What Are Greenhouse Gases?
Gases that absorb and trap heat in the atmosphere are called “greenhouse gases.” As the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere increases, the amount of heat trapped by the atmosphere also increases, causing the overall warming of the planet. This warming is referred to as global warming. The various impacts from global warming are referred to as climate change.
The major greenhouse gases include ozone, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons. They come from both natural processes as well as human activities, though increases in the human-made greenhouse gases are most responsible for disrupting the balance of the atmosphere.
Greenhouse Gases in Our Region
In our region, nearly 50% of our greenhouse gas pollution comes from transportation – cars, trucks, trains, ships, etc. To help our region do its part and more to protect the climate, we are focusing our efforts on reducing pollution from the transportation sector.
The following are the major greenhouse gases in our region:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2): Carbon dioxide enters te atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil), solid waste, trees and wood products, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement).
- Fluorinated gases: Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes. Fluorinated gases are sometimes used as substitutes for stratospheric ozone-depleting substances (e.g., chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, and halons). These gases are typically emitted in smaller quantities, but because they are potent greenhouse gases, their release into the air is also important.
- Methane (CH4): Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices and by the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills.
- Nitrous oxide (N2O): Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste.