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Carbon Dioxide

     Hydrocarbon Pollution from Vehicle Exhaust Vehicle exhaust contains a number of airborne pollutants that adversely affect the health of animals and plants and the chemical nature of the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon emissions, two of the major components of vehicle exhaust, contribute significantly to global warming and are produced as a by-product of the combustion of petroleum-based fuels. Elevated carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon levels cause sunlight to be reflected and trapped within the atmosphere, which slowly raises the temperature of the atmosphere.

     Warming the Earth The greenhouse effect refers to the way in which gases in the Earth’s atmosphere warm the Earth like the glass roof of a greenhouse-by letting sunlight in but keeping the reflected heat energy trapped inside. These naturally occurring gases, notably carbon dioxide and water vapor, are called greenhouse gases.

     One impact that the burning of fossil fuels has had on the Earth’s environment has been the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere. The amount of atmospheric CO2 apparently remained stable for millennia, at about 260 ppm (parts per million), but over the past 100 years it has increased to 350 ppm. The significance of this change is its potential for raising the temperature of the Earth through the process known as the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere prevents the escape of outgoing long-wave radiation from the Earth to outer space; as more heat is produced and less escapes, the temperature of the Earth increases.

     A significant global warming of the atmosphere would have profound environmental effects. It would speed the melting of polar ice caps, raise sea levels, change the climate regionally and globally, alter natural vegetation, and affect crop production. These changes would, in turn, have an enormous impact on human civilization. Since 1850 there has been a mean rise in global temperature of about 1° C (1.8° F). Most scientists have predicted that rising levels of CO2 and other “greenhouse gases” will cause temperatures to continue to increase, with estimates ranging from 2° to 6° C (4° to 11° F) by the mid-21st century. However, some scientists who research climate effects and trends dispute the theories of global warming, and attribute the most recent rise to normal temperature fluctuations.



Waste is a human concept. In nature nothing is wasted, for everything is part of a continuous cycle. Even the death of a creature provides nutrients that will eventually be reincorporated in the chain of life.

~Denis Hayes