Who are the major contributors

Countries do not emit equal amounts of CO2. Although there are several ways that CO2 can enter the atmosphere, such as through the burning of wood for fuel and deforestation, most of the CO2 is added through the burning of fossil fuels. The most common activities that burn fossil fuels for energy are industrial processes, energy production, and transportation. Thus, it is the developed countries that contribute mainly to global warming.

Another major source of CO2 is from changes in land use. The biggest impact is seen where forested areas are cut down and replaced by grasslands to graze cattle, farms for agriculture, or urban areas. Many of these areas include the world's rain forests, which store immense amounts of CO2 in their biomass. While the CO2 is stored in the trees' trunk and leaves, it is kept out of the atmosphere. If the forest is burned down, it not only releases all the stored CO2 to the atmosphere, but it

The Top 20 Carbon Dioxide Emitters

India Indonesia Brazil — China ~~ Mexico France Iran Ukraine Spain

Italy |

Korea United Kingdom Germany South Africa Japan Russia Saudi Arabia Australia Canada United States —

CO2 (tonnes per capita)

O Infobase Publishing

This graph shows the world's main CO2 polluters. These values reflect the world carbon dioxide emissions from the use of fossil fuels as of 2004 (the most recent available). (U.S. Department of Energy)

takes away the natural carbon storage reservoir that the trees actually were, making it so that future CO2 will not be able to be stored there. This problem is significant in Africa, Asia, and South America.

One of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels for energy and emitters of CO2 is industrial farming. Conventional food production and distribution require a huge amount of energy. Roughly 10 percent of the energy used annually in the United States is by the food industry. According to a study conducted in 2002 by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, three calories of energy were needed to cre ate one calorie of edible food. Some foods, however, take even more, such as grain-fed beef, which requires 35 calories for every calorie of beef produced. Even worse, that estimate does not take into account the energy used in processing and transporting the food. With those two variables taken into account, another seven to 10 calories of input energy to produce just one calorie of food must be added. The biggest user of fossil fuel energy in industrial farming is for chemicals. Up to 40 percent of the energy used in the food system goes toward the production of artificial fertilizers and pesticides, which are derived from atmospheric nitrogen and natural gas. Their production and distribution takes an average of 5.5 gallons (20.8 l) of fossil fuels per acre. The transportation of food is another major user of fossil fuels. The sectors that emit the largest amounts of CO2 include the following:

• Industrial processes (16.8 percent)

• Transportation fuels (14 percent)

• Agricultural byproducts (12.5 percent)

• Fossil fuel retrieval, processing, and distribution (11.3 percent)

• Residential, commercial, and other sources (10.3 percent)

• Land use and biomass burning (10 percent)

• Waste disposal and treatment (3.4 percent)

This includes activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, land use change, livestock manure management, paddy rice farming, wetland changes, pipeline losses, covered vented landfill emissions which leach methane, vented septic systems, the use of chlorofluorocar-bons (CFCs) in refrigeration systems and halons in fire suppression systems and manufacturing processes, and agricultural activities such as the use of fertilizers that lead to higher nitrous oxide concentrations.

In October 2008, scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography released disturbing news. The compound, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), used in the manufacture of flat panel TVs, computer displays, microcircuits, and solar panels is 17,000 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Not only that, but new analytical techniques have allowed scientists to measure the amount of this gas in the atmosphere. (It had been estimated to have been less than 1,200 metric tons in 2006.)

The new technology shows that in fact it was 4,200 metric tons in 2006. In 2008, there was around 5,400 metric tons in the atmosphere, an amount increasing at close to 11 percent a year.

Another major concern with global warming is the massive release of methane. A greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2, it is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed. As the Arctic becomes warmer, massive amounts of methane are bubbling to the surface. This has been documented in the East Siberian Sea. Methane is also being released from thawing permafrost and frozen tundra in Siberia. This mechanism is the same one that scientists believe may have ended past ice ages. Recent discoveries have also revealed the existence of a vast band of methane hydrate ice along the world's continental slopes at 1,640 feet (500 m) depth.

There has been a drastic increase in CO2 emissions since 2000 by China, which is responsible for most of the global growth in emissions from 2000 to the present. Emissions from Russia have actually decreased due to more efficient energy use, and CO2 emissions from industry in Europe have been roughly stabilized since 1994.

The peak in Asia that China has recently set, however, is a sign of the beginning of industrialization in China during their progress toward becoming a developed country. Over the time period of2000 to 2010, it is predicted that China will continue to increase its CO2 emissions due to rapid construction of old-fashioned power plants. According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the largest producer of CO2 emissions since 2006 has been China with an estimated annual production of 6,200 megatons, followed by the United States with 5,800 megatons. Another country rapidly rising in significance as an emitter of CO2 is India. They are currently the fourth largest emitter. As they continue to industrialize and develop, they will continue to add significantly to the problem.

Many developing countries are trying to elevate their standards of living today by becoming more industrialized. This presents a problem with the global warming issue; especially if developed countries cut back but developing countries do not. Unfortunately, right now there are no international agreements in place to handle this inequity. While the Kyoto Protocol deals with the issue of greenhouse gases, one of its shortcomings is that it lets China and India off the hook of being held accountable for their CO2 emissions during modernization.

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