Causes and effects of global warming (random order)

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.

Global warming solutions – sensible energy consumption

Global warming solutions: Energy mix 2003In search for global warming solutions, people are suddenly asking for alternative energies. However, more than 80% of our energy is currently taken from the fossil sources oil, gas or coal. It is absolutely impossible to supply this much of energy from alternative sources within the next 10 to 20 years.

Therefore, we should first ask how much energy is really required to have  a good quality of life, instead of taking our current energy consumption for granted or even indispensable. In a second step, we can then look for potential energy sources to fulfil this need.

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.

The main cause of global warming

One of the main causes of global warming is our thoughtless treatment of NatureIt took more than 20 years to broadly accept that mankind is causing global warming with the emission of greenhouse gases. The drastic increase in the emission of CO2 (carbon dioxide) within the last 30 years caused by burning fossil fuels has been identified as the major reason for the change of temperature in the atmosphere.

More than 80% of the world-wide energy demand is currently supplied by the fossil fuels coal, oil or gas. It will be impossible to find alternative sources, which could replace fossil fuels in the short or medium term. The energy demand is simply too high.

  • Why have warnings about climate change been ignored for more than 20 years?
  • Why were ever more scientific evidence demanded to find the coherence of man-made CO2 emissions as cause of global warming? Wouldn't common sense have been reason enough to act?

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.

Definition for global warming - what is global warming?

Definition of global warming: Global warming is the observed and projected increases in the average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans. The Earth's average temperature rose about 0.6° Celsius (1.1° Fahrenheit) in the 20th century, see temperature graphs below.

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:   

Global warming - it's about you

Global warming causes: CO2 concentration

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 with regard to geography.

In the past, there was a more or less direct relation between the energy consumption (mainly fossil fuels) and the welfare of a country.

This makes it very difficult to reach consensus between the countries about the required steps to solve the problem. The Kyoto protocol shows that the following of the agreement will be doubtful at best if no automatic sanctions take into effect for countries violating it.

Given the severe consequences of global warming, the above sounds quite hopeless for our future. Read on to see how we all are involved in this and how we can benefit from taking our personal responsibility.

Cause and effects of global warming - IPCC report

IPCC Fourth Assessment Report "Climate Change 2007" about the cause and effects of global warming. This is the report many politicians are currently referring to and calling (at last!) for actions. A summary of the report can be found on the website of IPCC, see here .

The report does not really reveal new information about the causes and effects of global warming. This report however confirms that mankind through the emission of greenhouse gases (in particular carbon dioxide, CO2) is the cause of global warming. Mitigation of global warming will only be possible with a drastic reduction of the world-wide emission of carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide is produced when fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) are burned.

The important thing about this report is the fact that its findings and conclusions have been accepted by hundreds of climate experts and governments world-wide. There is no doubt any more that urgent action is needed, nobody can ignore climate change any more and call global warming "an illusion of greens".

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.

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):

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.

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.

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?

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.

 

CO2 emissions by country

Carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the year 2002

The graph shows the total CO2 emission in million tons by country for the year 2002. Data source was the World Resources Institute (WRI). The CO2 emissions for the year 2006 are about 12 to 15% higher than the figures shown here.

The second chart shows the CO2 emissions by capita and country for the year 2002. Data source was again the World Resources Institute (WRI). Some remarks to these values:

  • The world-wide average is 4 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per person per year
  • The average of all industrialised nations is about 11 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per person per year
  • In the medium and long term, a world-wide average emission of maximum 2 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per person per year must be targeted. This amount is nowadays considered to be the maximum allowed quantity for a sustainable living on earth.
  • The International Energy Institute (IEA) predicts a further increase of the world-wide CO2 emissions by 55% within the next 25 years if no immediate actions to stop global warming are put in place. However, even in their alternative scenario where "... vigorous new policy measures already being contemplated.." are introduced, IEA predicts a growth of the CO2 emissions by 28% compared to 2004!

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)

CO2 - the major cause of global warming

Increase of world temperature
Global warming is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases . 72% of the totally emitted greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), 18% Methane and 9% Nitrous oxide (NOx). Carbon dioxide emissions therefore are the most important cause of global warming.
Recent investigations have shown that inconceivable catastrophic changes in the environment will take place if the global temperatures increase by more than 2° C (3.6° F). A warming of 2° C (3.6° F) corresponds to a carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration of about 450 ppm (parts per million) in the atmosphere.

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: