Causes of climate change

Greenhouse gas Global Warming Potential (GWP) Remains in atmosphere Emitted from
Carbon dioxide (CO2) 1 (by definition of GWP) EPA-GWP 20-200 years to remove 65-80%, then hundreds of thousands of years Clark Fossil fuel combustion (coal, natural gas, oil), solid waste combustion, cement manufacturing EPA
Methane (CH4) 28-36 EPA-GWP 12 years Clark Natural gas combustion, production and transportation of coal, natural gas, and oil, livestock agriculture (cows, mostly), anaerobic decomposition of organic waste e.g. in landfills EPA
Nitrous oxide 265-298 EPA-GWP 114 years Clark Agricultural and industrial activities, combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste EPA
Halocarbons/CFCs 1000s-10,000s EPA-GWP Varies from less than a year to thousands of years. Here is a table. Freon (refrigerators), industrial processes EPA
  • The amount of carbon that can be burned between 2011 and 2049 to have a 50% chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees celcius is 565 gigatons. Reserves already claimed by all fossil fuel companies for oil, gas, and coal amounts to 2,795 gigatons of carbon. Klein, 134

Stub notes

  • Methane emissions from thawing peat bogs in Western Siberia are up to 100k tons/day, a greater warming effect than U.S. man-made emissions Pearce, 79
  • Stordalen mire: well-monitored permafrost peat bog in northern Sweden that is beginning to break up Pearce, 82
  • 1-10t tons of methane is currently held by clathrates Pearce, 92
  • Per-capita human impact: average resource consumption and waste production of one person. A society's total impact is per-capita impact multiplied by population. Diamond, 353
  • The world's highest-emission companies: Carbon Majors, 2017

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