The most dominant greenhouse gas occurring has always been carbon dioxide. Due to changes made over the years methane and nitrous oxide emissions have lowered in percentages. The HFC, PFC, and SF6 emissions have risen by close to 70 percent over the past 2 decades. Here are the 10 largest sources of greenhouse gases in our environment today. 10. HCFC – 22 Production This gas started out being a replacement gas for the ozone-depleting CFC, which is until it was realized that this gas is also harmful to the environment. Thankfully HCFC-22 is slowly being phased out and a new type of gas is being used in air conditioners. 9. Mobile Combustion On and off-road vehicles are responsible for producing the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide through mobile combustion. Automobiles are one of the top causes of pollution around the world. 8. Coal Mining Methane produced in coal mines is 20 times more toxic than carbon dioxide. The methane released when coal is mined is referred to as CMM and most of it comes from ventilation emissions. While underground, this gas can cause explosions. To avoid this type of hazard, the methane is released from underground through means of ventilation. Unfortunately, this means the methane is then released into the atmosphere. 7. Iron and Steel and Metallurgical Coke Production Carbon dioxide is given off when metallurgical coke is used to make iron out of iron ore. The carbonization of coals is how metallurgical coke is produced in the first place. The amount of carbon dioxide given off by this process is amazingly high. 6. Natural Gas Systems Even though natural gas is one of the cleanest fuels available, it still poses a hazard to the environment. Carbon dioxide and methane are both still given off by systems and plants burning natural gas. Some forms of transportation have also started using natural gas as fuel. 5. Generating Electricity Burning fossil fuels to create electricity produces tons of carbon dioxide each year. This greenhouse gas is released into the air, despite means of controlling its release. Switching to wind and solar panel will greatly reduce the carbon dioxide levels produced by electrical plants. 4. Landfills The decomposition of matter produces methane. Due to the abundance of decomposing products most landfills contain, these areas are often high producers of methane. Around 40 to 60 percent of the gas produced by a landfill facility is methane. This means the more open landfills; the more methane is being created. Large landfill areas often have a gas collection system in place to prevent the release of harmful gases. 3. Enteric Fermentation Methane is produce when fermentation takes place in the digestive process of some farm animals. Mainly cows are responsible the methane levels rising. Sheep and water buffalo are two additional animals able to participate in enteric fermentation. Up to 20 times as much heat is trapped in the atmosphere by methane than is by carbon dioxide. 2. Agricultural Soil Management Managing the soil through the addition of fertilizer might be good for the plants, but it is harmful on the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide is given off when fertilizers are added to the soil. The ammonium-producing fertilizers are the ones causing nitrous oxide to be produced. The soil interacts with the ammonium and nitrification occurs. Adding microorganisms to the soil can help prevent nitrification from occurring, thus reducing the amount of nitrous oxide in the air. 1. Fossil Fuel Combustion in cars Carbon dioxide being given of by cars used to be more prevalent than it is today, but it is still a problem. More and more vehicles make it to the road, which means more carbon dioxide is given off each year as well. The switch to electric cars seems feasible in many larger cities. Until they become a larger part of the automotive industry, carbon dioxide emissions will continue to need strict regulation laws to keep the air clean. The electric power industry, transportation, and industry itself are responsible for more than half of the carbon dioxide emissions globally. Making changes to these three areas has become a priority for most organizations. Hopefully these three will eventually drop off of the list of the 10 largest sources of greenhouse gases. What do you do to reduce your impact on the environment?
Since 1989, HSA Golden has provided environmental engineering and consulting services to clients all over the world. Our practice areas include solid and hazardous waste management, waste-to-energy, site development engineering, environmental due diligence, and litigation support, among others. From governmental agencies and multinational, publicly traded corporations to smaller, single-office real estate and legal firms, we are proud of not only the relationships we have built, but also of the trust that our clients place in us.