Global Warming

Leading lights

Here are just a few of the stars putting their celebrity to work I George Clooney Twice named the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine, he just got sexier. He drives the ultra-mini, one-seat-wide Commuter Car Tango, and the Tesla Roadster, a top-of-the-line electric beauty. I Leonardo DiCaprio Climate change is a passion for this actor, who co-wrote and produced an environmental documentary, The 11th Hour. He also created the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998 to support a variety of...

Table of Contents

1 About This Foolish How This Book Is Part I Understanding Global Part II Tracking Down the Part III Examining the Effects of Global Part IV Political Progress Fighting Global Warming Nationally and Part V Solving the Part VI The Part of Icons Used in This Where to Go from Part I Understanding Global Warming 7 Chapter 1 Global Warming Global Warming Heating things up with greenhouse Investigating other causes of global The Roots of Global Fueling global Heating up over Examining the Effects of...

Whats a fossil fuel company to do

Oil companies face huge opportunities. Consider British Petroleum (BP), which now markets itself as Beyond Petroleum. Responding to climate change, BP has taken social and environmental leadership to minimize its emissions and overall environmental impact. These changes were sparked under the leadership of former Chief Executive Lord John Brown. What was once strictly a petroleum business has morphed into an energy business that raises public awareness about climate change and big technology...

Show Me the Money Business and Industrial Solutions

Making environmental progress in manufacturing Trading carbon between businesses Improving buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions Celebrating corporate successes Getting help from bankers, insurers, and lawyers Growing green with farming and forestry KM hen it comes to fighting climate change, one thing you may hear busi- nesses tell you is that they can't afford to reduce greenhouse gases and switch to sustainable energy. If people expect companies to spend a fortune on reducing...

The Activists

People worldwide recognize global warming as a major issue thanks to the efforts of activists around the globe who are constantly reminding the media, the government, and the public about the climate crisis. The four individuals in the following sections, from very different backgrounds, demonstrate the many ways we can all fight global warming, and how just one person can truly make a difference. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore has been an advocate for environmental issues for most, if not...

Chewing on Food Choices

It's time to choose a low-carb low-carbon, that is diet. Your food choices have a surprisingly large impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers have estimated that the average American creates 2.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year by eating, which is actually more than the 2 metric tons each U.S. citizen generates by driving. The fewer cooled or frozen foods you buy, the less you contribute to the energy needed to keep all those fridges, freezers, and refrigerated trucks...

Here comes the sun

Solar energy is very efficient and, like wind power, it produces no greenhouse gases. You can capture solar energy, even on cloudy days. And it's the most abundant type of energy available far beyond civilization's needs. In fact, the World Energy Council reports that the amount of solar energy that reaches the earth is over 7,500 times that of civilization's current energy demand Even if society only captured 0.1 percent of the sun's energy, and used it with just 10 percent efficiency, it...

Cutting Back on Carbon

Modern civilization probably won't stop producing greenhouse gas emissions altogether. But to stop levels from passing much farther beyond 450 ppm and thus limit the world to a 3.6-degrees Fahrenheit (2-degrees Celsius) temperature rise more people need to reduce their emissions. Because of this global need, the first step of the Kyoto Protocol is very important it requires just over a 5-percent reduction (below 1990 levels of emissions) by 2012. (See Chapter 11 for more about international...

Investigating Renewable Energy Options

The threat of climate change has encouraged individuals, governments, and businesses to consider sustainable energy sources that have low greenhouse gas emission rates, rather than exhaustible fossil fuel resources. Sustainable, or renewable, energy sources such as plants, the wind, and the sun regenerate themselves or can be replenished. Once up and working, most of these energy sources produce zero or little greenhouse gas the only emissions from wind and solar power, for example, could come...

The tipping point

The tipping point is the point at which something has gone too far or past the point of no return. Think of slowly going up the first climb on a roller coaster. After you go over the top, no one can stop the ride. Scientists believe that climate change has a tipping point, when the damage becomes too great to be reversed. After this point, not only can nothing reverse the impact on the planet, but little could stop that impact from increasing, either it just keeps getting worse. To determine...

Other problems worsened by global warming

The IPCC points out a number of health concerns that civilization already deals with that might worsen because of climate changes and extreme weather events I Allergies If you have allergies to pollen and dust, those allergies could get worse, depending on where you live. If global warming brings you an early spring, that early spring will bring pollen, too extending your allergy season. Countries such as Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands will probably be most affected by the increase in...

Living in the Dark Ages of Fossil Fuels

Investigating where our energy comes from Recognizing the differences between coal, oil, and natural gas Connecting the dots between population growth, economic expansion, and climate change MMjherever you live, however you heat your home, and however you get around, you probably meet most of your energy needs by burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Burning these fossil fuels releases large amounts of greenhouse gases (we talk about those gases in Chapter 2). In fact, just...

From Fossils to Fuel

A lot of people know that fossil fuels pollute and produce carbon, but they don't understand why. To understand that, you need to know where fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, come from. They're literally derived from fossils of past living matter. Talk about fossils, and the first things that may come to mind are dinosaurs. But when it comes to the fossils in fossil fuels, they're actually fossils from before the time of the dinosaurs starting off as decomposing plant material...

Examining the Different Types of Fossil Fuels

Coal, oil, and natural gas are all fossil fuels, but they're not all the same. They differ in how they're used, how much they're used, the greenhouse gases that they release when they're burned, and even where they come from. When land plants, such as trees, decomposed hundreds of millions of years ago, they pressed together into a solid form known as coal. Plants and animals in the oceans decomposed in a similar way sinking to the bottom of the ocean, getting buried under sediments, forming...

Weve Got the Power International Energy Agency

If you get energized thinking about the possibilities for power that exist beyond fossil fuel, check out the Web site for the International Energy Agency (IEA), www.iea.org. The IEA acts as an energy consultant for its 27 member countries, which include the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Originally created during the energy crisis of the mid-1970s to deal with oil supply emergencies, the IEA's focus has changed with the times, and it now deals with all sources of...

Green Developments Building or Renovating

Whether you're starting from scratch or renovating, major construction offers you the chance to really make your home energy efficient and carbon friendly. Keep the following elements in mind when working towards a low-energy and climate-friendly home (and check out Green Building & Remodeling For Dummies, by Eric Corey Freed Wiley for a whole book's worth of information on this subject) I Hire an eco-friendly architect. If you're planning to use an architect, look for one who's LEED...

Powerful Changes Renewable Energy

Cutting back on energy consumption in your home is great, but chances are very good that the energy you're still using isn't renewable and is producing greenhouse gases. Although people need to encourage their governments to explore sustainable energy sources (which we discuss in Chapter 13), you don't need to wait to use cleaner power. You can benefit from renewable energy in your home today l Generate the energy yourself. How much generating your own energy costs depends on where you live and...

Buttoning Up Your House

The key to creating an energy-efficient house (whether you want to keep the heat in or out) is insulation, insulation, insulation. Heating and cooling costs make up a whopping 80 percent of your energy bill, so seal up your doorways and windows, and make sure that you have the proper insulation for your crawl space, attic, and walls. Some of these changes might take a bit of time and effort, but they last for decades and save you significantly in energy costs, all while cutting back on...

Weighing the negatives

Detractors of nuclear power voice major concerns, including the following l Health concerns Long-term health studies vary, but a number of recent studies demonstrate higher cancer rates among populations that live near nuclear reactors. Uranium mining also endangers the health of miners. l High capital and maintenance costs Nuclear plants are expensive to start up and maintain. l Non-renewable resource Uranium is finite when it's gone, it's gone. l Reliability Nations around the world have...

Using energy efficiently

With the money saved through energy conservation, companies can adopt new, efficient technologies for applications such as electric equipment, heaters, and boiler systems l Systems powered by sustainable energy Industries can use their own biomass waste, such as wood, food, pulp, and paper scraps, as fuel. Some industries can power themselves by using methane from landfills to run boilers. Solar and wind power are other renewable options. (Refer to Chapter 13 for more about sustainable energy.)...

Warming the Worlds Waters Threats to the Underwater World

Water makes up 70 percent of the Earth's surface, making it a very important set of ecosystems, including oceans, seas, wetlands, rivers, streams, and swamps. Climate change will affect all of these ecosystems in the form of increasing water temperatures, rising sea levels, or droughts brought on by rising air temperatures. (Refer to Chapter 7 for more about the natural disasters global warming may cause.) Exactly how these ecosystems will be affected, no one knows. Climate change is...

Bringing Climate Change to Work

The changes you make at home are important, no question. But most folks spend the majority of their waking hours at work. Your employer's building and transportation fleet (if your company has one) presents two major projects that are just waiting to be tackled. If you nose around, you may find that your colleagues also want to turn your office green. Here are a few suggestions that you can make to your boss, building manager, or other decision-makers at work to get started I Establish an...

Supporting Clean Renewable Energy

You can support the development of clean, renewable energy in a number of ways, depending on where you live. Here are the two most common ways to make a significant impact I Make the energy. You can make energy yourself by using options such as solar energy to produce hot water and generate electricity. Chapter 13 covers other options that you can use to make energy. I Buy the energy. You can purchase energy from a company that uses low-emission energy sources. Green power can be purchased in...

Creating a Green Workplace

Most of the changes that you can make at home you can make at work, too. Your boss or manager may be more receptive than you think to your thoughts about energy-saving changes. Be sure you know your stuff (you're already one step ahead by picking up this book). Explain that taking these kinds of measures can be great for the company's environmental stewardship and can help save money. Here are a few extra ideas that can help reduce the energy impact of your workplace I Go for energy-efficient...

Buying Energy Efficient Electronics and Appliances

Bulbs, and turn on the lights only when you need them. Be conservative with your purchasing choices. When you buy electronics and appliances, don't buy what you don't need. If you get a bunch of gadgets that you're lured into purchasing, you end up consuming more electricity than you intend. But you can't cut every corner, and sometimes you just need a new appliance or electronic. The good news is that almost every kind of electronic and appliance, from dishwashers to computer monitors, comes...

Taking steps to conserve energy

Manufacturing doesn't have to be wasteful with some tweaks, industry can use less power, causing fewer greenhouse gas emissions. There are numerous environmental consulting firms all over the world, as well as nongovernmental organizations, that specialize in working with businesses, companies, and industry to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by lowering energy use. Here are a few steps that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends manufacturers take to help conserve...

How natural disasters caused by climate change affect women

Natural disasters, which will increase in the wake of climate change, affect women and men differently. Women, as main caregivers, are more likely to be indoors particularly in developing countries when a disaster occurs and won't be able to escape. Even if they do survive, women tend to stay within the community longer afterwards to care for their families, thus exposing themselves to deadly diseases. Although not linked to global warming, the grave impact that natural disasters have on women...

Corporate cooperation

Environmental group representatives are often asked to sit on advisory panels for industry and business. These panels are composed of people who offer companies outside perspectives on their plans and actions. For environmental activists, being on advisory panels presents opportunities to help companies develop a greater understanding of the ecological impact of their actions. The benefits of NGO-corporate partnerships go beyond advisory panels, however. Businesses are a link for NGOs to create...

A big flap over wind power

One of the biggest complaints against wind turbines is that they kill birds. Initially, this threat was a serious problem because builders didn't take bird and bat migration routes into consideration when erecting the turbines. A report put out by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences says that for every 30 wind turbines, one bird is killed each year, although these numbers are contested. Based on these numbers, 40,000 birds die because of wind turbines each year in the U.S. alone. While wind...

The Roots of Global Warming

Just what are humans doing to release all those greenhouse gases into the atmosphere You can pin the blame on two main offenses burning fossil fuels and deforestation. When you burn fossil fuels, such as coal and oil (named fossil fuels because they're composed of ancient plant and animal material), they release vast amounts of greenhouse gases (largely, but not exclusively, carbon dioxide), which trap heat in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are also a limited resource meaning that humanity can't...

Using oil efficiently

When no current option exists besides using fossil fuels, people can at least ensure that they use it efficiently, squeezing as much energy out of it as possible. Companies are working to develop high-efficiency technologies. For example, the compact fluorescent light bulb, which lasts ten times longer than a regular light bulb and uses a quarter of the energy, has already found its way into many homes. (Although these bulbs use electricity, fossil fuels often generate that electricity refer to...

In This Chapter

Getting around without a car Driving your car with fewer emissions Flying green through the blue skies rhe area in your own life in which you can best limit greenhouse gas production is transportation. Any means of transportation that relies on fossil fuels adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and currently, that's just about every means of transportation. No wonder transportation accounts for about a quarter of all human-produced greenhouse gases. People can and should push governments to...

NotSoNatural Disasters

Considering the watery consequences of global warming Projecting the un-perfect storm Figuring out effects on forests Feeling the heat waves Getting feedback from Mother Earth ajor natural disasters have always happened. Storms, hurricanes, floods, and droughts are all part of the planet's natural weather and climate system. In the future, however, humanity is going to be facing more and more intense versions of these phenomena and they're going to be anything but natural disasters....

People Can Adapt

That humanity can adapt isn't really a myth. People can adapt. But humanity's adaptability doesn't mean people can ignore the demands to reduce greenhouse gases. People can adapt to the impacts of climate change at the lower end of impacts. In other words, scientists know that the climate is changing because of human activity. But humanity doesn't know where the new concentrations of greenhouse gases will level off. What will be the new normal If the world can reduce greenhouse gases quickly...

Capturing and storing carbon dioxide

Oil companies and researchers are conducting major tests dealing with the capture and underground storage of greenhouse gases. Storing the carbon works differently in different places. Two ways of capturing and storing carbon are currently being used I During oil production Oil-product producers pump the carbon dioxide into the ground at the same time that they pump the oil out of the ground. The pressure from the gas being pumped in actually helps to get the oil out more efficiently creating a...

Solving the Problem

Everyone can play a part in slowing down global warming, and humanity doesn't have time to start small. Solving climate change requires a major commitment from everyone from big business and industry to everyday people. Combined, these changes can make the necessary difference. Fossil fuels (see Chapter 4) are the primary source of the human-produced greenhouse gases causing global warming. Although they've fuelled more than a century of human progress, it's time to leave them with the...