Emissions Enigma: Answering your burning questions - Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Emissions Enigma: Answering your burning questions

February 15, 2022

What am I? Humans create an abundance of me, but no human wants me. I’m everywhere, but no one ever sees me. There’s no place on Earth I haven’t been, but I’ve never walked, driven, flown, swam, or sailed. 

Carbon! Chances are, you are creating a lot of it in your daily life, or at least perpetuating it’s creation. For the first time in 400,000 years, carbon dioxide levels are higher than ever and you only have to look at how much our seasons have changed to see the impact. If everyone contributes everyday, who’s responsible for getting rid of it, and how do we go about cleaning the air?

Ironically, global warming is largely individual. In conjunction with international efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5* C through greenhouse gas removal (GGR), by taking responsibility for your own footprint and making a few small changes to your routine, we can achieve this goal and save our planet. 

In this article:


Where do carbon emissions come from anyway?

Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, solid waste, trees/other biomaterials, and as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement). According to the EPA, the most common sources of these emissions are transportation (35%), electricity (31%)  and industry (16%). Think about your morning commute, next-day shipping deliveries, and Netflix binging for example. These are small acts that when repeated by millions of people have a massive impact.   


Is carbon really all that bad? Warmer winters doesn’t seem like a bad trade...

No, carbon isn’t inherently bad, in fact it is a naturally occurring gas in our atmosphere, that Earth is equipped to filter out through the carbon cycle. Though since the Industrial Revolution, the major uptick in CO2 emissions has directly affected the steady increase in global temperature. 

According to the EPA, excessive human contribution has altered the carbon cycle, “...both by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere, and by influencing the ability of natural sinks, like forests and soils, to remove and store CO2 from the atmosphere”. 

Disrupting the carbon cycle is more dangerous than you may think. The rate at which these sinks absorb carbon is set, and we have already over saturated the environment to the point it cannot clean carbon fast enough to keep up with human activity. 

So what happens as a result of our over-saturation? We end up with an overabundance of carbon in our atmosphere that traps heat and contributes to negative effects on the entire planet- humans and animals alike. In short, we need to do more.


Why is it important to remove carbon?

In 2019 alone, 80% of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the US were from carbon dioxide (EPA). That translates to around 36.44 billion tons of CO2 dumped into the atmosphere, where it will exist for hundreds of years, acting as a “heat trapping blanket across the entire atmosphere” (Columbia). 

CO2 being emitted by a factory in the United States

Simply put, global temperature is a delicate balance between how much energy goes in versus how much energy goes out. Unfortunately, this conversation doesn’t stop at just temperature fluctuations. There are negative effects from global warming that scientists have predicted will drastically affect countless ecosystems, and change the lives and livelihoods of the beings that live there. 

The World Economic Forum provides more in depth information if you’re interested in learning more about the global impact of an uncontrolled rise in CO2


Yes, preventative measures can be taken, but how are we going to clean the air?

Bottom line: there is too much carbon in our atmosphere, and it needs to be removed as quickly as possible, to prevent further damage to life on this planet. CO2 capture and sequestration includes different technologies that can significantly reduce emissions from stationary sources. 

Traditionally, it is removed from the atmosphere when absorbed by plants as part of the biological carbon cycle. You may be thinking, how long does it take to grow a tree?? One of Neutrl’s partners in climate change action, Running Tide, is piggybacking off of this natural process, but accelerating it. 

Kelp grows and absorbs CO2 20x faster than trees, and takes up no land real estate. At the end of its growth stage, the kelp and absorbed CO2 is sunk deep in the ocean where it will be sequestered for thousands to millions of years. Poof! Problem solved. At Neutrl, we fund frontier carbon removal technologies that are scalable, and effective at reversing climate change. 

For more on carbon removal methods, check out current geoengineering efforts led by our other projects. 


So how can I be better? What are emissions “best practices” moving forward?  

Don’t worry, we aren’t here to tell you to sell your car, or to live by candlelight. At this point, the key is to reduce our personal footprints where possible, and to take steps to prevent future generation of CO2. 

For now, Neutrl’s corner of this topic surrounds offsetting shipping emissions. Our goal was to give people a way to shift daily habits, like online shopping, to make them more positive. We have created a marketplace for people like you: those who care about the environment and are ready to take small, yet impactful decisions to change the world. 

Good news is that sustainable brands are on the rise, and we offer a risk-free solution for any ecommerce brand to make initiatives toward reducing their impact. Shop cool brands when you #getneutrl, and be sure to reach out and tell us which brands you’d like to see Get Neutrl. 

FAQ

Want to learn more?
FAQs CO2 and Carbon Emissions

What is carbon?

Carbon is the sixth most abundant element on Earth, and a main ingredient in carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that traps heat close to Earth, made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms.


Is all carbon bad?

No. Carbon and carbon dioxide are necessary for life on planet Earth. Too much carbon dioxide, however, is harmful because it stifles environmental growth as temperatures rise.


What is carbon removal (sequestration)?

Although there are multiple ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere, the goal is to capture and sequester it permanently using either natural or high-tech strategies.


Why are carbon emissions bad?

Climate change due to oversaturation of carbon emissions is harmful as it leads to extreme weather, wildfires, droughts and food supply disruptions affecting humans, plants and animals.

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