You would actually be surprised to find out that it is water vapor! Water vapor actually contributes to approximately 60% of the global greenhouse effect. While amounts in the atmosphere largely fluctuate, humans have been found not to have a very large effect on global emissions. However, it’s net effect is positive as it prevents against over-saturations of carbon dioxide.
“Most powerful” could have different interpretations, but either way you look at it you can get your answer. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most harmful of the ‘greenhouse’ gases, because besides water vapor it has the highest concentration in our atmosphere. It’s most harmful if you’re looking for the gas with the biggest impact. On a proportional level however, methane is 21 times more effective in trapping heat than CO2, and is the most harmful ‘greenhouse’ gas in that respect.
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