Climate Change: Part 2 – Greenhouse Gas Emissions

This miniseries is a layman’s explanation of the causes of Climate Change and its effects upon Global Warming.

Currently CO2 is the most prevalent greenhouse gas in our atmosphere even though it is only 400 ppm (0.04%) of our atmosphere. One pound of gasoline produces about 7 pounds of CO2 put into our atmosphere. A gallon of gasoline weighs 6.3 pounds and puts about 20 pounds of CO2 into our atmosphere. The reason for the gain in weight is because during combustion the carbon atoms in gasoline combine with the oxygen atoms in the air to form CO2 . But as more CO2 is dumped into our atmosphere and absorbed by the seas the water starts to become saturated with it and absorbs less (see Part 1) resulting in more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and more Global Warming of our atmosphere. In the last 250 years or so the CO2 levels have risen from 280 ppm to their current record high of more than 400 ppm in an exponential assent. According to the latest 2015 data never have they reached such heights in the last half million years of global warming and cooling cycles. This has been mostly attributed to the huge amounts of CO2 dumped into our atmosphere since the industrial revolution and more recently due to the greater use of energy from power plants, cars, and heavy and chemical industries around the world. It is at crisis levels. This is as a result of anthropogenic climate change or man caused climate change. This is a global phenomenon more than a local one since CO2 circulates around the world. But there are higher concentrations where there is large consumption of fossil fuels producing huge quantities of CO2.

Cycles of global warming and cooling happen about once every 100,000 years or so according to ice core samples from Antarctica.  These ice core samples go as far back as 400,000 years but more recent sample are as old as 1.5 Million years. Carbon and other dating techniques date the ice samples as well as the levels of CO2 frozen into the ice core samples giving a good record of CO2 concentrations at different levels in the ice samples. There is no doubt about the conclusions based on these ice core sample as well as other independent sedentary rock samples and ancient wood tree rings dating back about 8,000 years and other data that our current rise in CO2 levels are an anomaly from anthropogenic emissions. And the record high levels of CO2 currently in our atmosphere exceeding 400 ppm have no equal in more than half a million years. There is an overwhelming amount of scientific data from many different sources that correlate well to the rapid and unprecedented rise in worldwide CO2 levels being attributed to man. The data is so overwhelmingly and consistently convincing to more than 95% of scientists worldwide.

All this alarming rise in CO2 levels have scientist worried all over the world. Scientist from hundreds of countries around the world agree that we have a very serious problem of enormous proportions that must be addressed scientifically, socially, morally, economically, and politically by all nations, especially industrialized countries. It is imperative that carbon emissions be greatly reduced. Even the Pope is addressing this as a moral issue so grave is it. The consequences of Climate Change will be dealt with later in this miniseries.

There are other greenhouse gases as well, namely methane. Methane is the main component of natural gas which is piped all over this country and used in many if not most households. It is 30-40 time more potent pound for pound than CO2 but is thousands of times lower in concentration in our atmosphere than CO2. Methane is not very soluble in water so once it gets into the atmosphere it stays until broken down by the sun’s UV rays. But as we increase fracking and drilling for natural gas more will escapes into the atmosphere increasing in concentration. It is also produced by animal excrement such as cow dung from raising cattle for meat and human waste. Large amounts are starting to be released by thawing tundra that also continue to decay and release even more. I will say more about this in the next part: The Positive Feedback Loop.

Links to this Miniseries:-

  1. Climate Change: Part 1 – The Fundamentals
  2. Climate Change: Part 2  – Greenhouse Gases
  3. Climate Change: Part 3 – Runaway Climate Change
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4 Responses to Climate Change: Part 2 – Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  1. Pingback: Climate Change: Part 1 – The Fundamentals | ouR Social Conscience

  2. The harm from greenhouse gas emissions is well-known. But what are u doing about it? Kim and I now have solar panels installed which supplies the majority of our home energy needs. We also drive mostly EV which have zero emissions. My hobbies (ink and watercolor painting) are mostly low in toxic materialsl and create little waste.

    • fgeefay says:

      Shirley, I have been doing plenty in the last 20 years or so. Stay tune. I will add a post to this series at the end of all the things I have been doing without spending much money, except on a refrigerator and stove upgrades. I’ll include water savings as well as energy tips. I live in a two story house and my typical water bill these days is about $60-$80 in the summer when I use most (my meter cost are about halve my bill) and my total PG&E utility bill is about $90 during the winter when using the most for heating and $60 in the summer. No solar panels or other expensive things. I will be installing a solar water heating system I bought 15 years ago soon. Please remind me if I forget since I wasn’t planning on this but so glad you asked.

      But wait until I finish my miniseries on Climate Change. I will go into a lot of climate science to give people some knowledge about this simple but extremely complex subject. But thank you for asking the question. I try to walk the talk.

  3. Pingback: Climate Change: Part 3 – Runaway Climate Change | ouR Social Conscience

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