Go Green At Home

Go Green At Home

by Frank Y. Panol Ph.D.


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The central idea of this book is that saving energy and water saves the households money and simultaneously help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. It also aims to give readers better understanding of the green concept to enable informed participation in the current discourse pertaining to environment and climate change.

The first chapter reviews environmental issues confronting the world in general and the U.S. in particular. Chapter 2 discusses federal energy efficiency programs that relate directly with energy saving and resource conservation efforts in households.

Chapter 3 focuses on measures of saving energy at home including use of compact fluorescent lamps, taking advantage of residual heat in electric stoves, energy-efficient ways of using kitchen appliances, informed choice and use of home heating and cooling systems and others. Chapter 4 deals with conserving water inside and outside homes including use of high-efficiency toilets, low -low shower heads, etc.

The economics of energy and water use efficiency, covered in Chapter 5, quantifies the savings derived from most of the measures discussed in Chapters 3 and 4. The goal is to show in dollar terms how much households could save by following green practices at home.

The challenges of dealing with solid waste from households are examined in Chapter 6. Particular focus is given on "Pay-As-You-Throw" (PAYT) scheme in waste collection systems and fees as well as the three Rs in waste management - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Recognizing the impact of children on energy and water use at home, the author devotes Chapter 7 on educating and engaging children in green practices. Two framework proposals aimed at enhancing sustainability of green movement in the country are presented in Chapter 8 including establishment of green camps and providing tax incentives for going green at home. Proposal for establishing green camps is directed to private business sector or non-profit organizations and the government while the tax incentive proposal is directed solely to the government.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426971679
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 10/11/2011
Pages: 276
Product dimensions: 0.72(w) x 8.50(h) x 11.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


By Frank Y. Panol

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2011 Frank Y. Panol, Ph.D.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4269-7167-9

Chapter One


Global Warming

The Science

Earth is enveloped by a thin concentration of various chemical compounds called greenhouse gases (GHG) that protects the planet's surface from temperature extremes. Energy from the sun enters the atmosphere in the form of light waves. Part of this energy warms the Earth's surface and then re-radiated back into space in the form of infrared waves or heat. Portions of the outgoing infrared radiation is trapped by the GHG, a desirable phenomenon because it helps maintain the Earth's temperature to within levels suitable to sustain all life forms that inhabit the planet. The amount of infrared radiation that is trapped depends on the thickness of the GHG. The thicker the GHG concentration, the more infrared radiation it traps. While certain amount of trapped infrared radiation is beneficial, too much of it is undesirable and excessive levels could even be detrimental because it tends to raise the planet's surface temperature.

Human activities over the past century have been blamed for tending to thicken the GHG envelop due to continuous release of increasing amounts of carbon dioxide gas (CO2), the most important of the greenhouse gases. As a consequence, greater amount of infrared radiation is trapped thereby causing temperature on the Earth's surface to abnormally rise. This ongoing process of rising Earth temperature is what we now know as global warming. The negative consequence of global warming is what we commonly refer to as climate change. In the current discussions of the issue, however, global warming and climate change have been interchangeably used.

Signs of Global Warming

That global warming is happening is now dif cult to ignore. According to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, average temperatures have increased by 1.4°F (0.8°C) around the world since 1880. A number of climate studies indicate that the last two decades of the 20th century were the hottest in 400 years and possibly the warmest for several millennia. Moreover, reports of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that 11 of the past 12 years are among the dozen warmest since 1850. A report compiled between 2000 and 2004 by the multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment indicates that average temperature in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia has risen at twice the global average. The arctic ice is rapidly disappearing and it is predicted that by 2040 or earlier, the region may have its first completely ice-free summer. Glaziers and mountain snows are rapidly melting. For instance, of the 150 glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park in 1910, only 27 remain.

There are numerous other manifestations of global warming like the observed changes in ocean temperatures and the upsurge in the number of extreme weather such as severe storms and catastrophic heat waves around the world. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's 2006 book, An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming And What We Can Do About It provides extensive discussions on global warming.

Effects of Global Warming/Climate Change

Dire Predictions

Climate change is the upshot of global warming. It is climate change that poses direct threat to life on earth. Among the dire predictions on the peril of climate change as a result of global warming include: a) rise in sea level due to continuous melting of glaziers around the world that could submerge low lying areas in many islands notably the entire country of Maldives, composed of some 1200 islands inhabited by about 350,000 people, as well as heavily populated coastal cities worldwide; b) freshwater and food shortages; c) alteration of the ocean's circulation system that could cause a mini-ice age and other rapid changes in Western Europe; d) strong hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, wild fires and other natural disasters already being experienced in some areas may become commonplace in many parts of the globe; e) extinction of millions of species as a result of disappearing habitat, changing ecosystems and acidifying oceans; and f) rising temperatures could release additional greenhouse gases by unlocking methane in permafrost and undersea deposits, freeing carbon trapped in sea ice – a situation that would render global warming uncontrollable because of the so-called positive feedback effect it has created.

Damaging Floods, Mudslides and Snow Storms

The environmental peril of climate change already being experienced in many parts of the world like the unusually heavy rainfall that results in damaging floods and mudslides as well as disruptive winter storms in the U.S. and Europe have long been predicted by scientists worldwide to be the consequence of climate change. These calamities claimed thousands of lives and damaged billions of dollars worth of infrastructures and properties. Statistics on floods, landslides and snowstorm in 2010 include the 1000-year flood in Nashville, Tennessee, the persistent flood in Pakistan that submerged nearly one-fifth of that country killing over 1,600 people and displacing more than 4 million individuals, the flood in Australia that affected an area bigger than the state of Texas or France and Germany combined described by senior official, State Treasurer Andrew Fraser as a "historic flood of biblical proportion", the floods and mudslides in China, Brazil, Indonesia, Portugal and Central and South America, Asia and many more. Heavy snowstorm hit the U.S. and Europe in late 2010 paralyzing air travel for days. Record levels of rainfall combined with springtime melting of thick snow pack in April – June, 2011 caused historically catastrophic flooding of both Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Along Mississippi River alone, over 30, 000 homes in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana (mostly) were evacuated. Damage caused was estimated at $2 to $4 billion. All these and other weather-related calamities around the world manifest the danger we could be facing with climate change if global warming continues unabated

Role of the Water Cycle

The link between global warming and the increasing frequency and severity of floods and mudslides as well as heavy snowstorms can be traced to the water cycle or hydrologic cycle. Water evaporates from the ocean, man-made reservoirs, lakes, rivers, soil pore spaces, melted snow and glaziers or transpires from plants and other organisms and accumulates in the clouds and atmosphere as water vapor. With the right temperature and atmospheric pressure, the water vapor condenses and transforms into liquid form falling to Earth as rain or forms into solid crystals and drops as hail or snow, which we collectively refer to as precipitation.

The amount of water on Earth remains constant – nothing is lost or added as it goes through the water cycle. What evaporates or transpires is what falls at a later time as rain or snow. This implies that the reason why there is more rain or snow fall is because more water evaporated or was transpired into the atmosphere. If less water evaporates or transpires, there will be less rain and snow to fall. Thus, heavy rainfall that causes flooding, mudslides and snowstorms occur because more water evaporated or was transpired, although not necessarily from the same place but anywhere else around the globe.

In an open environment, temperature is a primary factor that stimulates increased evaporation and transpiration. Higher temperature causes greater evaporation and transpiration rates. So that the increased amount of precipitation that brings about damaging floods, landslides and snow storms being experienced in the U.S. and in many parts of the world could be traced to rising temperature, particularly ocean temperature that induces more evaporation and transpiration and therefore greater precipitation. This is how global warming or climate change is impacting the world. If global warming continues unabated it is highly probable that the world would be seeing more and more of its destructive aftermath via the water cycle.

Causes of Global Warming

While there are small minority opinions to the contrary, the large majority of those in the scientific community contend that global warming is human-caused. A 2007 report of the UN's IPCC derived from the work of some 2,500 scientists in more than 130 countries concluded that humans have caused all or most of the current global warming. This is brought about by increased production and release to the atmosphere of GHG. The term used to denote human-caused global warming is anthropogenic climate change.

Sources and Types of Greenhouse Gases

In the United States, carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas comes mainly as emissions from the combustion in energy use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil or petroleum and natural gas. This occurs because fossil fuels are made up of hydrogen and carbon and when they are burned, the carbon combines with oxygen in the atmosphere to yield CO2. The amount of CO2 produced depends on the carbon content of the fuel. Coal produces the highest amount of CO2 for each unit of energy produced. Natural gas emits about 1/2 and petroleum fuels about 3/4 of the CO2 emitted by coal. Fossil fuels supply 85 percent and non-fossil fuel only 15 percent of the primary energy consumed in the United States. The consumption of 85 percent fossil fuels is responsible for nearly all CO2 emissions.

Eighty percent of U.S. CO2 emissions come from the use of coal (36%) and petroleum (44%) fuels. Twenty percent is contributed by natural gas. The industrial sector is the largest energy consumer, including direct fuel use and purchased electricity. However, the transportation sector emits more CO2 because of its near complete dependence on petroleum fuels. The residential and commercial sectors have lower emission levels than the transportation and industrial sectors, with the majority of their emissions coming from the combustion of fossil energy to produce purchased electricity (Figure 1). Note that in Figure 1, the CO2 emission indicated for residential sector does not include the emissions of about 1,352 million metric tons (MMTCO2) from vehicles used by households since it is included in the transportation sector.

Generating electricity consumes 40 percent of U.S. primary energy and is responsible for 40 percent of all CO2 emissions. Ironically, 52 percent of the energy used in producing electric power is coal. This fuel used in generating electricity accounts for 83 percent of the CO2 emissions in that sector. This situation highlights the three imperative needs: 1) developing clean coal technologies in the production of electricity, 2) or transition to renewable and clean energy economy using wind, solar, and other non-polluting means, and 3) conserve electricity in homes and elsewhere.

In 2006, the anthropogenic greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S. totals 6,967 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Eighty two percent or 5,825.5 million metric tons of CO2 came from the combustion of petroleum, coal and natural gas. Methane, another important greenhouse gas more potent than CO2, comes from land fills, coal mines, oil and natural gas operations and agriculture. Methane represented 8.6 percent of total CO2 equivalent emissions. Another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide represented 5.4 percent of total emissions. It is emitted through the use of nitrogen fertilizers, from burning fossil fuels and from certain industrial and waste management processes. Several human-made gases, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), that are released as byproducts of industrial processes and through leakage, represented 2.2 percent of total emissions.

World Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

In 2005, the world's energy-related carbon dioxide emissions totaled 28,051 million metric tons. It is expected to increase by 1.8 percent annually between 2004 and 2030. This means that by 2030 the world's CO2 emissions are projected to total 42,325 million metric tons or an increase of 50 percent over the 25-year period if nothing is done about it. Much of the increase in these emissions is expected to occur in developing nations such as China (126 percent) and India (91 percent), where their fast-growing economies depend heavily on fossil fuels. For the same period, Russia's CO2 emission is expected to increase by 25 percent, Brazil by 78 percent, Canada 25 percent and Mexico 67 percent. In terms of percentage share of the world CO2 emissions, the U.S. has the highest share of 21.3 percent in 2005 while China has 19 percent. By 2030 or even earlier, however, China is expected to replace the U.S. as having the largest share of global carbon dioxide emission at 28.4 percent while the U.S. share is projected to drop to 16.2 percent (Table 1). The largest share of the U.S. in global carbon dioxide emissions in 2005 is primarily because it has the largest economy in the world and it is 85 percent dependent on fossil fuel for its energy needs.

International Initiatives To Mitigate Global Warming

The Kyoto Protocol

Alarmed by the accelerating rate of global warming and its impact on the environment, 37 industrialized countries and 15 member countries of the European Union joined by some developing nations committed themselves to a treaty that will reduce their collective greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 5.2 percent compared to the year 1990. The treaty is called the Kyoto Protocol because it was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan last December 11, 1997 and came into force February 16, 2005. The goal is to lower the 5-year (2008-2012) overall average emissions of six greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydroflourocarbons, and perflourocarbons. National targets range from reductions for the European Union and some others to 7 for the US, 6 for Japan, 0 for Russia, and permitted increases of 8 for Australia and 10 for Iceland. Ironically, the U.S. is one of the few highly industrialized countries that participated in the negotiation but has not ratified the treaty. The Kyoto Protocol is linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Copenhagen Accord

One hundred nineteen world leaders, the largest gathering of heads of state and government in the history of the United Nations, met and negotiated in Copenhagen, Denmark and approved on December 18, 2009 the so-called Copenhagen Accord. The accord confirms the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Accord sets a maximum of two degrees Celsius or 3.5°F average global temperature rise, subject to a review by 2016 if it would be neccessary to limit warming to only 1.5°C or 2.62°F instead.

The Copenhagen Accord also stipulates for developed countries to collectively provide $30 billion for three years beginning 2010 in new funding to finance projects to develop clean energy and to deal with droughts, floods and other impact of climate change in developing nations. Additionally, the Accord sets a goal of mobilizing from various sources $100 billion every year by 2020 for the same purpose.

Commitment in the Accord by developed countries is a GHG emission reduction of at least 80 percent by 2050. Short-term reduction in emissions by developed countries will be settled later. Workability of the Accord still faces serious challenge since there are no targets set for carbon cuts and that no legally binding treaty was agreed upon.


Excerpted from GO GREEN AT HOME by Frank Y. Panol Copyright © 2011 by Frank Y. Panol, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


CHAPTER 3 SAVING ENERGY AT HOME....................57
CHAPTER 4 CONSERVING WATER AT HOME....................97
APPENDIX A LIST OF TABLES....................252
APPENDIX B LIST OF FIGURES....................255

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