If we want to significantly reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere, it cannot be done by changes in human behavior. We do not need to feel guilty about the amount of hydrocarbon fuel we consume because CO2 is less than four percent of the total greenhouse gas inventory, and almost 97 percent of total atmospheric CO 2 comes from natural sources.
Here are the details:
- Water is a greenhouse gas. It conforms to the definition of the term as presented in the glossary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change document issued in May of 1992.
- Water comprises about 95 percent of all the Earth’s greenhouse gases.
- 99.99 percent of atmospheric H2O comes from natural sources, such as evaporation from earth’s surface waters.
- Most of the remaining greenhouse gases are comprised of CO 2 (~3.6 percent), CH4
(~ 0.4 percent), and N2O (~1.0 percent).
- Information developed by the US Dept. of Energy in 2000 indicates that the naturally-sourced amounts of CO2, CH4 and N2O are 96.8 percent, 81.7 percent and 95.1 percent respectively.
- When all of these are combined, taking into account the differing Global Warming
Potential factors for each gas, the effective naturally-sourced component of the total is 99.7 percent, with the human-caused amount equaling 0.3 percent.
This can be easily visualized by spreading 1000 M&M candies on a table and dividing them into two groups – one with 997 candies, and the other with three candies. As shown above, if the 1000 candies represent the entire amount of greenhouse gases, 997 would be the amount that would be here now if humanity had never existed. Think about that for a moment. Then decide how much of your current standard of living you would be willing to sacrifice for the sake of one or two candies. I doubt this reduction could even be measured, much less valued.
Charles K. Gilbert