Carbon dioxide

CO2, carbon dioxide

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.

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.

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)