Global warming – High energy consumption is not the problem

First off, the planet is warming up. For those skeptics out there, here is the data from Wikipedia:

So we are slowly approaching 1ºC increase with respect to 1880.

Now to the point; Whenever people talk about global warming, inevitably the conversation drifts off to greenhouse gasses. Just do a Google search for global warming, and count how many articles immediately start talking about CO2.

However it seems too incredible that nobody ever talks about the direct contribution to this temperature increase by humans just burning stuff (oil mostly).

According to the IEA the world estimated daily consumption of oil is 93 million barrels. Each barrel releases 1.7MWh. Doing the maths:

93e6 * 1.7e6 * 3600 = 5.69e17 Joules daily. Convert this to W/m2:

5.69e17/24/3600/510e12= 0.0129 W/m2

Note that I am using 510 million squared kilometers as the Earth’s surface (taken from Google web answers).

Now this other Wikipedia page says that the Earth receives from the sun 235 W/m2… WHAT?!?!? Even if we were to use all types of human energy consumption we would only get three times as much as from oil alone (around 0.037 W/m2). So humans directly heat the Earth around 6000 times less than the sun.

Our direct contributions are so small, that it would be worth more studying the Sun radiation emission variations across time, than people using energy.

But you know what this means right? This means we can still increase our energy consumption at least as much as 100 times more without really affecting the planet. This means you could keep your AC on all the time you want, as long as you use renewable energy. You could even use your electric car day and night, and still nothing bad would happen. And, yes, even though you probably won’t believe: we could have the whole planet using as much energy as an average person in the US.


Author: Andres Paez

Tech’er, writer, programmer, life enthusiast.

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