Topic: Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Date: March 27, 2009
Host David Sternberg: In 1824 scientists discovered that the greenhouse gasses in the earth's atmosphere trap heat - - which is needed to keep our world's climate livable. However, since the Industrial Revolution, we have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
David Sternberg: Hello, this is David Sternberg from EPA’s mid-Atlantic region for Environment Matters, our series of podcasts.
Megan Goold, an environmental scientist, with the EPA is here to help us understand what's happening – where are these greenhouse gases coming from -- and what's being done about it.
Host David Sternberg: Megan, why is it important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
Megan Goold: Greenhouses emitted by our activities remain the atmosphere for decades, to centuries, and therefore it is virtually certain that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will continue to rise over the next decades. Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations tend to warm the planet and it's very likely that this is contributing to global climate change.
Host David Sternberg: What are the major sources of greenhouse gases?
Megan Goold: The greenhouse gas we hear most about is carbon dioxide, and that primarily comes from burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. We use these fuels to heat our homes, power our electronics and our lighting, in cars, in trains, and other motorized transportation.
Host David Sternberg: What are the other sources of greenhouse gases?
Megan Goold: Another greenhouse gas many people have heard of is methane, and that generally comes from livestock and landfills.
Host David Sternberg: Livestock?
Megan Goold: Yes, the digestive system and the manure of certain livestock both produce methane.
Host David Sternberg: What about landfills?
Megan Goold: Organic waste decays in landfills which produces methane, so when we throw trash away, as opposed to recycling it, this adds to the landfill gases produced.
Host David Sternberg: What is the most important thing the government is doing to control greenhouse gases?
Megan Goold: you may have heard recently in the news that EPA is planning to ask certain facilities in the U.S. to report their greenhouse gas emissions to EPA. This rule will allow EPA to better understand where all the greenhouse gas emissions are coming from.
Host David Sternberg: And what else is government doing?
Megan Goold: In addition to the regulations, EPA has several successful voluntary programs that you may be familiar with; Energy Star is one – which provides energy efficient products and even approves energy efficiency in buildings and plants. Green Power Partnership is another one, where companies can sign on to buy renewable power such as solar or wind power, and Climate Leaders is a third partnership program where corporations sign on to quantify and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Host David Sternberg: What can ordinary citizens like me do to reduce greenhouse gases?
Megan Goold: We can all use less energy simply by turning off the lights and computers - - even unplugging computers or using a power strip, switching to more energy efficient appliances and lighting, using less water, and recycling all will reduce greenhouse gases. We can also drive less, bike and walk more – you’ll be healthier and so will the environment.
Host David Sternberg: For more Information on this topic, go to http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/
Thanks for joining us on environment matters.