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EIA FAQ on CO2 emissions

By Joe Romm  

"EIA FAQ on CO2 emissions"

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I came across these answers to frequently asked questions from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.¬† There’s some good information on emissions and conversion factors:

  • How much carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced when different fuels are burned?
  • How much CO2 does the United States emit? Is it more than other countries?
  • What are the largest sources of total greenhouse gas emissions by sector for the United States?
  • Where can I find emission factors for greenhouse gases and air pollutants?
  • How much of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are associated with electricity generation?
  • What are the largest sources of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by fuel?
  • What are greenhouse gases and how do they affect the climate?
  • Why do carbon dioxide emissions weigh more than the original fuel?
  • Does EIA report water vapor emissions data?
  • How does the hole in the ozone layer affect global warming?
  • How do I convert between short tons and metric tons?
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    10 Responses to EIA FAQ on CO2 emissions

    1. David Smith says:

      A question – As CO2 levels increase in the atmosphere does this impact Oxygen levels (Decrease) and are there projections of this relative to our own survival? I understand that we are fairly sensitive to oxygen levels. I tried researching this but I am not a scientist.

    2. JeandeBegles says:

      Joe,
      The EIA figures are quite interesting, because they are presented in a compréhensive way, with clear comments.
      But these figures miss the main point: THE UNIT OF MEASURE!
      Measuring CO2 is creating a very complicated calculation, with no easy way to check the numbers.
      Instead measuring carbon only, like the scientist use to do, is the smart thing to do.
      When we emit 1 carbon kilo in the atmosphere, it just mean that we have just burnt 1 carbon kilo (the burning process, oxydation, gives 2 Oxygen atom per Carbon atom, resulting in CO2, 3.6 CO2 kg in fact, plus heat).
      And the very interesting point is the following one, because it relates to our everyday choices.
      When we use 1 litre of gasoline for our car:
      * there is chimically 0,7 carbon kilo according to the oil quality
      * but we have to add the energy (fossil fuel based mainly) to extract this oil, refine it and ship it to the gas station: roughly it represents 0,1 carbon kg per litre.
      * we also have to take in account the energy to build our car and maintain it during its life cycle; for this we can add (roughly) 0,2 carbon kilo per litre.
      So there is the magic equation 1 litre of oil = 1 carbon kilo.
      Clearly, it is an approximation, but a very usefull one, because it works with gasoline for car, but also with kerozen for plane, with fuel for heating system, and so on.
      Joe, you are doing a great job to give us the best articles about the latest science findings, and also sometimes with the funniest point of view; all this is very valuable to inform and mobilize people for changing our way of living towards a low carbon way of living.
      I think that the unit of measure, as presented above, is also an important point for enabling every citizen to understand the consequences of his daily choices.
      It would be great that you support this unexpected idea; the carbon kilo instead of the virtual CO2 ton!

    3. Anne says:

      Here here. This is where translation from wonkiness to normality to total coolness really counts. Remember just last week or so that a whole new unit of energy measurement was created to honor Art Rosenfeld at LBNL?

      As in the following modern day version of Leave it to Beaver….

      “Hey Dad, I saved three millionths of a Rosenfeld today by remembering to turn off my computer before I went to school!”

      “That’s great, Beaver.. but, what’s a Rosenfeld? Are you talking about that new family that moved in down the street last week?”

      Maybe we need a new unit of measurement.

      I’ll make a wild suggestion to throw in the mix:

      The “Exxon” is equivalent to the pain and suffering of 500 million people over a period of 500 years, as a result of 500 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere over a period of 500 days. [uh, number check needed]

      This is the time when scientists need to really connect to the American people!

    4. JeandeBegles says:

      To David, in continuation with the issue of the unit of measurement.
      There is more than 20% O2 in the atmosphere when ther is less than 0,04% of CO2.
      These rough figures mean that there is 500 more times O2 than O2 in CO2.
      It means that burning carbon will not deplete our O2 reserve.
      There is no O2 problem. Our sole problem is that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and this is a HUGE problem.
      To Ann: as a foreigner I don’t get all your points; but I maintain to advice you counting in carbon instead of CO2, your numbers would be much more accurate!

    5. David Smith says:

      For Anne @ #3. How about a “Foxexxon” which could be a unit of change of global life expectency caused by the GHG output of ExxonMobile combined with the dis-information efforts of the fox network. It could be measured in minutes or could be a percentage compared to a standard. Maybe copmpared to life expectancy with a sustainable scenario. It would definitely connect these names with premature death. Might be powerfull.

    6. Bill W says:

      David, I think we need to use the “Murdoch” as the unit of disinformation, since virtually all of Rupert Murdoch’s many “news” outlets spread disinformation. Or perhaps we should just call it the “M”, in honor of Murdoch, Morano, McIntyre, McKitrick, Milloy, Monckton, et al.

    7. GFW says:

      David, yes, burning carbon reduces the amount of O2 (oxygen) in the atmosphere. This has been measured and is in agreement with the amount of carbon we’ve burned. But as JeandeBegles pointed out, because the amount of O2 available is large compared even to the large amount of carbon we’ve burned, the decrease since prehistoric times is on the order of one part in 2000 – nothing animal metabolism would notice.

    8. JeandeBegles says:

      So, no one thinking that the ghg unit of measure is a relevant topic?
      I am very surprised about the general blindness on this issue.
      Every one can agree that the public understanding of green house gas effects is very low, and that a lot of improvements could be done on the information level.
      Isn’t measuring the primarily step for understanding?

    9. James Newberry says:

      Re: Jean at No. 8,

      No, measuring is not the first step. It is defining what it is you are measuring. If you are measuring an “energy resource” with units of a material resource, i.e. matter (solid, liquid, gas) then the concept is incongruous and nonsensical. Just because “an economy” i.e. national economic policy, is based on fraud, that does not mean the philosophy of science should also be based on fraud.

      Petroleum is not an energy resource. It is mined material.

      (The implication is that a dominant globalized economy based on scientific and economic fraud will ultimately lead to collapse. Look around.)

    10. JeandeBegles says:

      Re James no9
      OK that the first step is defining what to measure: in our case it is CO2, because this polluting gas is dangerously warming our atmosphere.
      The idea is to measure carbon only, instead of the whole CO2:
      *because it is by reducing our carbon use that we will cut our CO2 emissions
      *because we have to act before CO2 is there.
      *because there is the “magic” correspondence: 1 litre of oil = 1 carbon kilo (=3.67 CO2 kilo).
      I don’t see fraud in this, only smartness!