Electricity 3: CO2 Emissions: a floor report

Continued from Electricity 2: Understanding my home: How to reduce my electricity bills?

Coimbatore: a floor report

I hail from Coimbatore and since 2009 I live in Germany. Coimbatore used to be a heaven with moderate temperatures of 20°C and cool breeze all throughout the day. It used to be a pleasant place to live and was convenient to walk around. In fact, my friend and I used to walk 5km on a daily basis for about 10 years. Switch to 2019 now, average temperatures have gone above 35°C with dry and skin piercing winds. The infrastructure of the city is not equipped to survive the heat. Population explosion and drastic increase in number of vehicles aren’t helping the situation either. Given the cluster and chaos, building a green infrastructure is going to be very difficult. Vehicles have spoiled the air and the number of moving objects on the land has increased the dust. I could feel my lungs being filled with exhaust gas and I was choking. My eyes were having an irritating sensation too. There is hardly any government intervention. This was my experience visiting Coimbatore the last time in 2018. The whole time was so overwhelming that I felt like sitting on a stack of card castle and someone was just about to remove the bottom most foundation card. Whenever I think of bringing up kids in the city that I grew, it feels like running against a wall. The city is simply going out of hands. I don’t need numbers or scientific studies to prove that environment is being harmed. India in the recent years has started seeing deaths from heat waves. A person in Germany might not understand this yet, as the air is still fresh, but the situation is changing there too.


Source: Our World in Data[i]

In Germany, the last four years seem to make a statement. Winters aren’t that cold anymore and couple of summer months are unbearable with temperatures going above 40°C. Moreover the houses are not built for summer which makes it difficult to sustain the summer heat. The trend is alarming in a way that every New Year is unpredictable than the year before: Temperature swings are terrible. Soon world over, this trend might reach a tipping point and the next “Black plague” might result.

Why is CO2 harmful?

The strange thing in our world, which applies to many things, is that a healthy reality or a solution is in most cases in the middle. There is a saying “Too much of anything is good for nothing” – the contrary is also true “Too less is also too bad”. Reality is about striking that equilibrium. This setup basically summarizes the issue for CO2 too. Currently we are having too much of it. Too much of CO2 increases Earth’s average temperature and too less of it will freeze us[ii]. (Read Greenhouse Effect[iii])

How much of CO2 is released in the atmosphere today?

As of 2010, yearly over 30 billion tonnes of CO2 and upwards are released year by year into the atmosphere, with the energy sector contributing to about 50% of it.


Source: Our World in Data[iv]

What level of CO2 is permissible in the atmosphere?

All those 30 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted, increases the number of particles of CO2 in the air. It’s called parts per Million. Before 2014, the acceptable limit was defined at 400 ppm[v] which is already crossed now. Now a maximum tolerable level is pegged at 600ppm[vi]. As of  Jan 2019, the world ppm was at 411ppm[vii]. The cities will be the first one to die. A latest report says that Seoul, South Korea; Guangzhou, China; and New York City have the three highest carbon footprints of cities worldwide[viii]. Only Seoul emits about 30000 tons per year and a specific study says that in Seoul Metropolitan Subway (SMS), the indoor CO2 levels could reach up to 4000ppm[ix].

PrtScr capture

Source: http://www.CO2.earth

To avoid climate change scientists say that the ideal limit is 350 ppm[x].

The year 2050 is a global phenomenon for Global-warming. To avoid atmospheric temperature increase by 2°C we need to cumulatively emit less than 1 trillion or 1000 Billion tonnes by 2050[xi]. Since 1750 till 2009, the world had already added 0.5 Trillion tonnes C02 into the atmosphere, of which about half of it 234 tonnes was added just between 2000 and 2006.

Today in 2019 the total CO2 emission in the atmosphere is about 800 billion tonnes!!


Source: Statista.com[xii]

We are just 200 billion tonnes away to cause a disaster!

This is the reason why many scientific communities are showing Red flag! With our speed, we will cause the problem in just about 5 years! To reverse the trend, we have to reduce our usage by so much that we need to make this 200 billion tonnes CO2 emission span out for the next 31 years! Sounds like fantasy right? That exactly is our problem!

To be continued: Electricity 4: C02 Emissions – the Endgame

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Recommended Reads:

  1. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/limits-on-greenhouse-gas-emissions/
  3. https://www.dw.com/en/where-air-pollution-hits-hardest/a-47907072