Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere matters
Science proves that the Global Warming effect is caused by the concentration of greenhouse gases in
the atmosphere. But what is a greenhouse gas and how does it warm the earth?
We know that a certain concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is necessary for life as
we know it. As Dr Phil McFadden explains, "the planet surface is about 33°C warmer than it would be
without the greenhouse effect". So we need some greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to make human
life comfortable. However the converse is also true, to great a concentration of greenhouse gases in
the atmosphere will warm the planet beyond the comfort zone for humans.
Over the last 200 years mankind has significantly added to the concentration of greenhouse gases in
The reason a greenhouse gas warms the planet is the number of atoms. The 3-Atoms in Carbon Dioxide
trap and emit the suns infrared energy, causing global warming.
Read more of the science
There six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol and included in the
GHG Protocol Corporate Standard
are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons
(HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
The atomic structure of these gases means they have different powers of trapping and emitting
energy. The Global Warming Potential is the scale by which the greenhouse gases warming effect
is measured. The measurement compares the warming effect to carbon dioxide. Table 1 shows
Methane has 25 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide and lasts 12 years in the atmosphere.
Table 1 - Global Warming Potential
The message from science is clear - we urgently need to act now to reduce global carbon emissions and help stop damaging climate change.
The evidence linking human carbon emissions to global warming is clear. We need to make deep cuts in carbon emissions in order to avoid the irreversible consequences of damaging climate change.
Those consequences become severe once temperatures have risen above 2 degrees Celsius. We must and can avoid this much warming.