Global warming - it's about you


Slowly but surely the information about global warming seems to reach the most obstinate ignorants. Therefore let's sum up the current knowledge:

  • The global warming does indeed exist and it was mainly caused by humankind who is even still accelerating it.
  • From global warming we expect a rise of the average temperature leading to - among other things - melting of glaciers and melting of the polar ice, increase of the mean sea level as well as generally more of extreme weather events and nature disasters like droughts, floods, tornadoes, etc.
  • Only a drastic reduction of the waste gas emissions in the very near future can stop this trend.
  • CO2 (Carbon dioxide) emissions belong to the most important causes of global warming. CO2 is inevitably created by burning fossil fuels like e.g. oil, natural gas, diesel, organic-diesel, petrol, organic-petrol, ethanol.
  • Recent investigations have shown that inconceivable catastrophic changes in the environment will take place as soon as the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reaches the level of about 450 ppm. Today's concentration is already at 380 ppm and it raises on average 2 - 3 ppm each year, so that the critical value will be reached in approximately 25 to 30 years from now. See here for some graphs.
Global warming causes: CO2 concentration

In the past, there was more or less a direct relation between the energy consumption (mainly fossil fuels) and the welfare of a country. This has so far prevented many countries from taking serious actions to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels. As of today however, this relation is not true any more. Germany is a good example of a country where the CO2 emissions have been decreasing for several years despite of a growth of the economy.

In the Kyoto conference many countries have agreed to reduce their CO2 output until the year 2012, on average to 5% below their respective emissions of the year 1990. The USA - as the largest CO2 producer world wide - and most developing countries refused to sign this agreement.


Global phenomena are difficult to reach consensus about

Already today it becomes apparent, that a lot of western countries will largely miss their promises concerning the CO2 reduction. Several signer countries have even increased their CO2 output since the conference.

With this background, discussions have recently started about potential scenarios after the end of the Kyoto agreement, that is after the year 2012. The goal is to move also the USA as well as the developing countries into some sort of obligations.

However, even if it should be possible to sign new, similar agreements for the time after 2012, it is doubtful whether they would be more respected than the ones from Kyoto. This would only be different if sanctions were automatically imposed on those countries, whose CO2 emissions per person still exceed a certain CO2 level after a given transitional period. In the negotiations, each country would of course claim to be qualified for a higher CO2 emission per person than the other countries. Almost any country would fight for an emission level as high as possible. This would of course defeat the original purpose of the reduction agreement.

We are now at the core of the problem: Global warming is a typical global phenomena, where the causer of the emission does not automatically suffer from it himself. Cause and effect are separated both in time as well as geographical.

For non-global phenomena, this is different. Let's for example take a chemical accident with poisons: The immediate environment of the plant will be contaminated, human beings, animals and plants in the close environment are harmed. The damage is almost immediate and clearly visible. For this reason, laws are legislated and strictly imposed for storing and handling of chemical poisons, .


Personal responsibility

If you increase your personal petrol or gas consumption for this year by say 1'000 litres because you use the car more often, will this lead to natural disasters? And if yes, where? Nobody will be able to take you to the court, because it is not possible to prove a direct relation between your increased yearly consumption of fuels and a drought in Africa. This does not change the fact, however, that the CO2 emission produced by your car does indeed contribute to the global warming. No doubt, you and I are responsible for the climate change, too.

The following testimonies are typical:

  • Me alone, I cannot change anything, why should I then change my personal behavior?
  • I respect the laws, I don't do anything illegal. I am not against your saving energy, but leave me in peace with your ideas.
  • My energy requirement is modest. I won't change before the big polluters have changed their behavior.

These declarations share a fundamentally wrong assumption that we are not fully responsible for what we do. But the contrary is true: We are indeed fully responsible for everything we do or do not do! The fact that we don't get fined or taken into prison for certain deeds does by far not mean that these deeds do not have a big impact on our personal future life.


Life is about you and your behaviour (and not about the behaviour of others)

The goal of all human beings is to live in joy and perpetual harmony with oneself and with the environment, to be able to enjoy life free of sorrows and fears. We approach this goal step by step over a series of incarnations. (see here ).

Let's compare this with classes in school or with a study at the university: Based on your performance within the current semester, you can either advance to the next higher level or you will have to repeat the current level until you meet a certain performance criteria. In a similar manner our behaviour in daily life decides whether we approach the above mentioned goal of perpetual harmony with ourselves and with our environment or not.

Hence it should become evident that harming or even destroying nature - i.e. our environment and basis of being - does at the very end hinder ourselves most: We harm or destroy exactly what we eventually wanted to get in unison and harmony with.

In regard of the common rude and thoughtless dealing with nature, the above may sound rather hopeless for our future. For your personal development however, only your personal behavior counts and not the behavior of "average people" or of a certain majority. It's only about you! Therefore it is possible to develop yourself when you limit your negative footprint of your life here on earth (e.g. consumption of resources, pollution of the environment) to an acceptable level. This is your contribution to solving the problem.

On the other hand, it is impossible to get in perpetual harmony with yourself and with your environment if you do not limit your negative footprint to an acceptable level. It is also a matter of respect towards nature and all its creatures.

There is absolutely no reason at all to wait for laws or incentives from the government before you start with your personal contribution. Who, he does this immediately and by free will, will automatically get better conditions for his or her personal future - be it in this or in next incarnations. For the personal development, only decisions made by free will really do count. There will be very little effect on your personal development if you buy a more economic car because you cannot afford the fuel for a larger car any more. However, if you decide to buy a more economic car of your own free will because you want to reduce your negative effects on the environment, as reverence for the nature, then this will certainly have positive effects on your personal future.


Swindling is impossible - personal responsibility cannot be escaped from

Above we mentioned the similarity to a school or university. There is a teacher or professor who judges the students and their exams. However, who does judge our behaviour in our daily life? Who or what does decide about our personal future, how happy and content we are, how secure we feel?

This is exactly that part in ourselves, which makes "life" in us, differentiate human beings from dead material and which shapes our individuality. It is sometimes called "higher self", "spirit", "mind", "soul", "God in us", etc. It is not important how we call this part of us, however it is very important to recognize that it is part of ourselves. Therefore it is impossible to swindle or to escape from the personal responsibility. For you cannot hide anything from yourself!

The analysis and judgement of our decisions is taking place permanently and leads to corrections on our way of life: In order to learn what we are still missing, "life" will in the future confront us with situations that will give us the chance to try again. And it will repeat either in this or in future incarnations until we indeed do learn what we need to learn. (for further information have a look here ).

Take your personal responsibility serious (also) regarding the pollution which your existence and behavior either directly or indirectly creates. You do not only help prevent the earth from collapsing, but you do help yourself, too. If you personally take responsibility, you won't loose anything. On the contrary, you and everybody else is just gaining advantages.

Deeds are more important than words - do start now!


We will make available within a few weeks on this website a simple calculator to calculate your personal contribution to the global warming. The calculator will estimate your so called «carbon footprint» and allow to track it over a period of time. It will take into account travelling activities by public transportation, by car, by air planes, as well as heating with oil, gas, wood, etc. and the consumption of electrical energy.

Most people are shocked when they see how much CO2 they actually produce with their activities!



CO2 carbon and carbon footprint

Whenever you burn fossil fuels like petrol, gas, wood, etc, you inevitably generate the gas CO2 called carbon dioxide. This large emission of carbon dioxide is the main cause of global warming and all its side effects. Our goal must be to burn less fossil fuels for heating and for engines.

CO2 and carbon dioxide are just different names for exactly the same molecule. The CO2 molecule consists of 1 carbon and 2 oxygen atoms, the carbon molecule makes up 27 weight-percent of a carbon dioxide molecule or in other words: 27% of the CO2 molecule is carbon.

Example: If your emission is 100 kg CO2, then you can also say you emitted 27 kg carbon (27% of 100 kg CO2).

Most people calculate their personal carbon dioxide (= CO2) emissions, but some do calculate their carbon (=C) emission. It doesn't really matter what you measure, as long as you know how to convert one into the other. The conversion factors are:

  • convert CO2 (kg) into C: multiply kg CO2 by 0.27
  • convert C into CO2: multiply kg C by 3.70

The confusing thing is that people talk about carbon footprint but normally mean carbon dioxide footprint. So when you compare carbon footprints you should make sure whether both footprints are measured in kg CO2 (= carbon dioxide) or in kg C (carbon). Otherwise you need to use the above mentioned conversion factors.


Burning fossile fuels is bigger problem

Burning wood is usually not that much of a problem because buring wood releases only the same amount of CO2 which has been absorbed when the tree has grown. As long as the "consumption" of wood does not exceed the growth of wood, it is OK. However deforestation is a catastroph. 

Most CO2 emitted by human beings is from burning fossile fuels (oil, gas, etc.). There is the real problem - apart from the above mentioned deforestation.

In some countries, it is possible to substitute wood for heating and/or cooking by solar energy. But this is usually more technology intensive.

What kind of information do you need?


What kind of information do you exactly need? On this site you can already find some if you go to this overview , then scroll down to the header "global warming" and click on the corresponding tags to get the articles.

Let me know if you need additional information.


Global warming contribution of fuels

The best way is to calculate the carbon dioxide emissions based on the fuel consumption. For your convenience, please find below a table of the most common used fuels:

Reading example:

For each gallon (UK) of petrol fuel consumed, 10.4 kg carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted.

fuel type unit
CO2 emitted per unit
Petrol 1 gallon (UK)
10.4 kg
1 liter
2.3 kg
Gasoline  1 gallon (US)
8.7 kg
Gasoline  1 liter
2.3 kg
Diesel 1 gallon (UK)
12.2 kg
Diesel  1 gallon (US)
9.95 kg 
1 liter
2.7 kg
Oil (heating)
1 gallon (UK)
13.6 kg
Oil (heating)  1 gallon (US)
11.26 kg 
Oil (heating)
1 liter 3 kg


As a very general rule of thumb, you can can assume that travelling by car does produce at least 3 times as much carbon dioxide as travelling the same distance by public transportation (train, bus, tram).

Flying does produce about the same quantity of carbon dioxide as if you'd drive the same distance by car. But the negative effects caused by the emissions in the high atmosphere are 3 times higher than those from the emissions of the car.

You can draw the following conclusions for global warming effects:

  • It is always best to travel by public transportation
  • Travelling by car harms the environment 3 times as much as travelling by public transportation
  • Travelling by plane (flying) harms the environment 3 times as much as travelling by car and 9 times as much as travelling by public transportation (train, bus).

We are planning to bring on line a calculator for the carbon footprint about end of January 07. This carbon footprint calculator will then allow for detailed analysis and tracking of the personal contribution to global warming.


Calculate CO2 emissions by fuel


You can calculate the values yourself with some basic knowledge of chemistry. Let's demonstrate this for diesel fuel:

Diesel is a mixture of so-called saturated and aromatic hydrocarbons, the average chemical formula for common diesel fuel is often assumed C12H26, but it compounds range from about C10H22 to C15H32.

Burning fuel is called an oxidation process. To make it simple, we assume C12H26 as chemical formula for diesel fuel. Then the following chemical reaction takes place:

2 C12H22 + 37 O2 → 26 H2O + 24 CO2

The above equation says: From 2 moles of C12H22 (= diesel fuel) you get 24 moles of CO2 (carbon dioxide). The molecular weight of C12H22 is 170 g / mole and for CO2 it is 44 g / mole. So the above equation also says: When you burn (oxidise) 340 g diesel (2 * 170) you get 1'056 g CO2 (24 * 44). Since diesel has a density of about 850 g per liter, burning 1 liter of diesel creates 850 / 340 * 1'056 g CO2 = 2'640 g CO2.

In the table above you find the value of 2'700 g CO2 per liter diesel instead of 2'640 g, the little difference is because for the calculation of the values in the table above I used a more sophisticated assumption for the chemical formula of diesel.

For all other fuels, you can do a similar calculation. As mentioned above, there is no "source" needed, just some knowledge of chemistry is enough. You can find many results in our offline carbon footprint calculator. Values, which I have not computed myself should be referenced in the comments within the Excel sheet (mouse over the red dots).


CO2 emission of fuels / evidence base

How much CO2 does burning of 1 liter petrol produce?


I have shortened the article you included in your comment to make it easier to read. Stern report is right: It is indeed normal and correct that burning 1 kg of fossil fuel produces more than 1 kg of carbon dioxide (actually 2.3 kg CO2 for 1 litre of petrol or 3.1 kg CO2 per kg of petrol). The specitic gravity of petrol used in vehicles is 737 g per litre.

Burning fuels like e.g. petrol is a chemical reaction of petrol with oxygen (O2) which releases energy and creates carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). The oxygen is mostly taken from the air (combustion air).

Petrol + Oxygen --> Energy + CO2 + H2O

This specific reaction is also called oxidation (oxi from oxygen). From the total weight of CO2, only 27% is carbon (which is taken from petrol) and the remaining 63% of the weight is from oxygen (which is mostly taken from the air). This does explain how burning of 1 kg of petrol can generate 3.1 kg of carbon dioxide. 

If the oxidation process (burning fuel) is not performed under optimal conditions, additional hazardous compounds like e.g. NOx, HCx, etc. may be created. Some of them can be removed or transformed into less hazardous compounds with efficient treatment of the exhaust gas (catalysts, particulate filter, etc.).


Should fluorescent lights be switched off?

In the start-up phase, fluorescent lights use more energy than when they are running continuously, so it is not a good advice to keep switching them on or off every few seconds.

However if you don't need a fluorescent light for more than 1-2 minutes, it actually saves energy to switch it off. Modern fluorescent lights, with narrower tubes (T8 or T15) and electronic starters generally should left on unnecessarily for no more than a minute or so.


Your global warming documentry

No problem. You are welcome to re-use ideas from our site! For details about the copyright see here


Juerg Rohrer

Required Changes

The personal changes required are simple - we all need to cut out any fossil fuel emissions that we can possibly avoid.

Here is a brief list of suggestions:

Stop flying.
Stop driving.
Turn down the heating. Put on a jumper. Or turn up the A/C.
Only eat local organic food. Reduce meat to once a week.
Buy less stuff.
Use less electricity. Buy renewable electricity or generate your own Stop wasting water.

If everyone does all of these things, we have a chance of preventing catastrophe. For more details see:

It is possible and in my experience it has lead to a happier and more fulfilled life.