Introduction to Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouses Gases and the Environment Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are atmospheric gases that absorb and emit infrared radiation, regulating the heat of the planet by trapping heat that would otherwise radiate back into space. This regulation process is known as the greenhouse effect. GHGs include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, nitrogen oxides and man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in aerosol sprays and refrigeration products. Since the Industrial Revolution, the burning of fossil fuels, along with the clearing of large areas of forest across the globe, has caused an increase in the release of carbon dioxide and GHGs into the atmosphere, dramatically increasing the level of greenhouse gases. Most scientists now believe that this increased production of GHGs is the single most significant factor in climate change and warn that the earth could warm by an additional 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 100 years if GHGs are not reduced. The Consequences of Climate Change and Global Warming Atmospheric modeling has shown that increasing global temperatures have already altered weather patterns. This has lead to the extinction of some animal species, caused coastal flooding, and could eventually lead to a greater frequency of severe storms. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a leading environmental action group, warmer water in the oceans pumps more energy into tropical storms, making them stronger and potentially more destructive. International Response Because of the overwhelming consensus of the international scientific community that climate change poses a major environmental threat, global initiatives now exist to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions in industrialized nations. One such global initiative, the Kyoto Protocol, has been enforced since 2005. Within the United States, federal and state policies have been created to encourage voluntary GHG reduction projects. On September 22, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule for mandatory reporting of GHG from large GHG emissions sources in the United States. Carbon Offsetting to Reduce Greenhouse GasesCarbon offsets are credits for reductions in GHG made at another location (e.g., wind and solar farms) which create renewable energy and reduce the need for fossil-fuel powered energy. To help promote carbon offsetting programs, engineering firms such as HSA Golden have provided comprehensive environmental engineering consulting services to both national and international clientele. By partnering with established local specialty firms and top industry experts, HSA Golden has created environmental engineering solutions for greenhouse gas and carbon offset applications worldwide. By designing and implementing GHG management systems , HSA Golden has helped its clients achieve beneficial results from the reduction of GHG emissions. These benefits include creating new revenue streams from the sale of carbon credits and the ability to increase production capacity without violating environmental regulations. Other benefits to clients include electric bill reductions by providing a free source of energy using biogas and the prevention of groundwater and surface water contamination. For more information on greenhouse gas reduction and carbon offsets, along with a complete menu of additional environmental engineering and consulting services, please visit