Causes and effects of global warming (most recent articles)

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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?

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.

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".

Is nuclear power a global warming solution?

The contribution of nuclear energy to reduce the cause of global warming is only 10%

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts a strong increase of the carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2030. Additionally, IEA investigated to which extent the above mentioned emissions of CO2 could be prevented if politics applied rigorous measures.

From all measures investigated, nuclear energy was found to have the least effect (only 10%). Almost 80% of the desired effects are due to increasing the energy efficiency.

How to mitigate the cause of global warming

This result is surprising, in particular if you think about how nuclear power is praised as solution to global warming by politicians like George W. Bush and Tony Blair. It seems like they would (again) head into the wrong direction.

Instead of talking about measures to increase the energy efficiency, which accounts for 80% of the effects, some politicians propagandize building nuclear power plants, which according to IEA can only account for 10% of the desired effects. Here the focus is clearly on the wrong subject!

 

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.

Cumulative CO2 emissions by country

The following graph shows the cumulative CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions by country for the years 1900 until 2002. This is the sum of all CO2 emissions in the years 1900 until 2002 for each developed country. Data source was the World Resources Institute (WRI).

On the page link here, you can find the CO2 emissions by country and/or per capita by country .

It does make sense to look at the sum of all CO2 emissions because the lifetime of the greenhouse gases like CO2 in the atmosphere is between 50 and 200 years. The current global warming is an effect of all greenhouse gases put in the atmosphere during the last 100 years, global warming is not just caused by the greenhouse gases emitted this year or last year! This is also one of the reasons why immediate action is required to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, because the effects of the greenhouse gases will last for about 100 years.

What is a carbon footprint - definition

A carbon footprint is defined as:

The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

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!

Prediction of energy consumption world-wide

Prediction of the world-wide energy consumtion by fuel type

According to the American Energy Information Administration (EIA) and to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world-wide energy consumption will on average continue to increase by 2% per year.

A yearly increase by 2% leads to a doubling of the energy consumption every 35 years. This means the world-wide energy consumption is predicted to be twice as high in the year 2040 compared to today (2007).

By far the highest increase in world-wide energy consumption is predicted to be from all three fossil fuels: oil, coal and natural gas (see graph)! The renewable energies are predicted to grow as well, but much less than fossil energies. Nuclear energy is predicted to grow relatively moderate.

We have a serious problem

It is only possible to mitigate global warming if the world-wide consumption of fossil fuels can be drastically reduced in the next 10 to 15 years. There is simply no room for a scenario as it is predicted by the International Energy Agency IEA.

It is also obvious that no combination of alternative technologies can replace the current usage of fossil fuels. There is simply not enough non-fossil fuel available for this. In order to mitigate global warming, we have to use the available energy much more efficiently. But this won't be enough either: We will have to change our behaviour to reduce our personal energy consumption. We must change our current live style and seriously strive for a sustainable living .

Read on for details and background...

 

Solar, not nuclear energy

Regarding "Pros and cons of nuclear power " (2007-01-09), it is surprising that anyone should be considering building new nuclear power plants in the US when there is a simple mature technology available that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.

I refer to 'concentrating solar power' (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and half a million Californians currently get their electricity from this source. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.

Definition of sustainability - what is sustainable?

 

«Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

This is probably the most broadly accepted definition of sustainability developed in 1987, by the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission). Instead of sustainability, often terms like sustainable development, sustainable prosperity or sustainable genuine progress are used. They more or less all mean the same as defined above. Details can be found e.g. in Wikipedia .

Pros and cons of nuclear power

Pros and cons of nuclear power plants

As a result of the current discussion how further global warming could be prevented or at least mitigated, the revival of nuclear power seems to be in everybody's - or at least in many politician's - mind. It it interesting to see that in many suggestions to mitigate global warming, the focus is put on the advantages of nuclear power generation, its disadvantages are rarely mentioned.

Below is a short summary of arguments for and against nuclear power plants.

 

 

Cause and effect for global warming

Almost 100% of the observed temperature increase over the last 50 years has been due to the increase in the atmosphere of greenhouse gas concentrations like water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and ozone. Greenhouse gases are those gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect (see below). The largest contributing source of greenhouse gas is the burning of fossil fuels leading to the emission of carbon dioxide.

Read on and see graphs about the greenhouse effect and global warming caused by the greenhouse effect.

 

 

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.

The benefits of modesty

Does it do any good for Africans suffering from drought if I reduce my personal water consumption? Why should I reduce the CO2 emissions and save energy? Does it reduce starvation anywhere in the world if I eat less?

Living in moderation is «out» because it seems to be full of deprivations and limitations. Read here why it is on the contrary rather full of opportunities for the personal development. It is an indispensable precondition to get in perpetual harmony, joy and (self-)confidence.

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.

Nuclear power for you - nuclear waste for the others?

The need for electricity has constantly risen world-wide over the last years. This is not only true for the so-called developing countries but also and in particular for all well-developed countries. In order to fulfil the demand, obviously additional power plants have to be built.

Which technology is best for generating electricity? This question certainly has to be answered on a case by case base. But it is very concerning that nuclear power plants more and more seem to be chosen as "the" technology of the future.