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How Much Greenhouse Gases Are From the U.S.?

There are still some skeptics about global warming. In any event, there is a need for humans to become socially responsible for our habitat.

ARTICLE
What are greenhouse gases and how much are emitted by the United States?
Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun and warm the planet’s surface. Of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 87% are related to energy consumption. Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States have grown by about 1% per year. In 2005, about 21% of the world’s total energy-related carbon dioxide was emitted by the United States.

Because greenhouse gases trap radiation (heat) from the sun and warm the planet’s surface, a certain amount of these gases is beneficial (see “Did You Know?”). But as concentrations of these gases increase due to human activity, more warming occurs than would happen naturally. In 2006, about 7.1 billion metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) of greenhouse gases were emitted by the United States.1 Other countries with significant emissions include China, the countries of Europe, Russia, and Japan.
What Specific Kinds of Greenhouse Gases Does the United States Emit?
The major greenhouse gases the United States emits as a result of human activity and that are included in U.S. and international emissions estimates are:
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Methane (CH4)
Nitrous oxide (N2O)
High-GWP gases, which are:
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)
There are other greenhouse gases that are not counted in U.S. or international greenhouse gas inventories:
Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas, but most scientists believe that water vapor produced directly by human activity contributes very little to the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, and therefore EIA does not estimate emissions of water vapor. Recent research by NASA suggests a stronger impact from the indirect human effects on water vapor concentrations.
Ozone is technically a greenhouse gas because it has an effect on global temperature. However, at higher elevations in the atmosphere (stratosphere), where it occurs naturally, it is needed to block harmful UV light. At lower elevations of the atmosphere (troposphere) it is harmful to human health and is a pollutant regulated independently of its warming effects.
How Much of Total U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are Energy Related?
Of the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted in 2006, about 5.9 billion metric tons were carbon dioxide from energy consumption (the burning of fossil fuels). Another 0.3 billion metric tons CO2e came from energy-related greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide for a total of 6.2 out of 7.1 billion metric tons CO2e or about 87%.
Which Fuel Accounts for the Largest Share of Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions?
Petroleum is the largest fuel source of carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption in the United States. Petroleum carbon dioxide emissions were 2.6 billion metric tons, or 44% of the total, in 2006.
Other important fossil fuel sources of carbon dioxide emissions include:
Coal — accounting for 2.1 billion metric tons (36%) in 2006
Natural gas — accounting for 1.2 billion metric tons (20%) in 2006
What Are the Important Non-Carbon Dioxide (Non-CO2) Greenhouse Gases Related to the Production and Consumption of Energy?
Of the non-CO2 gases that contribute to energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, methane contributes most of the 0.3 billion metric tons CO2e — mainly from emissions that leak out of natural gas pipelines, coal mines, and petroleum exploration and production facilities.
How Are Energy-Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions Distributed Throughout Our Economy and What Sector of Our Economy Is Responsible for the Most Emissions?
Electric power generation and transportation are the biggest sources of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in our nation, with respective shares of 39.8% and 33.7% of our total energy-related emissions in 2006. Taken together, emissions in power generation and transportation increased at an average annual rate of 1.5% between 1990 and 2006. The rest of our emissions result from direct use of fossil fuels in homes, commercial buildings, and industry. These emissions are virtually unchanged since 1990.
Since electric power is ultimately used in homes, commercial buildings, and industry, emissions associated with power generation can be allocated to each end-use sector based on their electricity consumption to obtain another perspective. Using this approach, the transportation sector is currently the largest emitter. Our cars, trucks, planes, trains, ships, and barges produced 2.0 billion metric tons CO2e (1.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide plus 0.1 billion metric tons CO2e in other gases) in 2006. Emissions from this sector have grown at an average rate of 1.4% since 1990.
The industrial sector — which consists of activities such as manufacturing, construction, mining, and agriculture � emits almost as much as the transportation sector — a total of 1.9 billion metric tons of energy-related CO2e (1.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide plus 0.2 billion metric tons CO2e in other gases). Its emissions have been largely stable since 1990 due primarily to the loss of energy-intensive industries such as steel.
The commercial sector — which includes such sources as schools, office buildings, and shopping malls — emits a total of 1.0 billion metric tons CO2e of energy-related carbon dioxide, with almost 80% of it coming from the power plants providing the electricity used in the buildings. Its emissions have grown the fastest since 1990, at an average annual rate of 1.8%.
The residential sector — the homes we live in — emits 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2e, almost all of which is energy-related carbon dioxide, over 70% of which is produced at power plants providing homes electricity. Residential sector emissions have grown at an average annual rate of 1.4% since 1990.

What are greenhouse gases and how much are emitted by the United States?
Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun and warm the planet’s surface. Of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 87% are related to energy consumption. Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States have grown by about 1% per year. In 2005, about 21% of the world’s total energy-related carbon dioxide was emitted by the United States.

Because greenhouse gases trap radiation (heat) from the sun and warm the planet’s surface, a certain amount of these gases is beneficial (see “Did You Know?”). But as concentrations of these gases increase due to human activity, more warming occurs than would happen naturally. In 2006, about 7.1 billion metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) of greenhouse gases were emitted by the United States.1 Other countries with significant emissions include China, the countries of Europe, Russia, and Japan.
What Specific Kinds of Greenhouse Gases Does the United States Emit?
The major greenhouse gases the United States emits as a result of human activity and that are included in U.S. and international emissions estimates are:
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Methane (CH4)
Nitrous oxide (N2O)
High-GWP gases, which are:
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)
There are other greenhouse gases that are not counted in U.S. or international greenhouse gas inventories:
Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas, but most scientists believe that water vapor produced directly by human activity contributes very little to the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, and therefore EIA does not estimate emissions of water vapor. Recent research by NASA suggests a stronger impact from the indirect human effects on water vapor concentrations.
Ozone is technically a greenhouse gas because it has an effect on global temperature. However, at higher elevations in the atmosphere (stratosphere), where it occurs naturally, it is needed to block harmful UV light. At lower elevations of the atmosphere (troposphere) it is harmful to human health and is a pollutant regulated independently of its warming effects.
How Much of Total U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are Energy Related?
Of the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted in 2006, about 5.9 billion metric tons were carbon dioxide from energy consumption (the burning of fossil fuels). Another 0.3 billion metric tons CO2e came from energy-related greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide for a total of 6.2 out of 7.1 billion metric tons CO2e or about 87%.
Which Fuel Accounts for the Largest Share of Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions?
Petroleum is the largest fuel source of carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption in the United States. Petroleum carbon dioxide emissions were 2.6 billion metric tons, or 44% of the total, in 2006.
Other important fossil fuel sources of carbon dioxide emissions include:
Coal — accounting for 2.1 billion metric tons (36%) in 2006
Natural gas — accounting for 1.2 billion metric tons (20%) in 2006
What Are the Important Non-Carbon Dioxide (Non-CO2) Greenhouse Gases Related to the Production and Consumption of Energy?
Of the non-CO2 gases that contribute to energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, methane contributes most of the 0.3 billion metric tons CO2e — mainly from emissions that leak out of natural gas pipelines, coal mines, and petroleum exploration and production facilities.
How Are Energy-Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions Distributed Throughout Our Economy and What Sector of Our Economy Is Responsible for the Most Emissions?
Electric power generation and transportation are the biggest sources of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in our nation, with respective shares of 39.8% and 33.7% of our total energy-related emissions in 2006. Taken together, emissions in power generation and transportation increased at an average annual rate of 1.5% between 1990 and 2006. The rest of our emissions result from direct use of fossil fuels in homes, commercial buildings, and industry. These emissions are virtually unchanged since 1990.
Since electric power is ultimately used in homes, commercial buildings, and industry, emissions associated with power generation can be allocated to each end-use sector based on their electricity consumption to obtain another perspective. Using this approach, the transportation sector is currently the largest emitter. Our cars, trucks, planes, trains, ships, and barges produced 2.0 billion metric tons CO2e (1.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide plus 0.1 billion metric tons CO2e in other gases) in 2006. Emissions from this sector have grown at an average rate of 1.4% since 1990.
The industrial sector — which consists of activities such as manufacturing, construction, mining, and agriculture � emits almost as much as the transportation sector — a total of 1.9 billion metric tons of energy-related CO2e (1.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide plus 0.2 billion metric tons CO2e in other gases). Its emissions have been largely stable since 1990 due primarily to the loss of energy-intensive industries such as steel.
The commercial sector — which includes such sources as schools, office buildings, and shopping malls — emits a total of 1.0 billion metric tons CO2e of energy-related carbon dioxide, with almost 80% of it coming from the power plants providing the electricity used in the buildings. Its emissions have grown the fastest since 1990, at an average annual rate of 1.8%.
The residential sector — the homes we live in — emits 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2e, almost all of which is energy-related carbon dioxide, over 70% of which is produced at power plants providing homes electricity. Residential sector emissions have grown at an average annual rate of 1.4% since 1990.

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Year-to-Date Global Temperatures are Warmest on Record

Human induced climate change is a pronblem. See “Global Warming Has Caused Irreparable Damage”

Last month’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the warmest June on record and the warmest on record averaged for any April-June and January-June periods, according to NOAA. Worldwide average land surface temperature was the warmest on record for June and the April-June period, and the second warmest on record for the year-to-date (January-June) period, behind 2007.

The monthly analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, which is based on records going back to 1880, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.

Global Temperature Highlights – June
The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for June 2010 was the warmest on record at 61.1°F (16.2°C), which is 1.22°F (0.68°C) above the 20th century average of 59.9°F (15.5°C).
•The global June land surface temperature was 1.93°F (1.07°C) above the 20th century average of 55.9 °F (13.3°C) — the warmest on record.
?Warmer-than-average conditions dominated the globe, with the most prominent warmth in Peru, the central and eastern contiguous U.S., and eastern and western Asia. Cooler-than-average regions included Scandinavia, southern China and the northwestern contiguous United States.
?According to Beijing Climate Center, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang and Jilin had their warmest June since national records began in 1951. Meanwhile, Guizhou experienced its coolest June on record.
?According to Spain’s meteorological office, the nationwide average temperature was 0.7°F (0.4°C) above normal, Spain’s coolest June since 1997.

•The worldwide ocean surface temperature was 0.97°F (0.54°C) above the 20th century average of 61.5°F (16.4°C), which was the fourth warmest June on record. The warmth was most pronounced in the Atlantic Ocean.
•Sea surface temperature continued to decrease across the equatorial Pacific Ocean during June 2010, consistent with the end of El Niño. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, La Niña conditions are likely to develop during the northern hemisphere summer 2010.

April – June 2010 and Year-to-Date

•The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for April-June 2010 was 1.26°F (0.70°C) above the 20th century average—the warmest April-June period on record.
•For the year-to-date, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature of 57.5°F (14.2°C) was the warmest January-June period. This value is 1.22°F (0.68°C) above the 20th century average.
Polar Sea Ice and Precipitation Highlights

•Arctic sea ice covered an average of 4.2 million square miles (10.9 million square kilometers) during June. This is 10.6 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent and the lowest June extent since records began in 1979. This was also the 19th consecutive June with below-average Arctic sea ice extent.
•Antarctic sea ice extent in June was above average, 8.3 percent above the 1979-2000 average—resulting in the largest June extent on record.
•China had near-average precipitation. Regionally, Guizhou, Fujian and Qinghai had above-average precipitation during June 2010, resulting in the second wettest June since national records began in 1951—according to Beijing Climate Center. Meanwhile, the province of Jiangsu had its driest June on record, while Shanxi had its second driest on record.
•According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, the continent had its fourth-driest June on record.
•The first six months of 2010 were the driest since 1929 for the United Kingdom, according to the UK Met Office. The average rainfall during January-June 2010 was 14.3 inches (362.5 mm), just 3.4 inches (86.8 mm) above January-June 1929. The January-June long-term average is 20.1 inches (511.7 mm).
Scientists, researchers and leaders in government and industry use NOAA’s monthly reports to help track trends and other changes in the world’s climate. This climate service has a wide range of practical uses, from helping farmers know what and when to plant, to guiding resource managers with critical decisions about water, energy and other vital assets.

Scientists, researchers and leaders in government and industry use NOAA’s monthly reports to help track trends and other changes in the world’s climate. This climate service has a wide range of practical uses, from helping farmers know what and when to plant, to guiding resource managers with critical decisions about water, energy and other vital assets.

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Offshore Wind Energy Consortium

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the governors of 10 East Coast states signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on June 8 that formally establishes the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium. The new consortium will promote the development of wind resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) along the East Coast, primarily by coordinating state and federal efforts relating to permitting, environmental studies, technical and financial barriers, and the infrastructure needed to deploy and maintain offshore wind power plants. The MOU was signed by the governors of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. DOI’s new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will oversee the development of wind power and other renewable energy resources on the OCS. In addition, DOI will establish a new renewable energy regional office, located in Virginia, to coordinate the development of wind and solar energy and other renewable energy resources in the region. See the DOI press release and the MOU (PDF 28 KB), which is posted on the Web site of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Download Adobe Reader.

Several offshore wind energy projects have been proposed for East Coast states, positioning the region to tap into the potential of U.S. wind power. For example, on April 21, DOI approved Cape Wind, a 130-turbine wind power project in Nantucket Sound off the Massachusetts coast. In addition, NRG Bluewater Wind has proposed wind power projects off the coasts of Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey; Deepwater Wind is involved with projects off the coasts of Rhode Island and New Jersey; and a public-private partnership in New York State is developing a 350-megawatt offshore wind project. The Long Island – New York City Offshore Wind Project would be located about 13 nautical miles off the Rockaway Peninsula, which is in the New York City borough of Queens. Meanwhile, a recent study by Stony Brook University and the University of Delaware finds that linking a string of East Coast offshore wind plants with a transmission line would help to smooth out power fluctuations caused by the weather. The University of Delaware is also teaming up with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop a test site for commercial wind turbines off the Delaware coast. See the Web sites for Cape Wind, NRG Bluewater Wind, Deepwater Wind, and the Long Island – New York City Offshore Wind Project, as well as the press releases from Stony Brook University and NREL.

The Atlantic coastal region isn’t the only site with gusts of offshore wind power activity. On June 4, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced the start of a multi-phase review process for five proposals vying to construct the Great Lakes Offshore Wind project, which would be located in the New York State waters of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario. NYPA expects to pick a developer by early next year, followed by about five years of permitting and construction before the project achieves commercial operation. And in May, the General Electric Corporation (GE) and the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) made public their long-term partnership, aimed at the development of an offshore wind farm near Cleveland, Ohio,. Under the new partnership, GE will provide direct-drive wind turbines to LEEDCo’s proposed 20-megawatt offshore wind project in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie. The project is targeted for completion in late 2012. See the press releases from NYPA and LEEDCo (PDF 396 KB).

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