It’s no secret that the power industry is suffering from a chronic CO2 problem.
The problem has been linked to the burning of coal, gas and oil for electricity generation.
And it is a major factor in the massive greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, which are responsible for over a third of global warming.
But until recently, the problem was largely ignored in the mainstream climate-change conversation, despite the fact that we’ve known for decades that the CO2 pollution problem was a major problem.
As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) website explains, “CO2 is the dominant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.”
But it’s been almost invisible in the climate debates until recently.
As a result, climate change skeptics have largely overlooked the issue for decades.
They have focused on the fact the problem doesn’t exist, or on how CO2 levels are changing, instead of the actual CO2 in the air or ocean.
But now, as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other climate experts are working to quantify the problem, a new study by a team of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and elsewhere provides the first detailed analysis of the issue.
This is the first time that scientists have systematically studied the global CO2 emissions of power plants using satellite imagery and atmospheric data to understand how emissions from power plants contribute to the global warming problem.
They found that the major drivers of CO2-dioxide emissions are not only the burning and use of fossil fuels, but also industrial and urban sources.
This new research shows that CO2 is not the only problem driving global warming, but the largest.
In fact, it shows that climate change is largely the result of CO 2 emissions and that power plants are responsible, the researchers wrote.
“The CO2 question is not a problem for power plants,” said lead author John Sutter, an assistant professor of atmospheric sciences at UC Berkeley.
“It’s a major concern for the environment.”
This is an important point, said Mark Jacobson, an atmospheric scientist at the University at Albany.
“CO 2 is a key player in the greenhouse gas cycle,” Jacobson said.
“That’s one of the big things that makes power plants so important.”
Jacobson and Sutter first looked at data from satellite imagery from a power plant in California and compared that to measurements from the same plant taken at another location in New York.
The data showed that power plant emissions were responsible for a greater share of CO-2 emissions than measured at the same location, which indicates that the emissions were more concentrated there.
The team then used this data to compare power plant CO2 to CO2 measurements from other sources and other parts of the country.
The results showed that fossil fuels were the largest contributor to power plant pollution.
“What you can see from the satellite data is that the global emissions are growing at a much faster rate than the other sources,” Sutter said.
So what does that mean?
The researchers found that “industrial sources account for half of the CO 2 emitted by the power plant,” and that emissions from industrial sources were responsible “about a third” of CO levels measured at other sites in the U.S. “Industrial sources have a very large impact on the amount of CO [that is, CO 2 in the soil and atmosphere], and the amount emitted is a function of both the amount that is emitted as well as the size of the power plants that are emitting the CO,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobson noted that “it’s not like the power sector is doing a bad thing, but there’s a lot more to it than just power plants.”
“It is the CO that’s being emitted, but it’s not the CO from power generation,” Suter said.
And “industrial CO 2 is concentrated in the South Pacific and in Australia,” Jacobsson said, adding that “the U.K., New Zealand and Canada also have significant concentrations.”
Jacobssen noted that the analysis was “not an absolute, so if you’re comparing a different source of CO emissions to another, there’s going to be differences.”
But, he said, “the overall pattern is clear that the largest source of emissions is fossil fuels.”
Sutter also noted that some of the more complicated CO emissions that are responsible “have been sequestered in marine carbon stocks and in other areas of the ocean.”
So, while some of this may have changed since the last study, the analysis does show that the trend is not going away.
“We know that it’s a problem,” Suters said.
Sutter and his colleagues analyzed the data for the period from 1997 to 2013 and then compared it with a range of measurements that showed CO2 concentrations were growing.
The authors concluded that the growth in CO2 was “an inevitable result of fossil fuel emissions” and that “power plant emissions are responsible” for “more than half of global CO 2 .”