The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming
Carbon dioxide, the largest climate crisis factor, is still setting records in 2021 and rising. NOAA states that, “Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are now comparable to where they were during the mid-Pliocene epochoffsite link, around 4.3 million years ago. During that period, sea level was about 75 feet higher than today….” and, “The effect of carbon dioxide emissions is cumulative,” said Pieter Tans, senior scientist with the Global Monitoring Laboratory. “About 40% of the Ford Model T emissions from 1911 are still in the air today.”
Methane is in second place as the most problematic greenhouse gas(GHG) because it is more powerful than carbon dioxide’s Global Warming Potential (GWP). Carbon dioxide is the largest contributor, methane second. Methane is the “natural gas” you may be using to heat your home and cook is methane. Others sources of methane include oil, coal, animal agriculture, and growing rice, among others. The oil and gas fields that pump methane out of the Earth are incredibly leaky. Will leaky gasified pipes be our end?
The atmosphere we evolved in was far different. The two most abundant gases in the atmosphere, nitrogen (comprising 78% of the dry atmosphere) and oxygen (comprising 21%), exert almost no greenhouse effect. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) There were other gasses and water vapor that influenced global temperatures, but humans altered it drastically.
GHGs increased sharply again in 2020 and 2021. Atmospheric methane levels averaged 1,895.7 parts per billion (ppb) in 2021. Animal agriculture is a big methane contributor. Opinions of percentage vary, but one paper cites 15.7% globally. There are many honest uncertainties as well as discrepancies between measuring methods that indicate actual methane coming from animal agriculture is higher than agencies are reporting. The best representation is the graph on your right from Our World In Data. It is more telling and precise than the explanations we see on agency websites that are very uncomfortable to say anything that upsets the politically powerful animal agriculture industry.
Green Vegans’ response? Choose to commit to our vegan human ecology.
The Climate Crisis Goes Beyond the Air
Atmospheric warming” isn’t the only issue related to greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis. And, we think of this happening where we live, but most of the newly trapped heat is in the oceans where the carbon dioxide has passed into the water causing a 26% increase in oceanic acidity. It is dissolving the shells of clams, oysters and smaller benthic creatures that support the oceanic food chain. So it’s not just elephants and people who are dying from drought, fires. Humans are fleeing failed crops. Hunger and high food prices create social and political instability.
Green Vegans focuses on methane because reducing it will have the greatest benefit in the shortest time. Carbon dioxide degrades slowly over hundreds to thousands of years while methane degrades significantly in the first ten to twenty years (sources vary). Efforts to reduce carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and others are still critical. Some may feel overwhelmed by the overwhelming trend towards climate disaster, but it is important to remember, this is now about reducing the harm, to ending it. Everything we do matters.
“Going vegan”, using less electricity that is sourced from natural-gas, and choosing public transportation are powerful ways we can slow the unfolding global climate crisis that is impacting all life on Earth.
Peoples’ Climate Mobilization – past advocacy
Green Vegans and other vegan organizations rallied and marched in the Global Peoples Climate Mobilization held on March 29, 2017, in Seattle. We also carried out three large vegan banners in the 2014 Climate March.