An article published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discussed the effect greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide, have had on radiative forcing on Earth. Energy from the sun is absorbed by Earth, and what is not absorbed radiates back into space, known as radiative forcing. Radiative forcing is responsible for rising temperatures on Earth, and rising temperatures are due to emissions of greenhouse gases that humans use for everyday activities. Carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas that is primarily responsible for rising temperatures.
In the year 1990, the annual Greenhouse Gas Index ranked at a 1.0. In 2015, the Greenhouse Gas Index had increased by 37%, ranking at a 1.37. But what does this number, 37%, really mean for our planet, and how did this happen? First, in the United States, electricity generation, which occurs at power plants, accounts for 31% of greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, followed by transportation, which accounts for 26% of greenhouse gas emissions. Our economy accounts for a large percent of the greenhouse gases that are emitted each year. In the year 2010 alone, almost 46 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases were emitted in Earth’s atmosphere.
But what is 46 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas? According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, about 24 pounds of carbon dioxide are admitted for every gallon of gas used driving a car. 2,204 lbs is equal to 1 metric ton, so 46 billion metrics tons is equal to 101,413 billion pounds. 101,413 billion pounds is equal to 4,225.54 trillion gallons of gas. In other words, the emission of 46 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases can be explained in terms of the gas used to fuel cars each year, 4,225.54 trillion gallons of gas.