Climate, CO2, Sequestration

Although earth-warming gases exist naturally in the atmosphere, human activities are adding more of these greenhouse gases or GHGs. Many scientists are concerned that these additional GHGs from human activities, called anthropogenic GHGs, are affecting Earth’s climate.

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Balancing Energy and the Environment

Chief among these is carbon dioxide. Anthropogenic CO2 comes from burning fossil fuels, industrial practices like making cement and processing natural gas, and agricultural activities like plowing. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have grown from a few million tons per year in 1850 to over 40 billion tons (36 billion metric tonnes) per year today mainly as the global use of fossil energy has continued to increase.1 And, these emissions keep growing.

The effort to cut annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions is called carbon management. Carbon management is a complex issue because most of our CO2 comes from making and using energy, and energy is critical to maintaining our quality of life.

Cutting CO2 emissions will require many actions, which might include energy conservation and efficiency, increased use of renewable and nuclear energy, more energy-efficient electricity generation, and CO2 sequestration.2

Learn about Earth’s natural CO2:
Learn about cutting CO2 emissions:
References
  1. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, 2017, Fossil-fuel CO2 emissions: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/meth_reg.html (accessed June 2017).
  2. Pacala, S., and Socolow, R., 2004, Stabilization wedges—solving the climate problem for the next 50 years with current technologies: Science, v. 305, p. 968-972.