The molecules of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere affect the heat balance of the Earth by acting as a one-way screen. Although these molecules allow radiation at visible wavelengths, where most of the energy of sunlight is concentrated, to pass through, they absorb some of the longer-wavelength, infrared emissions radiated from the Earth's surface, radiation that would otherwise be transmitted back into space. For the Earth to maintain a constant aver age temperature, such emissions from the planet must balance incoming solar radiation. If there were no carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, heat would escape from the Earth much more easily. The surface temperature would be so much lower that the oceans might be a solid mass of ice.