An easy guide to understanding climate change

Climate change is a complex and multi-layered issue, so here are some simple explanations to help you understand what’s going on.

The climate crisis tops headlines and touches hearts across the globe. From the youthful passion of Greta Thunberg to Sir David Attenborough’s evocative documentary, A Life on Our Planet, the conversation about our world – what we have done and what we need to do – is being transformed.

To accommodate this change, we are all faced with learning a new language. Phrases like ‘global warming’ and ‘greenhouse gas’ are already in use. But there are some critical solution-based terms like ‘net zero’ and ‘zero-carbon’ energy which are also essential to understand.

The following information will help you to get familiar with the critical terminology surrounding climate change. What do these terms mean, you may ask? Find out more below…

The unrelenting rise of carbon emissions

The air quality in busy cities is harmful to the health and wellbeing of everyone.

What is Carbon dioxide?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colourless, odourless gas emitted by burning carbon-rich materials like coal and oil. It’s also emitted through processes like fermentation and breathing. Plants, including peatlands and forests, help to sequester or absorb CO2 from the atmosphere which is why we include tree planting with our EV leasing service!

How did Carbon dioxide levels get so high?

Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with a ferocity that the Earth’s natural purifying systems can’t cope with. The energy used to power our transport, agriculture, industry and waste practices is supplied by the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil, which are some of the top emitters of CO2. When you add this to the rapid rate of deforestation, you can see why Earth’s natural purifying systems are struggling!

Why is Carbon dioxide a problem?

The problem with these extra emissions is that CO2 traps heat, keeping radiant energy locked in the lower atmosphere and increasing the Earth’s temperature. On average, the Earth’s temperature is about 15°C. It does fluctuate, but scientists tell us that the temperature is rising faster than ever due to our unchecked emission of CO2 and other Greenhouse Gases. You can find out what we’re doing to stop the rise of carbon emissions and keep the planet from warming here!

What are greenhouse gases?

People usually focus on carbon dioxide, but there are several types of greenhouse gases that come from human activity. Here’s a brief overview of each, and you can find more detailed information on them in the reference website below.

  • Methane (CH4) is emitted during the production and transport of fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas. It’s also emitted from livestock and other agricultural practices.
  • Nitrous Oxide (N2O) is emitted during agriculture, wastewater management and fuel combustion.
  • Fluorinated gases: These are referred to as high global warming potential gases. There are a variety of types and they generally come from refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosol sprays and some manufacturing processes.

What is ‘the greenhouse effect’?

The phrase ‘the greenhouse effect’ describes a process whereby heat from the sun is trapped by gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is a natural process and has allowed the Earth to maintain a temperature suitable for life to evolve. However, human activity has increased the concentration of greenhouse gases – to a point where the Earth’s temperature is rising to dangerous levels. You can liken it to a bubble or even a blanket of emissions that is trapping heat. The main reason we are in a climate crisis is due to greenhouse gases.

How do we face the climate crisis?

Renewable energy sources like solar power can help.

The term ‘climate change’ describes a drastic long-term shift in the typical temperatures and weather patterns on Earth. The unpredictable and often extreme weather resulting from this change impacts the natural order of wild ecosystems, causing ice caps to melt and species to lose their habitats. If we do not redress the balance, climate change will continue to escalate. So, understanding what zero-carbon energy and net zero energy can help us to achieve is a good start!

What is zero-carbon energy?

Zero-carbon energy is perhaps the nirvana of green power. It’s produced by sustainable, renewable sources like solar, wind, wave, and geothermal energy. After construction, these natural power generation sites don’t produce carbon in the harmful way coal and oil do. At GRIDSERVE, we focus on the sun’s power with solar farms to harvest zero-carbon power then deliver it to the grid and to electric vehicle drivers through our Electric Highway network.

Why is net zero carbon energy important?

The word ‘net’ in ‘net zero carbon energy’ relates to the delivery of this renewable energy. In simple terms, using net zero carbon energy is like creating an environmental balance sheet. The ‘balance’ is struck when fossil fuel generated energy is taken from the grid then ‘netted off’ or replaced by an equal amount of zero-carbon kW’s of solar energy fed back into the grid. At GRIDSERVE, we use this method to power our EV charging network which is supported by grid-scale hybrid solar farms in what we call our ‘Sun-to-Wheel’ model.

The wide use of net zero energy is a radical shift but it’s one we need to make as a planet to reduce the amount of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere. By supplying net zero energy to critical power infrastructure, we can move away from producing, transporting and burning fossil fuels to power our world.

We are not only passionate about explaining climate change but we are doing something about it with our renewable energy solutions. GRIDSERVE continues to own, operate, and develop solar farms, remote power solutions and EV charging infrastructure. It’s also why we lease EVs! While we can’t expect a 100% non-carbon emitting world, we can transition to more clean energy sources and compensate for the carbon that is released.

EVolve with GRIDSERVE

The Sun has the power to change the world.

At GRIDSERVE, we focus on reducing transport and power emissions with some very innovative ways to harvest renewable energy and #deliver it to you for less than the cost of fossil fuel-based energy sources. If you’d like to do something to reduce your carbon footprint, take the first step and lease an Electric Vehicle (EV) with no exhaust emissions. Then you can fill it with a supply of renewable energy on the GRIDSERVE Electric Highway.

Find out more about how you can help the planet by making the switch to an electric vehicle.

References

Information on Greenhouse gas emissions