Greenhouse Gases – What you Don’t Know, Part 2

26 Mar 2007 – Significant GHG’s include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane.  Scientific data shows methane in our atmosphere has increased 149% over the past 250 years while CO2 increased 31%.  The methane is a direct result of human activity on our planet, emitting from landfills, feedlots, livestock manure, human and animal waste treatment facilities.  Efforts are underway to tap these significant sources of methane emission – for fuel.  Increased atmospheric concentrations of the GHG methane have paralleled but lagged the following human population explosion of the past 250 years.

Year vs. Human Population
1000  –  10 million
1800  –  1 Billion
1927  –  2 Billion
1960  –  3 Billion
1974  –  4 Billion
1987  –  5 Billion
1999  –  6 Billion
2010  –  ?

(It took millions of years to reach 3 Billion inhabitants; 39 years to get the second 3 Billion)

It is clear where CO2 emissions come from and what influences them, but most of us are unaware that we influence methane and water vapor emissions as well.  In a “GHG contributers” pie, CO2 is but one slice.

If severe greenhouse effects cause severe global warming, wouldn’t an intelligent solution involve reduction of ALL GHG’s, not just CO2?

For example, we can irrigate deserts.  The question is “should we?” – especially since more appropriate places exist where crops are not currently being cultivated.  Localized greenhouse effects due to increased water vapor levels in these normally arid zones contribute to planet heat gain.

In some cases, suggested solutions may not meet our scrutiny.

What percentage of the carbon in ethanol and other biofuels is pulled out of the atmosphere by plants, and what percentage is “mined” by them from the carbon-rich layers of the soil?  What percentage of additional CO2 emissions results from the fermentation process of ethanol?  How much water is “mined” from the ground to produce ethanol?  How much energy is consumed to pump and process the water?  How much fossil fuel is required to cook the plant material when making ethanol?  What additional percentage of CO2 comes from this source?  Is this sustainable, or could we actually reduce overall CO2 emissions by fueling with natural gas instead of ethanol?

For this reason, ethanol may only be a “Bandaid”, but yet help transition us to a multi-faceted, sustainable energy solution such as solar-produced hydrogen.

The effects of our human populations weigh heavily on our environment.  Elimination and reduction of unnecessary and wasteful consumption of resources and products are ways we, as individuals, can address the interconnected issues of environmental sustainability.  As long as we are willing to make the effort.  I will; will you?

Looking out for the planet,

– Lars

Read Part 1 of the article

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: biofuels, carbon dioxide, climate change, Conservation, energy, environment, ethanol, global warming, greenhouse gas, resources, sustainability

3 Comments on “Greenhouse Gases – What you Don’t Know, Part 2”

  1. micpohling Says:

    Nice blog here. Am doing similar kind of thing, but focused more on the numbers and statistic stuff, like I checked out the number of methane increment (149%) and it is true 🙂 -> y1751-696.9 ppbv (ice core) and current 1745 ppbv. Could be a cool place to cross reference 🙂

  2. resourceful Says:

    Thanks for the nice comments, mic. I’ve been rather occupied lately and I apologize for such a timeframe since you posted your comment. I love statistics. I will have to drop by your blog a bunch.

  3. bksummers Says:

    I really like your streight forwrd explanations.

    Butanol looks great as a replacement for gasoline.

    The two-stage anaerobic continuous fermentation process using the waste from cheese making as the raw material is likely to provide a better fuel at a lower cost than ethanol from crops.

    Birney Summers
    The Energy Boomer
    bksummers@att.net
    http://energybommer.typepad.com


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: