CO2 Concentrations

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•  Recent increases in atmospheric CO2 are largely due to increases in the combustion of fossilised organic matter

While greenhouse gases occur naturally, man is increasing greenhouse gas emission via a number of activities, including:

  • Deforestation – the removal of trees means that less carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere via photosynthesis
  • Increased farming / agriculture – this involves land clearing for cattle grazing, also ruminant cattle produce methane 

The greenhouse gas that is increasing most rapidly in the atmosphere is carbon dioxide and the main cause is combustion

  • When fossil fuels (e.g. coal, oil, gas) are combusted to release energy, carbon dioxide gas is released as a by-product
  • The increased reliance on fossil fuels following the industrial revolution has resulted in ~38% increase in CO2 levels
  • There are now efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by exploiting alternative energy sources (e.g. solar power)

Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Sector

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(Data represents the distribution of greenhouse gas emission by economic sector in Canada, 2013)

A Year in the Life of Earth’s Carbon Dioxide (NASA)

Region-specific time lapses can be viewed at the NASA website (click here)