Causes and effects of global warming (most recent articles)

Below is a short summary for all articles related to climate change. Click on a title in the list to read the full article. To re-sort the list click on a tab above. If you can't find what you are looking for, try Search in the main menu above.

Stopping global warming is risk management

The issue with stopping or reducing global warming is about risk and managing risk: Science still does not know the exact mechanism by which smoking and its associated chemicals causes cancer. What we do know is that smoking is the biggest risk factor in developing lung cancer. The more you smoke, the more your risk of getting lung cancer. Not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer, and not everyone who gets lung cancer has smoked.

What is thermosolar power or concentrating solar power (CSP)?

What is thermosolar power, or "desert energy"? Thermosolar energy means generating electricity from the heat of the sun, and not, as photovoltaic panels do, from sunlight. Since a large quantity of solar heat is required, evidently this must be done in the desert. A short introduction in this promising technology to produce electricity from a renewable source:

Eat less meat: CO2 emission of our food

The carbon dioxide emissions (carbon footprint) caused by our personal behavior is driven to a large extent by the type and quality of our nourishment. The amount of greenhouse gases caused by the production of food is different from one food type to the other (see table below). Worst is meat and in particular beef.

A environmental friendly and climate change friendly nourishment is characterised as follows:   

Plastic bags and plastic bottles - CO2 emissions during their lifetime

A number of people have asked about the implications of using plastic bags on the personal carbon footprint as well as on the environment in general. There are some comparisons between paper bags and plastic bags available which clearly show that it all depends on how many times these plastic or paper bags are being used. 

Littering is probably the severest problem related to plastic bags. Nevertheless let's now have a look at the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for the production and incineration of plastic bags.

Are cows the cause of global warming?

A cow does on overage release between 70 and 120 kg of Methane per year. Methane is a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide (CO2). But the negative effect on the climate of Methane is 23 times higher than the effect of CO2. Therefore the release of about 100 kg Methane per year for each cow is equivalent to about 2'300 kg CO2 per year.

CO2 emission of electricity from nuclear power stations

How much CO2 is produced by atomic energy?

One of the few pros of nuclear power is the relatively low emission of carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the major causes of global warming. For this reason, it has been proposed as "the" method to mitigate the effects of climate change. However a recent life cycle analysis showed that nuclear power produces 4 to 10 times higher CO2 emissions per kWh electricity than renewable energies.

Investments in sustainable energies

Invest in renewable energies - not in fossile «Aiding oil, harming the climate» is a new report from the organisation "Oil Change International", which shows dramatically that the major investments still go into the oil, gas and coal sector instead of renewable energies. For more than 25 years, wealthy countries have been using aid and other foreign assistance to subsidize the expansion of the international oil industry, a practice known as “Oil Aid”. It is impossible to actively subsidize the expansion of the oil industry and effectively fight global warming at the same time.

CO2 concentration causing global temperature increase

There is no doubt any more: In order to mitigate global warming, the emission of greenhouse gases must be reduced, the sooner the better. This will then lead to a stabilization of the greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere - and in the very long term hopefully to a decrease of its concentration.The level at which the greenhouse gas concentration gets stabilized does determine the warming effect, i.e. the temperature increase.

The following graph shows the relation between the greenhouse gas concentration (expressed as CO2-equivalents) and the resulting average global temperature increase on the surface.

Radiation wavelength and greenhouse effect

This article tries to answer a question about the greenhouse effect: "Greenhouse gases prevent the infrared rays from leaving the Earth's atmosphere, but why do they not prevent additional solar radiation from entering the atmosphere?"

The key is the different wavelength (or different frequency) of solar light and infrared light. Let's have a look at the greenhouse effect (see also the graph about radion transmitted by atmosphere below):

CO2 emissions for shipping of goods

Globalization makes it easy to send goods around the world. The cost for shipping goods has never been as low as now. However, the choice of the means of transportation does severely influence the amount of CO2 emitted for the transportation of goods.
The following table shows the amount of CO2 (in grams) emitted per metric ton of freight and per km of transportation:

Ocean acidification - another effect of global warming

Fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes release over six billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year. The consequences of these greenhouse gas emissions are often discussed in terms of rising global temperatures, but global warming is not the only threat from increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2). Ocean acidification, which occurs when CO2 in the atmosphere reacts with water to create carbonic acid, has already increased ocean acidity by 30 percent. Although the chemistry of this effect is well understood and not much debated, the full consequences of ocean acidification for marine ecosystems and human well-being are only beginning to be revealed.

Global carbon cycle and climate change

Life processes are fuelled by carbon compounds which are oxidized to CO2 (carbon dioxide), the latter is exhaled by all animals and plants. Conversely, CO2 is assimilated by plants during photosynthesis to build new carbon compounds. See also this comment about photosynthesis and global warming.

Carbon footprint howto

Before you can start calculating your personal carbon footprint, you must create a user account on http://timeforchange.org. Don't worry, your email address won't be given away or misused.

Offline Carbon footprint calculator

The attached Excel sheet can be used to calculate both CO2 emissions as well as primary energy requirements for the following activities:

  • Heating with oil, gas, coal, wood, solar energy or heat pumps
  • Electricity consumption. The actual mix of power generation (coal, oil, natural gas, wood, nuclear energy, hydro energy, solar energy, wind, geothermal or waste) is taken into consideration.
  • Travelling by car for diesel and petrol fuelled cars. Either by actual fuel consumption or by distance and average fuel consumption.
  • Travelling by bus (kilometres or miles)
  • Travelling by train (kilometres or miles)

Renewable energy going strong for Germany

German manufacturers of wind farms were able to consolidate their dominant position on the international market in 2005, says the German Energy Agency (DENA) in a press release on its renewable energy initiatives. With an increase of 55% in exports, reaching 2.87 billion Euro, they acquired 38% of the global market. According to market indicators the 2005 export quota has increased to reach 71%. The growing use of renewable energy sources in North America and Asia helped the German renewable energy industry to take the lead in almost all technology sectors.

Get a feeling how mitigation of global warming can be affected

 

Run your own simulations of global warming with the attached spreadsheets!

Is prevention of global warming possible? Or is only mitigation of global warming possible? How fast do changes in the carbon dioxide emissions affect the average temperature increase? What are the effects of some proposed global warming solutions?

Global warming effects - mitigate temperature increase

Global warming solution with 1.9% reduction of CO2 emissions per year

We show the urgent need to act in order to be able to mitigate global warming. For this purpose, we simulate different scenarios for the future emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and calculate their effect on the rise of the average temperature on Earth.

As a result, it still seems to be possible to avoid the most devastating effects on our environment. However we must start acting immediately. The longer we are talking instead of acting, the more drastic measures are needed.

Global warming is not about the others, global warming is about us and our personal behaviour . Everyone must assume responsibility and bring down his or her personal contribution .

 

Nuclear power phase-out pros and cons

Nuclear phase-out means the discontinuation of usage of nuclear power for electrical energy production. Usually because of concerns about nuclear energy, existing plants are either shut down or not renewed after being retired.

Many European countries have decided to phase-out nuclear power, for details see further below. Under the umbrella of global warming, lobbying organizations of the atomic industry are putting high pressure on several governments to postpone the planned shut down of nuclear power stations or even to cancel the phase-out altogether. Their main argument is the relatively low CO2 emission of nuclear power compared to fossil fuels coal, oil and natural gas. However nuclear energy should rather be compared to sustainable energies and not to fossils.

The general pros and cons of nuclear power are discussed on a separate page. Here we concentrate on the pros and cons of nuclear phase-out.

Growing world population

One of the major problems for our future is the ever growing number of people living on Earth. We are referring to this in several articles on this site. Below you can find first a graph about the population by geographical area and by year, starting in 1950 until the year 2050.

The second graph shows the population density by geographical area by year, i.e. the number of people living per square kilometre. Further down, we provide lists of the current and predicted population by country. Click on one of the links below to jump directly to a list or graph:

About the cost advantage of nuclear energy

Electricity from nuclear energy is considered to be economical and very cost effective, in particular compared to electricity from renewable energy sources like wind, water, sun, biomass or geothermal energy.

There are two main reasons for the relative low cost of nuclear power:

  • Research and development for nuclear applications has been financed by the government, therefore these costs don't get transferred to the cost of electricity produced from nuclear power. However the cost of R&D for renewable energy sources is mostly financed privately and therefore added to the production cost. It is therefore included in the cost of renewable electricity.
  • Nuclear power plants are underinsured for legal liability. The risk for nuclear catastrophes is not carried by the owner of the nuclear power plant, it is carried by the whole nation. Electricity from nuclear power would cost at least twice as much than today if operator companies of nuclear power plants were to insure the plants for the real risks.