Greenhouse Gas Reduction May Be Pipedream

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 The countries comprising the European Union have less greenhouse gas than they used to, according to the European Environment Agency.   But this perceived reduction in greenhouse gases worldwide may be a pipedream.

The Agency recently reported a drop in greenhouse emission by 3% between 2010 and 2011, and by 18.4% between 2011 and 1990.  [AP]

Most of the reductions originated from Britain, France and Germany.  Emissions from Romania, Bulgaria and Spain went up.

Sources in the scientific community tell us that greenhouse gases, or GHGs, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4) absorb solar energy rather than reflecting it back into space.  This process is what is described as the “greenhouse effect.” This causes earth’s temperatures to go up. Even water vapor (H2O) is a greenhouse gas.  We are well aware of the commonly held opinion that the activities of humans on this planet, namely the burning of fossil fuels. have added GHGs to the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution began around 1750.

There are those that consider such optimistic statistics as based on assumptions that do not bear scrutiny, and constitute a pipedream.

An article published in Transport & Environment disputes the recent findings by the European Environment Agency.  It states that GHG emissions from transport activity are up 27% from 1990 levels.  The 1% drop in emissions, in terms of the transportation industries, is below the 1% goal established by the European Union’s for reducing emissions due to transportation activities by 3% per year by 2050.

The article opines that emission reductions may simply be a result of worsening economic conditions in the EU.

The optimist results may not reflect reality in other ways.  An article in The Atlantic (May 2013) reported that European imports of coal from the U. S. have doubled between 2009 and 2011.  Germany’s standing as one of the three countries in the European Union that have reduced GHG emissions the most is questionable, given that Germany has been progressively increasing its consumption of coal and adding to its carbon-dioxide output of the planet.  European nations can’t easily replace fossil fuels with natural gas, because they have entered into long-term agreements that link the price of natural gas to that of oil.

The Guardian in Britain relied upon the European Environment Agency’s report to point out that the decrease in the GHG emissions, at least in the United Kingdom, may be a short-term seasonal effect of lower gas usage in homes, because of milder winter temperatures, and also a reduction in the demand for electricity.

Lower statistics for GHGs may have little effect on the practices of developed nations.  Sources assert that while developed nations that are participants in the Tokyo Protocols, including the 37 countries of the European Union, have committed to reduce their GHGs, they are permitted by international emissions trading to exchange their emissions quotas and also receive credits for financing emissions reductions in developing countries.

The Scientific of the European Environmental Agency has issued a unanimous opinion that there needs to be a major revision of EU policies and directives related to bioenergy.  Bioenergy is derived from biofuels.  Biofuels are a type of fuel, such as wood or ethanol, whose energy is derived from biomass.  Biomass is organic matter, especially plant matter, which can be converted to fuel.  EU policies policies requiring the replacement of fossil fuel usage with bioenergy, so the Committee maintains, suffer from an “accounting error,” since they are based upon the assumption that biomass combustion would not add CO2 to the atmosphere, which is untrue.

Characterizing biomass combustion as inherently “carbon neutral,” because it only releases carbon taken from the atmosphere as part of plant growth, ignores the fact that using land to produce plants for energy means that this land is not producing plants for other purposes, including the “sequestering” of carbon.  Carbon, as well as CO2, is sequestered by plants and trees as they grow, which capture it and store it underground.  Current policies, so the Committee says, do not properly account for changes in indirect land usage.

Conservative groups have continually charged that “eco-freaks” are manipulating the stats.  An op-ed piece in the New American Gazette declares that “freaks” have acted as alarmists by repeating statistics about the increases in global emissions, while ignoring the fact that methane, which naturally occurs, makes up 99.19% of the greenhouse gas on earth. CO2, the “favorite” GHG in terms of dire prophecies of climatic catastrophe, equals only 0.814 % of all GHGs. Statistics on global warming, so the article asserts, are flawed, because they are based on  temperature readings taken only since 1948, and do not reflect climactic changes over time.

The Express in London relied upon a dossier released by the European Foundation to assert a lack of scientific evidence that the warming of the earth is caused by greenhouse gas emissions.  In any event, human activity accounts for less than 0.00022% of the total GHGs arising from the earth’s mantle.

According to an article entitled “Green infrastructure underground more than a pipe dream,” published in Fer-Pal Infrastructure, innovations in the method of piping installation in construction are significantly decreasing carbon emissions shed into the environment , meanwhile improving efficiencies in production and minimizing disruption in the land.

But there are groups that consider that the belief that greenhouse gas emissions are shrinking may be a pipedream.

 

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