Novo: To Refresh-Keeling Curve Edition

Posted: February 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

I am taking the “to refresh” phrase and applying it to out environment, and I think it is fitting. Our natural environment is beautiful and sustainable, when left alone at least. In this post, we will not explore climate change but rather take a look only a basic concept. Have you heard of the Keeling Curve? Well, if not then we will learn it at its most basic level.

Charles Keeling was an atmospheric scientist that worked on understanding atmospheric carbon during the 1960s. The impact of the curve is that it shows how over time the carbon levels in the atmosphere has been on an increasing trend, and is projected to continue. So, pretty simply it provides the insight that regardless of what we personally think about climate change or environmental protection or anything else, we actually do have rising carbon dioxide levels. Up to date, we are just under 400 ppm (parts per million) which is up significantly from the 1960s. Take a look at the image of included and notice how much these levels have increased.
Okay, so it is rising. How come?

Well, let’s first look at the U.S. and where our emissions come from. The EPA shows the breakdown of where emissions come from, and so we know where we can focus attention.  Fossil fuels are a significant reason for the emissions and coal, oil, and natural gas (in that order) are the common sources used. Coal is the dominant source of electricity in the U.S., we touched on oil as the dominant source for transportation in another post, and natural gas is a rising source due to its availability and economical reasons. Natural Gas is an important source for us, because of the role it will need to play in developing a sustainable energy driven world in the future. We will touch on it in detail in another post. Interested in comparing the emissions by source?
What about emissions by country? China is now the world’s leader in emissions, with the U.S. in second followed by the EU, India and Russia. The most important thing we need to understand in our journey to clean energy and a refreshed environment is that within that list, there are both developed and developing countries. Our next post regarding the “to refresh” idea will be about this relationship between a clean environment and both developed and developing countries. Until then, I urge you to look into some of the details involved with this, perhaps look into the Kyoto Protocol and other international climate initiatives. A key obstacle in our journey to a cleaner world is this relationship between developed and developing nations and so we need to have a proper grasp of this issue.


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