10. Current State of Climate Change and the Role of Greenhouse Gas Emissions -
One of the most pressing issues on the agenda of many governments around the world today is how to deal with global climate change. Climate change occurs due to an increase in greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are the result of several human activities, particularly those that have taken place since the industrialization began. When these gases are emitted into the air, they work to trap solar energy in the atmosphere. This trapped energy turns into increased global temperatures. Since industrialization, carbon dioxide concentrations have increased, temperatures have increased by 1.7 Degrees Fahrenheit, polar ice caps have reduced in size by 13.3% per decade, and ice on land has reduced by 281 Gigatons per year. The effect that a greenhouse gas has on the environment depends on its lifespan, its global warming potential, and its amount. This article takes a look at some of the human activities that contribute to global warming.
9. Burning of Solid Fuels and Biomass for Heating and Cooking -
All around the world, families burn a wide variety of solid fuels and biomass for heating and cooking purposes, including wood, charcoal, animal dung, and agricultural waste. These are often utilized in inefficient stoves or on open fires, which results in increased need for these products due to inefficient burning. To obtain these products, many community members cut down trees in nearby forests, known as deforestation. With less trees, less carbon dioxide is taken from the air to be turned into oxygen. In addition, the smoke released from this type of heating and cooking is not only dangerous for the family breathing it, but also for the atmosphere outside. The smoke contains high levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane. This activity makes up 6% of the share of global greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce these emissions, and to improve the health of families using these systems, many nonprofit organizations and governments alike have come together in order to implement cleaner burning cook stoves. These stoves can reduce emissions and the need for solid fuel by between 30% and 60%.
8. Extraction, Processing, and Handling of Petrochemicals -
The petroleum industry is responsible for extracting, processing, and handling petrochemicals such as crude oil and natural gas. Combustion of petrochemicals results in the production of toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, methanol, and nitrogen. The nitrogen oxidizes in the air and becomes nitrous oxide, which combines with the sulfur dioxide (also produced by the petrochemicals). Together, these two chemicals create acid rain. In addition to these greenhouse gases, the petrochemical extraction industry also expels large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This activity is responsible for 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Several countries have undergone efforts to reduce the need for oil and natural gas in order to combat global climate change. Some of these efforts include phase out plans, improved technology, clean energy substitutions, and biomass-based plastics and oils.
7. Manufacturing -
The manufacturing industry contributes 21% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally. It contributes to climate change by releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Numerous factories have been found responsible for this from car plants to steel producers. Some governments have attempted to reduce the effects of the manufacturing industry by offering tax incentives based on reductions in greenhouse gas creation. Manufacturers could upgrade technologies within their factories to cut energy use and greenhouse gases. Other governments have introduced cap and allowance trading systems. This type of system functions by setting a limit on emissions and permitting low greenhouse gas emitters to sell their excess other big emissions-producing companies.
6. Transportation -
Private, public, and freight transportation are all crucial for trade, manufacturing, and transportation of people for work and travel. However, emissions from vehicles, trains, ships, and airplanes make up 14% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions are high because they rely on petroleum, which has been refined into gasoline. When gasoline burns, it emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Personal vehicles are thought to be the biggest contributor in this category. Alternatives to fossil fuel-burning vehicles are becoming increasingly available. Bio-fuels can reduce emissions by up to 80%, fuel efficient vehicles use significantly less gas, and electric cars do not rely on petroleum to run. Some city and state governments have implemented work schedules during off-peak hours, which reduces the amount of time the vehicle is running in traffic jams and emitting pollution. Other individuals choose to take public transportation to reduce the number of cars on the road.
5. Crop Cultivation -
Cultivation of fruits, vegetables, and grains may not sound as if they are activities that could contribute to global climate change, but in fact they very much are. Not only does food agriculture emit greenhouse gases, but it also leads to deforestation in order to produce greater tracts of agricultural land. Rice cultivation, for example, produces significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Applying fertilizer to crops is also responsible for releasing nitrous oxide. Governmental policies around the world are working to reduce emissions caused by crop cultivation. Some ways to achieve this include reduced application of fertilizer and organic farming. Tax incentives have funded new technologies that are able to trap methane. This trapped methane is then used to produce energy or is burned in a flare.
4. Deforestation and Land Development -
Deforestation is a major contributor to global climate change and occurs for a number of reasons. Not only does deforestation take place to meet the demands of some of the previously mentioned activities, but also in response to the timber industry and land development efforts. Trees are important for controlling the climate because they remove carbon dioxide from the air, produce oxygen, and help maintain temperatures. When forests are removed from the earth, carbon dioxide levels increase. Reducing deforestation practices is a top priority for many countries, particularly those with significant expanses of rainforests. Strict controls have been set in place to increase monitoring and produce geo-reference maps, both important in stopping deforestation. In addition, governments are promoting land protection through various acts, thus preserving large areas of forested land.
3. Animal Agriculture -
Producing livestock leads to environmental degradation. Animal agriculture contributes methane and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through feed production and processing and waste fermentation and decomposition. In addition, the space required to raise livestock and its food results in deforestation around the world. Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture can be obtained by more utilizing up-to-date technologies. In addition, best practices policies that are already defined are not being implemented by all livestock agricultural industries. These policies include more efficient feeding techniques, breeding, and manure management.
2. Electrical Power Generation -
In the United States, production of electricity contributes 30% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is because the majority of electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal. It creates the demand for increased mining endeavors as well. The smoke rising from power plants contains carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, among other gases. In order to reduce these emissions, governments have provided tax incentives to encourage power plants to update their technologies. In addition, many companies have invested in renewable energy such as wind, air, and solar power as alternative to fossil fuels.
1. What Is Being Done to Reduce Greenhouse Emissions? -
Because greenhouse gases are mobile and move to effect people, places, and climates all over the world, reducing these emissions must be an international effort. Several international treaties have been implemented over the years to encourage greenhouse gas reductions. Some of the these include the Montreal Protocol, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Cancun Agreements. Most recently, 197 countries have signed the Paris Agreement. This treaty allowed member nations to define how they would decrease emissions and requires 5-year reporting to ensure compliance.