Climate issues: sources of emissions


Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases, all warm the planet. Most of these planet-warming gases are spewed out for energy, as coal, oil and gas still provide a large portion of the world’s needs. Energy for industries like steel and iron, electricity to turn on lights in homes and buildings, and gas to power cars, ships and planes all pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. air if they do not come from renewable sources. Agricultural practices, such as deforestation and animal husbandry, account for almost a fifth of global emissions. Waste such as landfills, leaks from oil and gas extraction, and processes such as cement manufacturing that produce carbon dioxide as a byproduct also emit greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide accounts for more than three quarters of all human-made greenhouse gases. Methane, mainly from agriculture, coal mining and disturbing peatlands and wetlands that naturally trap the gas, accounts for about 16% of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide from agricultural practices and fluorinated gases from refrigerants make up the rest. Some of these gases stick around longer than others. It is estimated that CO2 can stay in the air for 200 years or more, so coal burned in the early industrial age would still warm the planet today. In contrast, methane, which is much more potent, stays in the atmosphere for about a dozen years. If we want to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius, then “we only have 30 or 50 years” to bring greenhouse gas emissions down to zero,” said Jan Christoph Minx, lead author of the report. IPCC and climatologist.


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