Monday, November 30, 2009

What are Green House Gas (GHG) emissions?

With Copenhagen round the corner and the world is waiting with baited breath regarding the outcome of the conference – its time to acquaint ourselves with GHG emissions.

With plenty of literature on estimation of carbon footprint, green house gas emissions, people are bombarded with climate change jargon. However the basics are unclear in minds of many. Many people have yet to grasp how they are responsible for GHG emissions. Simply put green house gases are mainly CO2, CH4, N2O, and other halogenated carbon group gases. These gases are produced as a result of burning of fuels or generated as a result of chemical processes. The question arises in our minds is that apart from the 2/4 wheeler I do not burn any fuel….then how can I be responsible for other emissions. If I stop using my car, then will I be not responsible for any emissions..isn’t it??

Energy is required for work that is performed by humans. Energy is obtained mainly by burning of fossil fuels – the other sources being energy is solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and nuclear. Every action performed in our daily life generates green house gases in two ways directly or indirectly. Direct emission are as a result of burning fuels which at sources owned by you – for example – your car. Indirect emissions are a result of emission produced by sources which are not owned by you – for example emissions as a result of use of electricity or use of products which generate emissions at source, during transportation etc.

So now, it will start seeping in that, anything I do on this earth which uses a wee bit of energy, I will be responsible for anthropogenic (man-made) carbon emissions.

Then how on earth are nations all over the world thinking about reducing the manmade CO2 emissions and curbing it at a level which will limit the heating of the earth’s atmosphere? Curbing CO2 emissions will mainly through rethinking of our current sources of energy and concentrating on using renewable sources of energy, improved energy efficiency. The other aspect is that of find ways to remove GHG gases from the atmosphere(in the form of carbon sinks, carbon reservoirs etc). 

Now that you know how each one of us is responsible, you can make a difference through your green efforts. Each green action will translate into carbon emissions avoided.

Hope this post has helped in understanding the hulabaloo about GHG emissions!

CIAO till the next post


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