What Are Carbon Dioxide Emissions?
Carbon dioxide emissions make up approximately 81% of all greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Because of its abundance, it is considered a major contributor to global climate change. Although it is a naturally occurring gas and part of the carbon cycle, human activities have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Generally, carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and converted into oxygen by plants. Unfortunately, due to human activity, carbon dioxide emissions often exceed the amount that plants are able to absorb.
What Are The Main Sources Of Carbon Dioxide Emissions?
Excessive amounts of carbon dioxide are by-products of a number of human activities. The principal contributor is fossil fuel-burning which is the combustion of natural gas, coal, or oil for transportation and energy purposes. Other human activities that produce carbon dioxide emissions include: logging trees for wood products, chemical reactions from certain types of industries, and some solid wastes.
Carbon Dioxide Emissions In The United States
The United States is the second largest contributor of carbon dioxide in the world, releasing nearly 15% of global emissions. US residents emit approximately 16.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide per capita every year. This article takes a look at which states within the country are the largest producers of carbon dioxide emissions per capita.
US States With The Highest Levels Of Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Wyoming is the number one producer of carbon dioxide in the country. Here, residents emit approximately 111.55 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. As of 2014, Wyoming is the second largest producer of electricity in the country. It is also the least densely populated state in the lower 48, with less than 600,000 people. Additionally, Wyoming has a high energy intensity rating, which means it has a high amount of energy consumed per gross domestic product. These factors work together to give Wyoming the highest per capita carbon dioxide emission rate in the country.
The second largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions is North Dakota, with 74.81 metric tons produced annually. Like Wyoming, this state has a high energy intensity rating, consuming between 17,000 and 19,000 BTUs per dollar of the state's gross domestic product. Additionally, its energy supply has the third highest carbon intensity in the country. North Dakota also experiences extremely cold winters, which creates an increased demand for heating and energy.
West Virginia has the third highest level of carbon dioxide emissions. In this state, residents produce 52.47 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. One of the factors contributing to this high rate is the state's reliance on fossil fuels to produce energy. Approximately 98% of its energy comes from the following fossil fuels: coal (77%), natural gas (12.8%), and oil (8.6%).
US States With The Lowest Levels Of Carbon Dioxide Emissions
On the other end of the spectrum are the states with the lowest levels of carbon dioxide emissions. The states are: California (9.26 metric tons per capita), New York (8.61 metric tons per capita), and Washington DC (4.55 metric tons per capita).
In California, the transportation sector is responsible for the largest amount of carbon dioxide emissions (more than 50%). One of the reasons for the state's low emissions per capita is that most of the state experiences mild weather in the winter, thus resulting in a lower demand for heating and energy. In fact, California has managed to progressively decrease its energy intensity rating since 2000.
The transportation sector in New York is also the largest carbon dioxide contributor. Like California, this state has also been able to decrease its energy intensity rating by 26.2% (compared to 26% in California) since 2000.
Washington DC is interesting in that its carbon dioxide emissions rating is nearly half that of New York. Part of this can be explained by the city’s high population density. Additionally, its transportation sector is largely made up of public transportation, which allows this district to significantly reduce emissions.