`Greenhouse Gas Emissions Hit Record Highs in 2021 - Olive Oil Times

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Hit Record Highs in 2021

By Paolo DeAndreis
Nov. 9, 2022 16:20 UTC

The atmos­pheric con­cen­tra­tions of the three major green­house gases – car­bon diox­ide, methane and nitrous oxide – reached new record highs in 2021, accord­ing to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The WMO noted how methane con­cen­tra­tions grew strik­ingly in its Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. Between 2020 and 2021, methane emis­sions increased at their fastest rate since mon­i­tor­ing began in 1983, ris­ing from 15 parts per bil­lion (ppb) to 18 ppb.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, methane’s pres­ence affects Earth’s tem­per­a­ture and cli­mate sys­tems.

See Also:Australian Heatwave Harbinger of Hot Summer, Hotter Century

Its con­cen­tra­tion has grown dur­ing the last two cen­turies largely due to human-related activ­i­ties.” Methane traps 25 times more heat in the atmos­phere than car­bon diox­ide.

Still, the WMO sci­en­tists said the rea­sons for the more recent rapid increase are uncer­tain.

Analysis indi­cates that the largest con­tri­bu­tion to the renewed increase in methane since 2007 comes from bio­genic sources, such as wet­lands or rice pad­dies,” they wrote.

It is not yet pos­si­ble to say if the extreme increases in 2020 and 2021 rep­re­sent cli­mate feed­back; if it gets warmer, the organic mate­r­ial decom­poses faster,” the sci­en­tists added. If it decom­poses in the water (with­out oxy­gen), this leads to methane emis­sions. Thus, if trop­i­cal wet­lands become wet­ter and warmer, more emis­sions are pos­si­ble.”

According to the WMO, emis­sions from fos­sil fuel and cement pro­duc­tion in 2021 have increased the level of car­bon diox­ide in the atmos­phere to 149 per­cent above pre-indus­trial lev­els.

Of the total emis­sions from human activ­i­ties dur­ing the 2011 to 2020 period, about 48 per­cent accu­mu­lated in the atmos­phere, 26 per­cent in the ocean and 29 per­cent on land,” the WMO wrote.

According to the World Ocean Review, car­bon diox­ide con­cen­tra­tions were largely sta­ble dur­ing the 12,000 years between the last ice age and the Industrial Revolution.

This rel­a­tively sta­ble CO2 con­cen­tra­tion sug­gests that the pre-indus­trial car­bon cycle was largely in equi­lib­rium with the atmos­phere,” sci­en­tists wrote. Since the begin­ning of the indus­trial age, increas­ing amounts of addi­tional car­bon have entered the atmos­phere annu­ally in the form of car­bon diox­ide.”

See Also:Next Five Years Will Be Hotter than Last Five, WMO Says

It is believed that since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, human activ­i­ties have released approx­i­mately 400 giga­tons of car­bon diox­ide into the atmos­phere.

In its bul­letin, the WMO also noted a grow­ing per­cent­age of nitrous oxide, a green­house gas con­sid­ered 300 times more potent than car­bon diox­ide in trap­ping heat.

Fifty-seven per­cent of nitrous oxide emis­sions are esti­mated to be gen­er­ated by nat­ural sources. The rest are asso­ci­ated with soil use, bio­mass burn­ing, fer­til­iz­ers and indus­trial processes.

The increase from 2020 to 2021 was slightly higher than that observed from 2019 to 2020 and higher than the aver­age annual growth rate over the past 10 years,” the WMO wrote.

According to the EPA, nitrous oxide accounted for about 7 per­cent of all U.S. green­house gas emis­sions from human activ­i­ties in 2020.

Human activ­i­ties such as agri­cul­ture, fuel com­bus­tion, waste­water man­age­ment, and indus­trial processes are increas­ing the amount of N2O in the atmos­phere,” the EPA wrote.

One of the most rel­e­vant vari­ables to deter­mine the impact of any spe­cific green­house gas is how long the gas remains intact before being sequestered or chem­i­cally react­ing.

According to EPA, nitrous oxide can remain intact for 114 years, methane for 12 years and car­bon diox­ide for a period span­ning between 300 and 1,000 years.


Related Articles