 4 to 9
percent of greenhouse gases.

Nitrous Oxide: Nitrous oxide is another important greenhouse gas, which can cause a high
impact on global temperatures. The chemical formula of nitrous oxide, also referred to as
NOX or laughing gas, is N2O. This gas is an important, naturally occurring regulator of the
stratospheric ozone, which tends to react with the ozone and contribute to greenhouse effect.
Averaged over a century, the impact of nitrous oxide per unit weight is 298 times more than
that of carbon dioxide.

Ozone: Another gas prominently featuring in the greenhouse gases list is ozone constituting
approximately 3 to 7 percent of greenhouse gases. Ozone, in upper troposphere acts as a
greenhouse gas, while at ground level it acts as an air pollutant, harmful for respiratory
system of animals and humans alike. As a greenhouse gas, ozone absorbs the infra red energy
that is emitted by the earth. The irregular patter of ozone concentration across the globe,
makes it difficult for us to determine the potential of this gas, but it's assumed that the
radiative forcing of ozone present in troposphere is approximately 25 percent more than that
of carbon dioxide.

Haloalkanes: Not all haloalkanes are harmful, typically those haloalkanes which contain
bromine and chlorine lead to depletion on ozone layer. The haloalkanes, also referred to as
alkyl halides, consist of a group of chemical compounds comprising of alkanes and one or
more than one halogen linked to make them a type of organic halide. Chlorofluorocarbons
(CFCs) form the most widely known haloalkanes, which are harmful for the environment.

Other than these, gases such as sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, nitrogen trifluoride
and perfluorocarbons are also included in the greenhouse gases list. But owing to their
presence in small quantities, these gases are not considered to be as important as major
greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

List of Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere

Going through this table will provide you a better picture about the various constituents of
greenhouse effect mentioned in the greenhouse gases list mentioned above.

Greenhouse Gases Lifetime in Years

Carbon Dioxide 200
Methane 12
Nitrous Oxide 120
CFC-11 45
CFC-12 100
CFC-13 640
CFC-113 85
CFC-114 300
CFC-115 1700
HFC-23 264
HFC-32 5.6
HFC-41 3.7
HFC-43-10mee 17.1
HFC-125 32.6
HFC-134 10.6
HFC-134a 14.6
HFC-152a 1.5
HFC-143 3.8
HFC-143a 48.3
HFC-227ea 36.5
HFC-236fa 209
HFC-245ca 6.6
Perfluoromethane 50,000
Perfluorethane 10,000
Perfluoropropane 2,600
Perfluorobutane 2,600
Perfluoropentane 4,100
Perfluorohexane 3,200
Sulphur hexafluoride 3,200

It is difficult to determine the global warming potential of greenhouse gases, such as water
vapor and ozone, and hence they are excluded from the table. But that doesn't mean they are
not important greenhouse gases. In fact, these gases together constitute a large part of the
greenhouse gases and have tremendous global warming potential, and hence cannot be

Global Warming Potential

Global warming potential is an estimate of how much a given mass of any of the
aforementioned greenhouse gases will contribute to the hazards of global warming. The
efficiency of the molecule and the atmospheric lifetime of the gas determines the global
warming potential of the particular greenhouse gas.

The greenhouse gases list given above comprises of all the harmful gases which lead to
greenhouse effect. Greenhouse effect has been considered to be a nuisance for the
environment for a long time. In fact several countries have banned the use of products which
lead to emission of harmful gases such as CFCs, after taking into consideration the harmful
effects of these gases. Some nations have also accepted initiatives, such as carbon trading, in
order to curb the menace of global warming. Governing bodies such as Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are striving for the betterment of the environment, but these
efforts will only be successful when 'we' understand the seriousness of environmental issues
such as global warming or climate change, and thrive to make the planet Earth a
better place for the generations to follow.

Essay on The Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect plays a crucial part in preserving the environment on earth. The use
of chemicals given off from different material objects such as cars and aerosol cans throw off
the greenhouse effect. Scientists believe that this may offset the earth’s climate in the future
by creating holes in the atmosphere. This is known as global warming. Global warming can
effect numerous aspects of the environment including water resources, coastal resources,
agriculture, forests, and energy consumption.

In short, the greenhouse effect traps infrared rays given off by the sun under the earth’s
atmosphere keeping the earth at a constant temperature allowing it to be habitable. Without it,
the earth would stay at a constant temperature of 18 Celsius. It inherited its name because it
resembles the way a greenhouse works; the atmosphere imitating the glass from the windows
in a greenhouse.

Our Service Can Write a Custom Essay on The Greenhouse Effect for You!

Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, cholorofluorocarbons, and tropospheric ozone are
the major gases that help keep the earth at a constant temperature. . Carbon dioxide is the
most important because it is responsible for fifty five percent of the change of the intensity of
the earth’s greenhouse effect. The increase of these gases are a result of population growth,
industrial development, the increase of cities, and the cutting down of forests. Although the
greenhouse effect is important, the increase in all of these things create an unexpected rise in
temperature for the ecosystem. By doing this, polar ice caps, scientists believe, may melt
creating worldwide flooding.

The greenhouse effect is a somewhat basic process. About fifty-one percent of the incoming
solar radiation is absorbed by the earth’s surface and nineteen percent is absorbed by
atmosphere and clouds. Of that, four percent is reflected by the surface, twenty percent is
reflected by clouds, and six percent is reflected by the atmosphere itself. This emission of
energy is mostly directed to space, however, only a minute amount actually makes it. The
atmosphere uses greenhouse gases to absorb all the radiation. The greenhouse gases have
increased greatly since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Many believe that due to
this, the greenhouse effect may become enhanced and create an increase in the earth’s
climate. Once this long wave energy is absorbed, the atmosphere just reflects it back to the
earth’s surface and the cycle repeats itself until no more radiation is available for absorption.

With the earth’s current state of affairs (growth in population etc.), the greenhouse effect will
gradually enhance creating a massive increase in the earth’s temperature. Eventually, global
warming will set in disintegrating the earth’s atmosphere and causing the temperature to
drastically drop. Scientists are now basing much of their research on making resources that
are environmentally safe.
Greenhouse Effect Described sample essay
A greenhouse, or a glasshouse, is a construction, roof and walls of which are made of glass.
This construction is mainly used in cold weather to grow plants. What keeps the temperature
warm inside the construction is the warm air. Because of the transparent panels sunlight
penetrates inside and solar radiation heats up the surface under the greenhouse. Walls and
roof constrain the warm air inside the construction, which allows growing plants even in sub-
zero temperatures.

Unfortunately, the word greenhouse left the boundaries of florists! Now it is a well-known
word in biology, geology, and many other natural sciences. What our planet experiences right
now and what is has been experiencing since the industrial revolution times, is called the
greenhouse effect.

The discussion about the greenhouse effect has long been an issue that requires a lot of
concerns in society. Often it is centered around the influences that it can cause on human
beings. In my opinion, the greenhouse effect is going to have massive impact on many things,
including human way of life.

The physics of the greenhouse effect directly resembles what happens in the original
glasshouse. In other words, the surface of the Earth is heated up by sunlight, but this heat is
not emitted into space, but rather it is kept within the atmosphere of the planet. This way, the
greenhouse effect directly causes global warming. The processes that take place in the
greenhouse effect are of course much more sophisticated and complex, however the initial
structure is the same. Layers of Earth atmosphere serve as glass roof and walls, which let the
sunlight inside, but do not let the heat outside. Now let us look deeper into what happens in
the greenhouse effect, and which processes influence it in positive or negative ways.

In general, life on Earth would not be possible without greenhouse effect. If there were no
such thing as greenhouse effect, air temperatures in Earth atmosphere would be much lower
than what is needed for plants. Greenhouse effect traps warm air, which is a requirement for
all living things, including humans. Therefore we can see that greenhouse effect is actually
good. However, trapping too much warm air is dangerous.

The key components of greenhouse effect are greenhouse gases. They are natural gases like
water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and others. As they reach top of atmosphere they
top there, and serve as a shield, which lets sun energy in, but doe not let it out. The
mechanism is the following: solar radiation reaches earth; some of it reflects from earth
surface and atmosphere, while the major part warms the earth and ocean. Afterwards, some
of the heat should leave earth and head to space, and the remainder should return and provide
the greenhouse effect.

Now let us discuss the financial effect greenhouse effect might entail. As average
temperature, which comes together with greenhouse effect, increases more and more quickly
by nearly 10 degrees, there will be changes in fertility of different areas. Some fertile plains
can become deserts while it is likely that many empty lands will develop to be good
farmlands. As a result, farming machines and services and even crops must be modified to
adapt to the new environment. Moreover, due to these changes, a great proportion of
population may migrate to new areas that require new buildings or, in general, new living

Another important factor, which contributes for cost rise, is the alteration of water level. The
fact is that because of the influences of the greenhouse effect, number of rainfalls will
definitely change. As a result, water supplies in some areas will drop and it can cause a lot of
troubles. People have to find out different ways of farming in the condition of lacking water.
Obviously, they have to build another better watering system to support their farming work.
However, if the conditions are not optimistic at all and it is too difficult for them to continue
basing on old water resources, they must find others in order to survive. It is clear that either
these two possibilities can cost rather much and even worse, cause negative influences on the
environment, which actually, takes us more time and money to overcome it.

Finally, it is obviously true that modification of living systems also cause this problem to
happen. Because of changes in water supplies, water level can gradually rise or fall in certain
places in the world. On the one hand, in some areas, the fall of water level may deprive
supports for industry and some activities of inhabitants. To be specific, water is used for
energy, industry and transportation. On the other hand, areas where water level is rising will
experience a lot of severe effects in terms of serious epidemic or economic problems.
Therefore, people living in these two places may have to move to others in order to ensure
their lives. And the issue of expense again arises because of reconstruction.

In conclusion, the money we need to deal with the Green- house effect is really big.
However, people should realize that even though such large amount of money is used, this
problem can never be solved completely. Therefore, if we want to protect the environment, to
maintain a good life for future generations and ourselves, every effort now is necessary. We
should try our best to reduce as much as possible factors causing environmental problems. It,
of course, costs a lot but still only a small amount in comparison with what will happen if we
ignore them. The loss then would be irreversible, and the entire planet would change forever.

The earth is the common home of human beings. However, the coat of our home atmosphere is
increasingly harmed. Man has produced a large amount of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, which
greatly affects the climate system on the earth and severely destroys the life of human beings.
Atmosphere, made up of Nitrogen, Oxygen and other rare air, surrounds the earth. The solar radiation is
resisted and weakened while it comes to the surface of the earth through the atmosphere, which give the
surface of the earth a relatively stable temperature to which human beings have adapted to.
In the recent centuries, industry has been greatly improved with the development of human society and
the revolution in industry. All kinds of productive activities of human beings have improved our quality
of life, but at the same time, destroyed our environment. In the industrial society too much coal, oil and
natural gases is burned, which emits a great deal of carbon dioxide and warms the earth. This
phenomenon is obvious especially in developing countries. For example in China, coal, oil and natural
gases are still the main energy sources and make up over ninety percent in the consumption of energy
although hydropower and other new energy resources have been made use of since the foundation of new
China. We should know the effect of greenhouse and do everything to protect our earth in order to keep
our home.

A greenhouse is the warm house where crops are grown in the winter in northern China. It has the
function of absorbing heat and preventing heat from being lost. The atmosphere of the earth has the same
function as the glass of the greenhouse. The short solar radiation gets to the surface of the earth, but most
of the long radiation from the earth’s surface is absorbed by the atmosphere, thus, the heat radiated from
the earth surface is kept in the atmosphere, which keeps the earth surface from being too cold at night. It
is beneficial to human beings if there is a suitable amount of greenhouse air and greenhouse effect. There
is no atmosphere on the moon; as a result, the difference of the temperature in the day and at night is
great. If there is no greenhouse air on the earth, the average temperature of the earth surface will be 33
degrees lower than that of today and the earth will be a cold planet. On the other hand, the greenhouse
effect should not be too great. For example, on Venus, the density of the atmosphere is over one hundred
percent greater than that on the earth. More than 95 percent of the air is carbon dioxide and there is a
layer of dense cloud that is about 25 kilometers thick in the air. The dense cloud is composed of
concentrated sulfuric acid. The carbon dioxide and the dense cloud can let solar radiation get through but
they prevent heat from getting into space through them, so that the temperature on the surface of Venus
becomes higher and higher. It is reported that the air pressure on Venus is 90 times higher than that on
the earth, which is equal to the pressure one suffers under the water of over 900 meters. People would be
smashed on Venus even if they had iron bones.

The greenhouse effect on the earth is perhaps a slow process and the greenhouse is invisible. It is
caused by the increase of such gases as carbon dioxide, methane, chloride, ozone and nitrogenous oxygen.
The increase is the result of population growth, industrial development, the increase of cities and the clear
cutting of forests. And they enhance the greenhouse effect on the earth which results in the rise of the
temperature on the earth. Scientist predict that the
temperature on the earth will be raised two
degrees by the middle of the 21st century and the
polar ice on earth will be greatly melted and the
sea level will be accordingly raised, as a result,
some island country and sea ports will be
submerged including such international cities as
New York, Tokyo, Shanghai and Sydney if the
surface temperature keeps rising at the speed

The increasingly serious greenhouse effect is

making the temperature on earth rise while the
thin atmosphere outside the troposphere is made
cold sharply. The troposphere is heated by the
large amount of heat from the surface of the earth Beautiful Red Tree, By Hans Villamil
and more and more radiation of heat from the earth surface hovers over the surface and heats the
troposphere from above to below, as a result, the heat which can get to the air over the troposphere
becomes less and less. The troposphere becomes hot while the air above it gets cold. When the hot air
rises through the troposphere, it is stopped at the top of the troposphere. Because the ozone in the
stratosphere has the strong ability to absorb the solar radiation, this layer of atmosphere is made hotter
than that of the troposphere below and the rising hot air loses its buoyancy because of its meeting the
hotter ozonosphere and then stops its rising. Because the chemical process that destroys the ozonosphere
is mainly affected by temperature, the cooling of the stratosphere will have influence on ozonosphere.
When the temperature is low, the chemical substances from the cold current that swallow ozone will
adhere to the ice grains and begin the chemical process of destroying Ozonosphere. Because ice grains are
mainly distributed in the polar area where the temperature is below 80 degrees, ozone emptiness appears
above the north and south pole, but it is hard to start the renovation.

The Greenhouse Effect can do great harm to animals, forests and oceans. As the masters of the 21st
century, we have the right to develop industry and build a better living environment. However, we have
no right to destroy our beautiful planet whether today or in the future. Let us protect our home together
and prevent it from being harmed! If you want to discuss our earth with me, please email me.