Industry and Greenhouse Gases
Human activity is quickly increasing the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere at a rate that has never been seen before the planet's history. Everyday more and more influences and circumstances affect the people in the world and the environment that we are forced to live in. These changes in the environment that we have to adapt to cause many people to live their lives in ways they never have before. These changes cause people to think more about the decisions they make, such as what they would have done differently if they knew the information before. The change that many focus on is that of climate change that is largely centered on the phenomenon that is ‘Global Warming'. Greenhouse gas emissions within the industries such as factories and plants have a large role in global warming. The greenhouse gases emissions are generally referred to as the greenhouse effect.
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Greenhouse gases are gases within an environment or atmosphere that absorb and emit radiation within the thermal infrared range. Many greenhouse gases can occur naturally such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone however hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) result only from human industrial processes. Greenhouse gases have been said to be one of the key controllers of the Earth's temperature as it is estimated that the planet would be 33° C colder than it is right now. It is also estimated that ever since the industrial era in 1750, human activities have continually increased the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases work in the similar way to a greenhouse, which is the reasoning behind the greenhouse effect. The shorter-wavelength solar radiation from the sun passes through the atmosphere, which is absorbed by the Earth's surface, which causes it to be warm. Part of the energy that is absorbed is then reradiated back to the atmosphere as long wave infrared radiation. Only a small amount of the long wave radiation has the ability to pass back through the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere into space, trapping them and causing the lower atmosphere to be warm.
Many studies have been carried out by Environment Canada to grasp an idea of what causes the most greenhouse gas emissions in our industries. It has been determined that the agriculture sector is responsible for at least 10 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. The beef industry accounts for about half of these emissions, but it is very easy and feasible to reduce these emissions. Things such as livestock diets can be improved to create a better environment with fewer emissions.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the most common greenhouse gas emitted by industries. Carbon Dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere by the burning of solid waste, wood and wood products, and fossil fuels such as oils, natural gas, and coal. The concentration of CO2 is higher in present day than at any other time in the past 650 000 years and probably for as long as the planet has been alive. It has been estimated that by the end of the 21st century greenhouse gas emissions will be between 75% and 350% higher than pre-industrial concentrations if something isn't done to slow or stop them now.
Many solutions have been thought up about how to restore the atmosphere to minimal levels and to slow the rate of emissions; however none have been as effective as one would hope. Some solutions for a cleaner way to live are hydro power which is a renewable energy source, however it releases sediment which kills fishes and species in water. Another is wind power, which emits no greenhouse gases but takes up large amounts of land. Denmark is the world's leader in wind power; it is said by 2030, fifty percent of Denmark's energy could be produced solely by wind power. Solar power is another thought that has been used, as it could use the energy directly from the sun. Solar power uses photovoltaic cells which do not emit any greenhouse gases but are very expensive and more development is needed for use in the future. Nuclear power is another solution to cleaner energy, as the energy is produced by fission. However, although no greenhouse gases are produced, it does produce toxic radioactive wastes into the atmosphere.
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One of the world's major conventions regarding Global Warming and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Industry was held in Kyoto, Japan in 1997. Delegates from countries all over the world attended, as the purpose was to find a universal agreement to slow greenhouse gas emissions. This was named the Kyoto Protocol; which stated that the United States must cut emissions by 7%, Japan by 6%, and the European Union by 8% below the 1990 levels. The United States proposed their own plan to have these levels cut between 2008-2013, but stated they would not sign the original protocol if other developed and developing countries do not sign their protocol as well; they were successful.
The House of Commons of Canada have also come up with their own solution to slow the rate of emissions. The ‘Climate Changes Accountability Act' was passed in parliament in 2009. The bill calls for Canada to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 25% lower than 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% below the 1990 levels by 2050. The bill has only been passed on to the next level as 60 days are left to make amendments and changes to the bill before the House of Commons have their third and final vote. This bill is a huge increase, compared to the 6% they agreed on in 1997 at the Kyoto Protocol. Statistics Canada said that between 1990 and 2005, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada rose over 25 percent.
In Ontario, a cap-and-trade system is being put in place to reduce the emissions. The Environmental Protection Amendment Act was passed. This act allows Ontario's programs to link to other systems in North America and abroad. This maximizes trade oppourtunities for industry, helping to make greenhouse gas reductions at a lower cost. This is also hoped to create new jobs and business oppourtunities.
By reducing greenhouse gas emissions in industry, it is a way for people to be healthier due to better air and water quality. This may cause a reduction in the rate of economic development because industries have to adapt and find different ways of producing goods. People also have to alter their lives; driving smaller, lighter cars, ride bicycles more often, and increase their efficiency of what they do in many ways.