• 10 hours Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High
  • 14 hours Iraq’s Giant Majnoon Oilfield Attracts Attention Of Supermajors
  • 16 hours South Iraq Oil Exports Close To Record High To Offset Kirkuk Drop
  • 19 hours Iraqi Forces Find Mass Graves In Oil Wells Near Kirkuk
  • 19 hours Chevron Joint Venture Signs $1.7B Oil, Gas Deal In Nigeria
  • 20 hours Iraq Steps In To Offset Falling Venezuela Oil Production
  • 22 hours ConocoPhillips Sets Price Ceiling For New Projects
  • 3 days Shell Oil Trading Head Steps Down After 29 Years
  • 4 days Higher Oil Prices Reduce North American Oil Bankruptcies
  • 4 days Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 4 days $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 4 days Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 4 days Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 4 days Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 4 days Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 4 days Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 5 days Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 5 days Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 5 days Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 5 days Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 5 days Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 5 days U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 5 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 6 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 6 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 6 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 6 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 6 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
  • 6 days World’s Biggest Private Equity Firm Raises $1 Billion To Invest In Oil
  • 7 days Oil Prices Tank After API Reports Strong Build In Crude Inventories
  • 7 days Iraq Oil Revenue Not Enough For Sustainable Development
  • 7 days Sudan In Talks With Foreign Oil Firms To Boost Crude Production
  • 7 days Shell: Four Oil Platforms Shut In Gulf Of Mexico After Fire
  • 7 days OPEC To Recruit New Members To Fight Market Imbalance
  • 7 days Green Groups Want Norway’s Arctic Oil Drilling Licenses Canceled
  • 7 days Venezuelan Oil Output Drops To Lowest In 28 Years
  • 7 days Shale Production Rises By 80,000 BPD In Latest EIA Forecasts
  • 8 days GE Considers Selling Baker Hughes Assets
  • 8 days Eni To Address Barents Sea Regulatory Breaches By Dec 11
  • 8 days Saudi Aramco To Invest $300 Billion In Upstream Projects

Breaking News:

Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High

Alt Text

Oil Tycoon Hamm Slams EIA’s Overoptimistic Shale Forecasts

Shale billionaire and chief executive…

Alt Text

Don’t Back U.S. Shale To Keep Oil Prices Down

The common assumption that U.S.…

Alt Text

Who's Next? Venezuela's Collapse Puts These Nations At Risk

While investors have been ignoring…

The Top 5 Non-Energy Sources of Climate Change

The Top 5 Non-Energy Sources of Climate Change

On June 2, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a sweeping plan to rein in carbon pollution from the nation’s coal-fired power plants. It was the most significant step his administration has taken to address climate change. With the stroke of a pen, he has done more to tackle greenhouse gases (GHG) than any president in U.S. history.

To be sure, coal -- along with natural gas, and oil – is one of the main culprits causing climate change, but there are others you don’t often hear about. (see chart from EPA).

Chart from EPA

Here are the top five contributors to greenhouse gas emissions from non-energy sources. Taken together, they account for about one-third of global emissions.

Related Article: Throwing Energy Away – From Trash to Electricity

1.    Deforestation. The degradation and destruction of the world’s forests is one of the main sources of CO2, accounting for almost one-fifth of total GHG emissions worldwide. In Indonesia, vast swathes of tropical forest are cleared to plant palm oil, where it is used in everything from cooking oil, to ice cream, to lipstick, to biofuels. It is a highly versatile crop, but the demand for it is creating incentives to chop down Indonesia’s forests. In Brazil, the main driver of deforestation is the clearing of land for cattle ranching. Deforestation in the Amazon specifically for cattle ranching alone accounts for 3.4 percent of global emissions.

2.    Methane from livestock. The impact of cattle doesn’t come just from chopping down trees. Cows are also a significant source of methane (CH4). The agricultural sector accounts for 14 to 18 percent of global GHG emissions and much of that comes in the form of methane, which is more than 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. 80 percent of the agricultural methane comes from livestock – from cow manure, burps, and farts.

3.    Soil carbon. The release of carbon dioxide from soil is a major source of global emissions that isn’t often talked about. When farm land is plowed in order to plant crops, CO2 that was previously stored in the soil is released into the atmosphere. Modern agriculture involves intensive disruption of topsoil, and this alone is responsible 4.4 percent of global emissions

4.    Landfills and wastewater. Another source of GHG emissions that flies below the radar is landfills. Waste discarded and left to rot can release huge volumes of methane when organic matter such as food decays. Also, wastewater treatment plants release methane as well as nitrous oxide (N2O), another short-lived but powerful greenhouse gas (about 100 times as potent as CO2). Taken together, waste and wastewater treatment makeup about 3 percent of global GHG emissions.

5.    Permafrost. Perhaps the most frightening sources of GHG emissions are the vast quantities of carbon dioxide and methane stored in permafrost, or permanently frozen soil. Permafrost is located mostly in the far northern hemisphere, and is frozen year round. But, as temperatures rise, some of areas may begin to thaw in summer months; by midcentury, the northern hemisphere could lose 20 to 35 percent of the permafrost area that currently exists. According to some scientists, this is the disaster scenario – as global temperatures rise, permafrost melts and releases methane, which contributes to more warming and further methane release. Current climate models do not incorporate such a catastrophic feedback loop, suggesting that even the most pessimistic projections could underestimate future warming. There is some evidence that the process is beginning, but the difficulty in measuring the release from permafrost means that data is inadequate.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • James Jacquette on June 12 2014 said:
    Interesting and informative. However, did not see anything pertinent to volcanic activity which I believed is even more important than human sources. Is this right?
  • Synapsid on June 12 2014 said:
    James Jacquette,

    Human-caused emissions of CO2 are about one hundred times as large as those from volcanism.
  • Ward on June 12 2014 said:
    Efficient current large livestock production in America has greatly reduced the number of animals needed. From 1920 to 2014 the census of cows, hogs, sheep, etc. is nearly the same, or even fewer animals. That means we feed over three times as many people for the same number of methane burps and farts!

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News