PopSci.com's guide to the vapors that are making Earth more toasty
Posted 03.17.2009 at 2:51 pm
2. Carbon Dioxide
Despite getting all the press, carbon dioxide only ranks as the second largest contributor to global warming. For those who managed to stay awake while listening to Al Gore’s relentless monotone, you can skip ahead to number one. But for all of those who drifted off, let’s reiterate that CO2 is a by-product of the combustion of fossil fuels as well as cellular respiration, and carbon dioxide generated by human industry contributes to the warming of the planet.
: Drax coal-fired power plant, North Yorkshire England, courtesy of thewritingzone via Flickr.com
Despite all the talk about carbon capture, carbon footprints and carbon trading, carbon dioxide only causes nine to 26 percent of the greenhouse effect. That means that the majority of warming results from gases with a much lower media profile than the paparazzi-trailed starlet of global warming, CO2. In honor of last weeks’ report in the Journal of Geophysical Research, which identified a brand new greenhouse gas, PopSci.com counts down the gases that bring us bikini weather in Antarctica and beachfront property in Montana.