What Is the biggest pollutant in the world?

By Energy Company Numbers on January 5, 2017 in Help and advice

What Is the Biggest Pollutant in The World?

From the melting ice caps, to various other forms of environmental damage, many of the problems that we face in our world today can be attributed to a limited list of consumer products – each emitting a range of pollutants detrimental to the air around us.

Soot that comes from cooking stoves and car exhausts, sulphates taken from coal-fired power plants, and methane that is leaked into the air during gas and oil production or all forms of greenhouse gasses. These substances trap heat within the atmosphere of the earth for a short period, before decaying into semi-virulent chemicals. While it’s important to reduce the number of greenhouse gasses we create as a population, this form of pollution is not currently the biggest problem the earth faces.

CO2 Is the World’s Biggest Pollutant

The truth is that cutting the emissions of short-lived climate pollutions like greenhouse gasses may be crucial, but it won’t have much of an impact on long-term climate change. Studies have found that when it comes to protecting the earth from climate change – carbon dioxide is the gas that truly matters. Unlike other pollutants that only live for a short amount of time, CO2 remains in the atmosphere for decades, even centuries – wreaking havoc around the world.

Further reading: What is calorific value?

This understanding of CO2 has lead human beings to start thinking more carefully about how they can take steps to phase out CO2 – something that we produce on a massive scale, every day.

Where Does CO2 Come From?

There are both human-created and natural sources of carbon dioxide emissions produced in the world. While natural sources include ocean release, decomposition, and respiration, human-based sources are created through activities that burn fossil fuels, and lead to deforestation.

Around 87% of all the carbon dioxide emissions that we produce come from burning fossil fuels like natural gas, oil, and coal. The remaining percentages come from activities like clearing out forests, changing land environments, and engaging in industrial processes such as the manufacturing of cement.  CO2 can be released as a result of driving cars, or creating the energy that we use on a daily basis – which is why so many vehicle manufacturers and energy producers are looking into greener, more sustainable methods of energy production.

What Can You Do?

The unfortunate truth is that most human beings have a short-sighted view of the world around them. We’re more focused on making sure that we have the energy that we need to enjoy the conveniences that we consume on a day to day basis – than we are on making sure that such energy comes from a sustainable place.

Further reading: Carbon capture explained: what is it and how does it work?

The products of our convenient lifestyles may have long-term environmental consequences. For the purpose of protecting the planet, and lowering our energy bills, it’s important to take steps to do our part. For instance, many people are considering changing their vehicle to an electrically-powered or hybrid car. When this isn’t possible, there’s always the option to contact your energy provider and ask them for a system that will allow them to monitor their energy consumption at home.

These tiny smart hubs can give you an insight into the times when you’re using excess energy for no good reason – reducing your bills and your carbon footprint at the same time. Fortunately, the amount of CO2 in the world is beginning to drop. For instance, the U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions equalled 2,530 million metric tons during the first half of 2016 – the lowest level since 1991 and levels in Scotland have dropped significantly. However, as a species, we still have a lot of work to do.

About the Author

Energy Company NumbersView all posts by Energy Company Numbers
Energy Company Numbers is a telephone number directory service dedicated to helping UK consumers keep in touch with their energy suppliers.


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