How does a CO2 ton look like?

How does a CO2 ton look like?

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Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is known as a Greenhouse Gas because it’s a gas which is able to absorb and radiate heat. Without CO2 in our atmosphere the Earth’s average temperature would be at -18 °C. The real problem with CO2 is its excedent in our atmosphere, consequently, CO2 is contributing to increase the Planet’s average temperature. If nothing is done, we as humankind are at risk of suffering unpleasant tangible consequences during the next three decades.

That’s why it is not surprising to hear more and more frequent warnings about the record levels reached of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. It is estimated that as a result of human activities about 40.000 millions CO2 tons are released whereas the Earth can naturally absorb some 50% of this.

No matter how impressive those figures look, for most of us a CO2 ton still is an abstract concept. It’s confusing to think in tons since CO2 is a gas, even worse when we are talking about millions on tons. In order to keep the explanation about CO2 as simple as possible, it’s enough to understand that any gas has a mass, and mass weighs and occupies space. To visualize the magnitude of CO2 trapped into our atmosphere, it’s useful to compare it to more familiar indicators.

Trees:
Trees take CO2 from the air and thanks to photosynthesis, they store it into their mass and create oxygen. To remove 1 ton of CO2 from the atmosphere we would need 15,6 trees growing during 10 years approx.

Trash:
Trash has a double contamination effect: First, when the organic non-recycled waste decomposes, it creates gases like Methane and CO2 and second, waste like plastic, paper, cans that are not reused create energy to decompose and replace them. To avoid the release of 1 CO2 ton into the atmosphere, we would need to recycle 42 trash bags.

Gasoline:
Burning fossil fuels is one of the largest sources of CO2, 1 CO2 ton is equivalent to 113 gasoline gallons.

Now we can challenge our minds to imagen how many trees are needed, trash bags need to be recycled or gasoline gallons need to be saved to avoid that 20.000 million CO2 tons are released into the atmosphere every year. Trying to visualize such big figures is a good exercise to realize the problem we are facing as humankind. We can only tackle it together: States, companies and civil organizations need to work together. Discover how greenclicks is contributing to the solution!

To learn more about CO2 equivalencies see Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, to learn about the calculations methodology Calculations and References.