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Climate Change and the Role of the Oil Industry in Combating Co2 Emmissions

Autor:   •  April 9, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  3,606 Words (15 Pages)  •  676 Views

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1. INTRODUCTION.

Yes the climate is changing, and yes we are all aware of its effects on humans, animals and even plants. What has brought about this work is how amazing it is when you ponder over the activities that cause this change that is endangering the existence of our planet. Not trying to ignore that natural activities also contribute to climate change, but it has been human activities but it has been human activities that have greatly contributed to this change in climatic conditions. Activities that take us around to carry on our daily businesses, heat our homes, provide drugs for health, foster economic development and generally to make this world a better place for us to live. All this we do releasing co2 into the atmosphere which has been the main reason behind changing climates. These emissions of co2 come from burning of fossil fuel from our cars, generators, heaters, etc.

At the fore front of this are oil and gas companies as it's their products that seem to be making our world inhabitable. The irony in this is that we can't do without them, because even if we are endangered from the use of their products these products also make the world a better place for us to live. The problem this brings is how do we effectively enjoy the benefits of this product which nature has so freely given us and at the same time preserve the world (nature) from the damaging effects that accrue from their usage. In a bid to do this, this work will be looking into the concept of climate change and the roles oil companies can play in reducing its co2 emissions thereby solving the problem of climate change. The work will be dwelling on climate change, the effects and also try to provide logical proves that our planet's climate is actually changing. It will go on to talk on how these oil companies are contributing to climate change and the roles they can play in combating co2 emissions which is the actual cause of the problem, also looking at existing climate policies.

2. CO2 and GREEN HOUSE EFFECTS

CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a gas that consists of an atom of oxygen and carbon dioxide each, on bonding together the CO2 molecule can absorb infrared radiation and vibrate. As co2 can absorb heat rays it makes it a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases are gases that have molecules and are composed of more than two atoms that are loosely bound together enough to vibrate and absorb heat. The greenhouse effect is simply a process of keeping the earth warm by preventing the heat from the sun from completely escaping back into space. Co2 acts as a greenhouse gas because it captures some of the heat from the sun and keeps it in the atmosphere thereby heating the earth's surface. The more co2 in the earth's atmosphere, the more heat from the sun is trapped and vice versa.

3. CLIMATE CHANGE

The entire buzz about climate change or global warming seems to increase by the day, and never looks like it's going to stop in our life time no matter what we do to combat it. "Something that once looked like it was for the future (thousands of years to come) decades ago is now here with us as we see the future unfolding before our eyes" (Directgov, 2012). But what exactly is climate change? In general terms, climate change is the change in weather patterns over a long period of time. These changes could be a warmer, colder, wetter or drier atmospheric condition. This is not the climate change that has got the world we live in panicking. It is the global increase in the temperature on earth and severe weather conditions and its effects that has got us all panicking. Naturally climate change is expected is expected to take place over thousands of years at a very slow rate, but the reverse has been the case and hence the reason for the panic. "The term climate change refers to a change in the average state of our climate and/or the variability of its properties" (Met Office, 2012). The earth's climate changes on a natural course over billions of years of its existence. However, the climate change referred to here is one that we have witnessed for the last hundred years which has been caused by human activities. The earth's temperature has risen by almost 1 degree Celsius over this period. This may look relatively low, but it's really a large amount when it has to do with the climate.

The 18th and 19th century brought discoveries that helped explain recent climate change. Carbon dioxide was discovered by Joseph Black in 1753, and in 1827 Jean-Baptiste Fourier postulated that the earth was being warmer than it should normally be and this was caused by an atmospheric effect." It was Svante August Arrhenius who was able to come up with a more conclusive explanation im1896, saying that the carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal enhances the earth's greenhouse effect and lead to global warming" (Directgov, 2012). As time went on, from the 1950s carbon dioxide measurements were carried out and results over the decades indicated an increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere on a yearly basis. As the years went by, computer simulations and climate models where developed that confirmed rising temperatures and links between the rising co2 levels and global warming. Below are graphs that show increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and temperature change over the last years.

Fig i

Fig ii

Figure i shows that from the early 60s co2 levels in the atmosphere has steadily been on the increase and this in turn has resulted in increasing temperature as shown by figure ii. These rising co2 levels and temperature has been behind the changing climate we are witnessing today.

3.1 CAUSES OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

The changing climatic conditions can be traced to two main sources, which are: natural sources and human sources. Climatic conditions vary naturally as a result of the manner of interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere, changes in energy that is gotten from the sun and changes in the earth's orbit. However, as earlier stated it is human activities that has led to a rapid change in climatic conditions rather than natural causes. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that the change in climatic conditions over recent decades has been caused by activities of humans. This work classifies human activities that

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