ECON 330 Directions – Start Project 1

ECON 330 Directions – Start Project 1

ECON 330 Directions – Start Project 1

Greenhouse gases are emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere through natural and human-made means. By trapping energy from the sun, these gases warm the planet. The main greenhouse gases in the United States are carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), ozone (O3), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). There are many ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing energy consumption, investing in renewable energy sources, and improving vehicle fuel efficiency (Shaheen, 2020). Other strategies include capturing escaped methane from landfills and other industrial processes, managing forests to store more carbon dioxide, and reduced deforestation. The purpose of this assignment is to address issues around discovering climate change indicators in the United States, greenhouse gases, zero pollution goal and economic efficiency, and EPA carbon footprint calculator and reflection.

Part 1: Climate Change Indicators in the United States—Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse Gases

Definition of Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases are gases that trap energy from the sun in Earth’s atmosphere. This trapped energy makes the Earth’s atmosphere warm, and disturbs the Earth’s climate. It is important to study, track, and reduce greenhouse gases because they contribute to global warming, which can cause extreme weather conditions and other disasters around the world.

Major Long-Lived Greenhouse Gases

The major long-lived greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These gases are harmful because they trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise. The process is called greenhouse effect, and it is a significant contributor to climate change (Shaheen, 2020). CO2 is produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as by deforestation. Methane is produced by activities such as livestock farming and the extraction of fossil fuels. Nitrous oxide is produced by the use of synthetic fertilizers and the burning of fossil fuels. CFCs were previously used in refrigeration and air conditioning, but have been phased out due to their role in depleting the ozone layer.

Primary Sources of Greenhouse Gases Emissions

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are: Electric power sector: 28%, Transportation sector: 29%, Industry sector: 22%, Agriculture sector: 9%, and Buildings sector: 12%. It is important to note that the percentages may vary slightly depending on the year and the data source (Lamb et al., 2021).

Amount of greenhouse gases Emitted by United States

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s climate indicators website, the United States emitted 6,517 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2019, which is the most recent year for which data is available.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data Explorer questions

Emission by Transport Industry

According to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, in 2020, the transportation sector in California was

ECON 330 Directions - Start Project 1
ECON 330 Directions – Start Project 1

responsible for approximately 181.3 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. This accounted for 39% of the state’s total emissions. When looking at the trend over time, emissions from the transportation sector in California have generally been on the rise. From 1990 to 2020, emissions have increased by approximately 30%. However, there has been a slight decrease in emissions from 2016 to 2018, but it has risen again in 2019 and 2020 (Ward, 2021). It is important to note that the transportation sector includes emissions from on-road vehicles, non-road vehicles and equipment, and aircraft. The majority of emissions in this sector come from on-road vehicles.

Major Greenhouse Gases Emitted by Transport Industry

According to the data on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program Inventory Data Explorer, the major greenhouse gas emitted by California’s transportation sector is carbon dioxide (CO2). The data shows that emissions of CO2 from this sector have been increasing over time. Specifically, CO2 emissions from the transportation sector in California increased by 1990 to 2020, emissions have increased by approximately 30% (Liu et al., 2019).

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Exploring Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Top Five Greenhouse Gases Emitted By Human Activities in the World

Greenhouse gases produced by human activities are one of the major contributors to global warming. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the top five greenhouse gases emitted by humans are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), fluorinated gases (F-gases), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Carbon dioxide is released mostly through burning coal, oil, natural gas, gasoline, and wood and is a principal component in our atmosphere (Ritchie et al., 2020). Methane can be emitted through waste management processes and the use of fossil fuel. Nitrous oxide is released through agricultural practices, while fluorinated gases are found in refrigerators and air conditioning. Lastly, sulfur hexafluoride is another human-made gas that has an extremely high potential of global warming effects because of its ability to trap heat for long durations. All these gases contribute to global climate change and therefore must be monitored properly if we want to maintain an Earth suitable for future generations.

Global Emissions by Economic Sector

According to the Global Carbon Project, the top five economic sectors in terms of greenhouse gas emissions are: Energy – primarily from the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and heat, Industry – including emissions from manufacturing, construction, and mining, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU), Buildings – emissions from heating and cooling of buildings, Transportation – emissions from cars, trucks, ships, and airplanes.

Climate change is a critical challenge that we face today and the Global Carbon Project has identified five economic sectors responsible for most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. These are energy production – primarily from burning fossil fuels for electricity and heat generation; industry, including emissions from manufacturing, construction, and mining; agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU); buildings – emissions from heating and cooling of buildings; and transportation – emissions from cars, trucks, ships, and airplanes. It’s important to be aware that the composition of greenhouse gas emitting sectors may differ between countries and regions in addition to shifts over time. Therefore, understanding precisely where our GHG emissions come from is vital to finding ways to mitigate climate change.

Analysis of the Global Carbon Emissions Trend from Fossil Fuels

The daily burning of fossil fuels for transportation and energy production has resulted in a dramatic increase of carbon emissions into the atmosphere over the last century. The Global Carbon Project, who tracks this data annually, estimates that 2019 marked another record high with 37.1 billion tons of carbon released around the world. Although this represented only a 0.6% rise from 2018 figures, that tiny change is nevertheless significant when considering the magnitude of total emissions worldwide (Mohammed et al., 2021). Much of the focus can be put on the energy sector and transportation sector as the main sources of these emissions; coal and natural gas are routinely burned for power, while cars and airplanes are major contributors to carbon release from transportation. When breaking these statistics down further, it appears that China, United States, and India account for the majority of global emissions from fossil fuels. Sadly, this trend does not look encouraged to slow down anytime soon without considerable efforts to reduce fuel consumption in all forms.

Analysis of the Emission by Country

Fossil fuel combustion, of which China is the world’s biggest emitter, releases pollutants including greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which have been linked to climate change globally. The United States is the second-highest emitter, while India, Russia and Japan also contribute a significant amount and account for more than half of global emissions. This reiterates the importance of unlocking new solutions to reduce emissions in these countries to limit their environmental impacts and in turn help protect our planet for future generations.

Part 2: Zero Pollution Goal and Economic Efficiency

President Joe Biden’s ambitious national climate target is expected to have a momentous impact on the US economy. By setting the goal of halving carbon emissions by the end of the decade, this target reinforces that economic efficiency is achievable when planned and implemented properly. This will also encourage entrepreneurs to discover more cost-effective ways for businesses to become more sustainable. Additionally, a plan for net zero emissions by 2050 will benchmark a new standard of financial planning and execution—one which takes into account long-term sustainability goals backed by meaningful investments in renewable energy sources. Overall, these goals demonstrate a responsible commitment towards tackling climate change while allowing the American economy to thrive sustainably well into the future. However, attaining these goals may come with different challenges.

From the point of observation of economic efficacy, eliminating all carbon emissions would be incredibly costly and likely not achievable in the short term. In order to achieve this goal, significant changes would need to be made to the way in which energy is produced and used, as well as how goods and services are produced and consumed. This would likely involve transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources, as well as implementing policies to encourage energy efficiency and conservation. However, these changes would come with a significant economic cost (Baumeister, 2019). Transitioning away from fossil fuels would likely involve significant investments in new infrastructure and technology, which would raise the cost of energy for consumers. Additionally, the implementation of policies to encourage energy efficiency and conservation would likely raise the cost of goods and services, as businesses would need to invest in new equipment and technologies.

Additionally, it is important to consider that carbon emissions are not the only form of pollution, and it is not always clear that reducing carbon emissions will lead to reductions in other forms of pollution. For example, switching from coal-fired power plants to natural gas-fired power plants can lead to significant reductions in carbon emissions, but may lead to increased emissions of other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides. Furthermore, it is important to consider the distributional impacts of climate policies. While reducing carbon emissions may be efficient in the aggregate, the costs of these policies will likely be unevenly distributed across different groups of people, and these distributional impacts must be taken into account when evaluating the overall efficiency of a policy.

In summary, while reducing carbon emissions is an important goal from the perspective of addressing climate change, it would come with a significant economic cost, and it’s important to consider the trade-offs involved in pursuing this goal. The economic efficiency point of view suggests that it would be more desirable to pursue more targeted and cost-effective policies that focus on reducing emissions in key sectors, rather than trying to eliminate all carbon emissions.

Setting in Which Zero Pollution Might Be Efficient

In a closed-loop, self-sustaining ecosystem, pollutants are efficiently managed since the environment operates with minimal external inputs. The recycling of waste and continual usage of material to support the environment means there is no need for energy consumption or emission of harmful substances, thereby eliminating the occurrence of pollution. Examples of such ecosystems could be a biosphere, where ecological systems are studied in a controlled setting free from external elements, or a space station that is designed to keep humans and plants inside a self-contained habitat with built-in recycling functions. These come with many benefits and successfully meet the challenge of creating an efficient environment with zero pollution.

Part 3: EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator and Reflection

The EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator estimates that the average American household emits 17,000 pounds of CO2 annually. Of that amount, 5,700 pounds comes from home energy use, 4,400 pounds from transportation emissions, and 6,000 pounds from waste emissions. While it is important to take steps to reduce our carbon footprint wherever we can, it is especially important to focus on reducing home energy use and transportation emissions. These two sources together account for more than 60% of the average household’s carbon footprint. Waste emissions are an important area to focus on as well, since they account for nearly one-third of the average household’s carbon footprint. By taking steps to recycle and compost as much as possible.

Exploring Household Current Emissions from Home Energy,

Transportation, and Waste

Household current usage:

Natural Gas: $250

Electricity: $150

Fuel Oil: 200

Propane: $130

From the EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator,

 

My Carbon Footprint

Annual CO2 emissions (lbs.)

Your Current Total:

64,231

New Total After
Your Planned Actions:

64,231

U.S. Average*:

46,851

*for a household of 3 people in Zip Code 90650

Ways How to Reduce my Current Carbon Emissions

There are several ways to reduce carbon emissions for a household that uses natural gas, electricity, fuel oil, and propane: Use energy-efficient appliances and lighting: This can help to reduce the amount of energy used in the home, which in turn can lower carbon emissions. Insulating home: Proper insulation can help to keep the home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, which can reduce the need for heating and cooling. Use of renewable energy sources: Consider installing solar panels or a wind turbine to generate electricity, or switch to a green energy provider that uses renewable sources to generate electricity. Reduce, reuse, and recycle: Minimizing the amount of waste produced in the household can help to reduce the amount of energy required to dispose of it. Planting trees: Trees absorb carbon dioxide and other pollutants and can help to mitigate the effects of climate change (Breuer et al., 2021). Use of public transport, carpool, bike or walk: Transportation is a significant source of carbon emissions, reducing the use of personal vehicles can lower the carbon footprint.

Comparison of Carbon Footprint with National Average

On average, CO2 emissions are 46,851 per month. However, my current total is 64,231. Therefore my current carbon footprint is greater than the national average, hence the need to take appropriate steps to reduce carbon emission.

Lessons Learned from the Assignment

There are a few things that I learned from this project about carbon footprint and the calculation using EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator. First, I learned that there are many different factors that go into calculating one’s carbon footprint, including transportation, food, energy, and waste. Second, I learned how to use the EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator and found it to be a fairly user-friendly tool. And finally, I think that I could apply what I learned in this project in the workplace by helping my company become more environmentally conscious and sustainable. In everyday life, I think that I could apply what I learned by being more mindful of the choices that I make when it comes to transportation, food, and energy consumption.

Conclusion

Greenhouse gases are important to control because they contribute to climate change. Climate change is a serious problem that will have far-reaching consequences for human societies and the environment. It is imperative that we take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. There are many ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and everyone can do their part. Individuals can make simple changes in their daily lives, like driving less, recycling, and composting. Businesses can make more energy-efficient products and adopt green practices. And governments can enact policies that promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 References

Baumeister, S. (2019). Replacing short-haul flights with land-based transportation modes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: The case of Finland. Journal of Cleaner Production225, 262-269. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959652619310455

Breuer, J. L., Samsun, R. C., Stolten, D., & Peters, R. (2021). How to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution caused by light and heavy duty vehicles with battery-electric, fuel cell-electric and catenary trucks. Environment international152, 106474. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412021000994

Lamb, W. F., Wiedmann, T., Pongratz, J., Andrew, R., Crippa, M., Olivier, J. G., … & Minx, J. (2021). A review of trends and drivers of greenhouse gas emissions by sector from 1990 to 2018. Environmental research letters16(7), 073005. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abee4e/meta

Liu, F., Zhao, F., Liu, Z., & Hao, H. (2019). Can autonomous vehicle reduce greenhouse gas emissions? A country-level evaluation. Energy Policy132, 462-473. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301421519303830

Mohammed, S., Gill, A. R., Alsafadi, K., Hijazi, O., Yadav, K. K., Hasan, M. A., … & Harsanyi, E. (2021). An overview of greenhouse gases emissions in Hungary. Journal of Cleaner Production314, 127865. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652621020837

Ritchie, H., Roser, M., & Rosado, P. (2020). CO₂ and greenhouse gas emissions. Our world in data. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-emissions?utm_source=coast%20reporter&utm_campaign=coast%20reporter%3A%20outbound&utm_medium=referral

Shaheen, M. J. (2020). An Analysis of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019. http://jhir.library.jhu.edu/handle/1774.2/63640

Ward, B. (2021). Building back better: Biden has made a promising start with an ambitious international and domestic program to tackle climate change. USApp–American Politics and Policy Blog. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/110137