Learning about Carbon Dioxide

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.

4 thoughts on “Learning about Carbon Dioxide

  1. The article states that some parts of the world release more carbon dioxide than others. What do you think the reason for this is? It also states that energy production/use and agriculture are responsible for emitting a large portion of greenhouse gases. Do you think there is any way to possibly limit/fix this? Perhaps creating more carpool lanes and encouraging people to walk or ride a bike when possible?

  2. This is all very informative, especially the part about how much CO2 cars emit which I too wrote about. Do you actually think about this when you’re driving though? I’ve genuinely starting integrating these numbers and statistics in my every day life because in the past I’ve been too lazy to walk to reamer, for example, so I would drive which in turn just releases more unnecessary CO2 into the environment. Seriously, I could have driven the other day but I chose to walk. These findings are only informative if we genuinely merge them into our lives.

  3. The numbers you explained in your blog were alarming and really put the amount of CO2 that we rely on on a daily basis into perspective. You mentioned that electricity accounts for 31% of greenhouse gas emission which I have never thought about before, and there are so many ways to decrease this number. Simple things like installing solar panels, or just turning off the lights when you leave a room are tasks that are so easy, yet no one seems to do. Often times, people think they can’t make an impact on their own, but seeing how much carbon dioxide emissions have increased over time, any little bit helps.

  4. This post really shares the amount of CO2 that we rely on daily to perform our basic needs like transportation. Additionally, it is clear that year after year the amount of CO2 that we use is increasing. So, we need to take steps to minimize this use. Not only should we look at structural fixes to minimize the use of CO2, but also we as individuals should also consider what we can do as well.

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