Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Commonsense Solution to CO2 (Part IV)

After 3 blogs about commonsense ways to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere, it is time to breakdown how much CO2 each individual contributes to the air we breathe. No, I do not believe manmade CO2 is the cause for warmer temperatures, but I do believe too much CO2 can be a health risk.

Today, our atmospheric CO2 saturation level is at 391 parts per million (ppm) – this is measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. That means the saturation level is at about 0.04% in the air we breathe. Carbon Dioxide is lethal, but that does not happen until levels go over 5%. At a 1% saturation level many individuals can start to feel the effects of CO2 such as lightheadedness. Carbon Dioxide concentration levels have gone up from around 310 ppm in 1960 to our current level of 390 ppm over a 50 year time period. Thus, the concentration of CO2 has on average increased by 1.6 ppm per year. Over the past 10 years the concentration level of CO2 has gone up by about 2.1 ppm every year. This makes sense because global population numbers and CO2 concentration levels are directly proportional.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online calculator so each individual can compute their CO2 emissions. In other words, this calculator reveals your carbon footprint. This site is located at: http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html. Here is breakdown of CO2 emissions that each individual is capable of releasing into the atmosphere each year:

  • The energy to produce one Kilowatt-Hour of electricity equates to 2 pounds (lbs.) of CO2 emissions.
  • The energy to produce one Thousand Cubic Foot of natural gas equates to 12 lbs. of CO2 emissions.
  • One gallon of propane equates to 12 lbs. of CO2 emissions.
  • One gallon of oil or gas equates to 20 lbs. of CO2 emissions.
  • The average human emits about 2 lbs. of CO2 per day.

The EPA assumes that the average driver will use about 12 gallons of gas per month and; they will spend 35 dollars a month on natural gas and or; 70 dollars per month on electricity and or; 45 dollars per month on oil and or; 40 dollars per month on propane to heat and cool their homes. The EPA calculator will give individuals credit for recycling their garbage. When all of this is summed up each person will spew about 20,775 lbs. of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. This does include the amount of CO2 each person emits by simply breathing. Breathing amounts to about 5% of the total CO2 we emit each year. My wife and I (combined) emit a total of 15,000 lbs. of CO2 yearly. That is about 75% of what an average person would emit.

Remember, there are 6.6 billion people in the world, and although people around the globe emit much less than the average American, this means there are literally trillions of tons of CO2 being emitting yearly into the air we breathe. These are staggering numbers.

So what is the point of all these statistics? Even if the industrialized world met its climate change objectives by reducing CO2 emissions by 75% by 2050, it still means there will be trillions of tons of CO2 being released into our atmosphere. Even if the world was 100% green by 2050, the 8 billion people (not including animals that also emit CO2) would still emit trillions of tons of CO2 into our atmosphere. This is why cap and trade and liberal energy policies will never solve the CO2 problem. It may slow the increase of CO2 concentration levels in our atmosphere, but this figure will always be on the rise. This is why we need to embrace commonsense techniques being implemented by Lackner and Keith.

My Book: Is America Dying? (Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble)

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