Carbon Emissions in the Atmosphere and the Methods of Abating Emissions

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October 5, 2021
Carbon Emissions in the Atmosphere and the Methods of Abating Emissions

The level that carbon emissions have reached in the atmosphere is alarming to the point of climate emergencies, weather that is wiping out species and ecosystems, and has gone so far that we actually need to offset what is already in the atmosphere, on top of eliminating future emissions.

Approximately 78% of the earth's atmosphere is nitrogen, 21% is oxygen, and 1% is made up of other gases like neon, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. Imbalances in substances can harm the environment. Too many of certain elements can intoxicate the environment while not enough of the ones needed in the atmosphere can lead to deprivation of food supply and more.

percentage of gases in earth's atmosphere

The sources of GHGs go beyond just CO2, which makes up 76% of all GHG emissions globally, which is the reason we are concentrating on eradicating CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

global greenhouses gas emissions by gas

Economic sources of carbon emissions

Almost all global warming since 1850 is the result of human activities. And still, global emissions haven't yet peaked in most places. While nations are striving to achieve policies that combat pollution in many forms, CO2 has its own sphere of acts attempting to control quantities produced per year with carbon credits.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and hence global warming. Heat, electricity, and transportation are the main reasons for most fossil fuel burning by human beings. We'll look at some United States 2019 statistics from the US EPA to show the main sources of carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide has lessened slightly from transitioning to renewables and natural gas with less carbon.

us greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 by economic sector
  • Transportation makes up 29% of GHGs which is the largest part. More than 90% of fuel for various transportation is from petroleum, like gasoline and diesel. Coal combustion is even worse than burning natural gas or petroleum which aren't good either.
  • Electricity accounted for 25% of emissions in the form of coal or natural gas.
  • Industry causes 23% of emissions from using energy.
  • Commercial and residential sources are 13% of the problem using heat and handling waste.
  • Agriculture makes up about 10% of emissions from livestock, mostly cows but others as well, soils that aren't regenerative, and rice production.
  • Land and forest account for 12% but they are a sink for carbon dioxide which they absorb.

Effects

Anytime burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) or biological materials like trees or waste happens, CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere and along with methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and water vapor, and traps heat from the sun causing global warming. Climate change is the result of this causing unnecessary warming to polar ice caps which kills entire ecosystems, affects food for wildlife, contributes to severe droughts, wildfires, and even tropical storms. Some and certainly not all of the specific effects include:

  • Crops lose necessary nutrients like zinc and protein when the atmosphere has imbalances in nitrogen and carbon.
  • Endangered and extinct animal species from lack of food (plants and animals in the food chain) due to hotter temperatures and dying ecosystems that cause starvation.
  • Higher risk for respiratory diseases from smog and pollution from low air quality in certain regions.
  • Floods have killed hundreds of people this year alone from extreme rainfall that happened as a result of overheating the atmosphere.
  • Heatwaves in regions not equipped to deal with hotter weather are harming ecosystems and making high-risk people like infants and the elderly sick and sometimes causing death.
  • The polar ice caps are melting which causes sea levels to rise (7-8 inches since 1900), losing the Arctic sea rate of 13% by decade, the oldest and thickest ice decreased by 95% in the past 30 years and if we don't stop global warming now, the Arctic will have no ice by 2040.
  • Since the Arctic cools the world from over warming by reflecting heat back into space and it has been disrupted, the heatwaves will intensify worldwide and the winters will be colder from Arctic winds.
  • The Greenland Ice Sheet melted at 1 million tons per minute in 2019 which means sea levels will continue to rise.
  • Storm surges and hurricanes are destroying coastal cities and fishing communities that thrive on island life.

Methods for abating emissions

Every economic sector is adjusting to policies that are put in place to get to net zero by 2050 or before. Part of those policies is allowing carbon credits that decrease every year in order to abate emissions. While each nation, company, and person is responsible for their own reduction strategies, being able to calculate, track, and offset them is part of the strategy until fossil fuels are replaced completely. This is where Net0 comes in as a software platform that does it all by the data that is input by colleagues and vendors. Any sector can benefit from the platform as we use more than one type of emission on a day-to-day basis. Net0 is designed with that in mind so the data received is measured accurately and companies don't need to go out finding agencies in order to search for offsetting projects. It's all in the platform already so you know the projects chosen are certified and can choose the ones that are most needed and most important to you.

Net0 also gives insight as to abating emissions in the future based on data you give, with its intuitive AI core. It goes beyond a system of record to be flexible as you go on the journey to net zero. Some of the things different sectors can do to reduce emissions in the long term could be:

Electricity

  • In the electricity sector, improving efficiency by using less energy and materials is one way to abate emissions.
  • Another way is to switch to renewable energy sources. Even switching from coal to gas for a time is a better solution as gas emits less CO2, until an alternative can be used.

Food and agriculture

  • Food production and agriculture can decrease CO2 emissions by reducing meat and dairy, especially beef.
  • Substituting with chicken or fish still emits carbon, but less.
  • Regenerative agriculture with regenerative soil usage improves the environment drastically and is a great help in combating global warming. Sequestering massive amounts of CO2 emissions, it is an inexpensive and organic way to change the atmosphere for the better.
  • Sustainable intensification for increasing crop production without damaging the environment with strategic planning. This prevents deforestation and improves ecosystems while using less land.
  • 6% of GHG emissions are caused by food waste. While much of it is from the end-consumer, a little over half of that is lost in supply chains. Spoiled food in processes or waste in restaurants and hotels could be improved for a more sustainable future. Transparency in the supply chain, especially food, has been in increasing demand lately not only for health purposes but for best working practices regarding the environment and the workers. Regenerative agriculture, transparency, and not throwing away undesirable-looking fruits and vegetables because of their shape will be helpful in the process.

Transportation

  • Using electric transport or running off liquid natural gas (LNG) emits less carbon than traditional petroleum gasoline and diesel.
  • Electric vehicle sales will account for 73% of abatement in the USA in the future. They plan on decarbonizing new transportation in the future by not selling petroleum-burning vehicles anymore. They will have to do it soon to get to net zero by 2050.

Okay, now what?

Let's take action against carbon emissions together. Every individual and business can do their share but at first, you need to know how much carbon you're producing. After seeing detailed harmful effects on the earth and atmosphere and ways to abate them, we can start moving forward towards strategies to decrease carbon emissions and at the same time track and offset them with Net0. Request a demo today and see how much easier it is to achieve carbon neutrality with a reliable and accurate software system.

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