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Climate Change and Carbon Emissions

Although climate change has happened before, there is strong evidence that the current climate change is caused by our actions. The measurements of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere from Antarctic ice cores reveal that this greenhouse gas was more or less stable in the last 10,000 years and that it is raising steadily since the early 20th century which coincides with increased fossil fuel burning. From the early 20th century to 2009, carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere increased for about 35%.

Carbon dioxide plays an important role in Earth’s climate and sustaining life on our planet. Together with other greenhouse gases, it traps the heat that is radiated by the Sun and prevents it from escaping, similarly as greenhouse (therefore greenhouse gases). But since its levels are rising, it means that it traps more heat which means that our planet is warming. And the measurements of average global temperature from ice cores confirm this. Over the last one hundred years, the average global temperature increased for about 0.75 degrees Celsius. But what is more worrisome is that the rise of the average global temperature (ca. 0.07 degree Celsius per decade over the entire period) nearly doubled after the mid-20th century (ca. 0.13 degree Celsius per decade).

The Main Sources of Carbon Emissions

The main source of carbon emissions is fossil fuel burning for energy, transport, industrial processes and a variety of other activities. Lower carbon emissions by making sure your car is serviced regularly and using an eco friendly cleaning company that can help the environment and your pocket. The greatest amounts of carbon dioxide emissions are produced by the energy sector by burning fossil fuels to generate electricity and for heating. The energy sector is estimated to be responsible for about one fourth of total carbon emissions on the global level. About one fifth of carbon emissions are produced by industry, mainly by on-site fossil fuel burning for energy supply. The third contributor to the rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, however, is not transport as you may have expected but deforestation.

The world’s forests play an important role in climate in several ways including by lowering the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. This is due to the fact that trees literally “breathe in” carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and “breathe out” pure oxygen. As a result, dramatic increase of the rate of deforestation after the mid-19th century has made the effects of rising carbon levels even more pronounced. According to the UN, the rate of deforestation has slowed at the end of the 20th century but many environmentalists warn that the world’s forests are still disappearing at an alarming rate. They also disagree with the UN, arguing that the UN did not take into account illegal logging in its estimation of the rate of deforestation.

Other major sources of carbon emissions include transport, agriculture and residential/commercial buildings.