Global What? Control Possibilities of CO2 and Other Greenhouse Gases

[+] Author and Article Information
K. J. Springer

Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX 78228

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power 113(3), 440-447 (Jul 01, 1991) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2906250 History: Received September 01, 1990; Online April 24, 2008


Global what? is a frequent response by those who first hear of the potential for global warming, global climate change, and global catastrophe, potentially brought on by excessive greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere. The principal greenhouse gas, CO2 , is joined by methane, N2 O, and other trace gases in absorbing infrared radiation, which would otherwise escape into space, a process thought to be responsible for gradual increase in temperature that will melt ice caps and raise ocean levels. This paper discusses control possibilities that could be considered once there is agreement that CO2 must be controlled. Many of the responses to the energy crisis of 1974 are applicable for CO2 control. A variety of technologies, energy sources, and ideas are offered that, in combination, could be the basis for a global energy policy. Conversion and replacement of coal, oil, and eventually natural gas fired electric power plants with other energy sources such as nuclear, solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal, could significantly reduce CO2 emissions. There are, however, no good alternatives to fossil fuels used in transportation that significantly reduce CO2 emissions. Of all the fossil fuels, natural gas has the least CO2 production. Electric vehicles and hydrogen-fueled engines are future possibilities, but the electricity for the electric cars and for making hydrogen must be from nonfossil fuel driven generators. Conservation, efficiency, and tax incentives are other parts of a control strategy, once the amount of control considered necessary is established. Renewed interest in nonfossil fuel energy sources and their research and development is obviously needed.

Copyright © 1991 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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