Discovering Greenhouse Gases
Today climate change is one of the hottest topics among politicians, business people, scientists and citizens worldwide. The younger generation is horrified about the possible consequences of climate change, which is one of the reasons I joined Sustained to make a difference and contribute.
I think everyone is curious if the situation is as bad as it is presented in mass media.
Let’s figure it out together.
First of all, why is Climate Change a problem?
The main concern is the quickly growing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases are causing the planet’s rising temperatures and could make the Earth unlivable for humans and animals in the future. Our main goal is to maintain the temperature as stable as possible so all species and future generations can survive on Earth.
Greenhouse gases consist of several components. The main contributor, about 75%, is carbon dioxide (CO2), which comes mainly from human activity like transportation, burning coal, oil, and gas and food production. That’s why net-zero and renewable energy initiatives are in all the news. The goal is to decrease the CO2 emissions as much as possible to help the planet to maintain the temperature. In March 2021, CO2 levels reached an all time high in the past 2 million years, and when CO2 gets into the atmosphere, it stays there for 300-1000 years.
There are also numerous pledges and global methane initiatives to decrease methane (CH4) levels as the second-largest greenhouse gas. These levels have risen by almost 10% for the past decade. CH4 is equally as dangerous as CO2; it doesn’t last as long as CO2, but it traps much more heat. As more heat is trapped, the higher the temperature gets. Methane comes mainly from gas production as a byproduct during agriculture, 4% of which is produced during cattle production. Surprise, surprise!
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is known as laughing gas and is up 30% since 1980. N20 stays in the atmosphere for about 114 years. The biggest issue is related to its warming potential. One pound of N2O has a 300x bigger impact than one pound of CO2.
The most significant discovery is hidden in so-called fluorinated F-gases, or to be more precise, sulfur hexafluoride SF6. This gas can stay in the atmosphere for 3,200 years, which is one of the most extended lifespans among all greenhouse gases except for perfluorocarbons (PFCs). Also, sulfur hexafluoride is dangerous because its warming potential is thousands of times higher than carbon dioxide, and its level rose 10% in 2017, just in Europe.
Why should we worry as the concentration is pretty low compared to CO2?
SF6 gas is used for modern ways of electricity production. It is used in devices called switchgear for safety purposes to stop short circuits. Potentially, this gas can become the next challenge for humans once the issue with carbon dioxide is successfully resolved.
As we get to know greenhouse gases better, especially their causes, it is time to understand what can help us solve the problem.
If you are 30+ years old, you should remember the hype around the ozone holes discovered in the mid 1980s and considered a massive threat to the planet. Thanks to the Montreal Protocol signed in 1987, the problem was taken under control: the level of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) declined significantly, and the community declared a victory fighting against the thinning ozone layer. Today it’s a seasonal nature phenomenon. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s working for the minimization of CO2 emissions. At the moment the 2015 Paris Agreement has failed, and only the Gambia looks to be making progress. Hopefully, we will see more proactive actions shortly driven by lawful parties.
High CO2 emissions open up new horizons for businesses. Companies can help cut the level of CO2, create new jobs, and earn trillions of dollars. Here are just some of the potential ideas covered in this article:
- re-injection of CO2 back into the cement manufacturing process;
- liquid fuels production using carbon from the atmosphere;
- algae growth acceleration.
And of course, we, ordinary people, can help improve the situation with the greenhouse emissions, at least by not making it worse.
- Eat less meat, or maybe try some beyond meat options.
- Travel smartly. Remember, flights have a high CO2 value.
- Use only energy, food, clothes, and car rides you need. Less is more.
- Install Sustained plugin and make intelligent purchases.