Green Technologies for 2020

In: Science

Green Technologies for 2020

Green Technologies for 2020

In recent history, human activities have significantly added to global greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). Current carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere are reaching concentrations of 393 ppm (parts per million), the highest it’s been for the last 800,000 years. Unfortunately, most laymen are not able to understand or relate to what 393 ppm means. To explain briefly, most adults will probably remember from science class that the atmosphere consists of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, with carbon dioxide contributing 0.03%. However, at 393 ppm, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is now closer to 0.04%, which means a 25% increase in overall levels. And most shockingly, this increase in CO2 levels is largely irreversible. Scientists and policymakers worldwide are working toward halting the increase in CO2 levels, but the likelihood of reversing carbon dioxide levels back to 0.03% is almost nil.

So what does all this mean? The most noticeable trend is the slow and steady increase in global temperatures, with the last decade (2001 to 2010) having some of the hottest years on record. The hotter temperatures have in turn affected global climate patterns, which has led to more severe floods, draughts, snowstorms, and so on. (Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis are not a result of higher carbon dioxide levels). The severity in losses and damage is further compounded by increasing population growth and urbanization, so that even small changes in climate patterns may result in catastrophic events.

The major contributors to carbon dioxide emissions is electricity generation from the burning of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and gas), as well as the burning of transport fuels in automobiles, trucks, airplanes and ships. To combat global warming and climate change, an effort was made to reduce CO2 emissions on a global level, beginning with the introduction of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

Consequently,...

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