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June 21, 2018  |  Login
ecomii guides guide to global warming
In partnership with:  Union of Concerned Scientists

What activities are contributing the most to global warming?

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There is no getting around the fact that our energy use and our particular passion for cars are wreaking havoc on the atmosphere. Here in the United States, coal-burning power plants contribute the most in carbon dioxide emissions (2.5 billion tons every year). Our cars contribute the second largest amount: nearly 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year.1

Most of us realize that things like driving and electricity use are sending greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But did you know that your garbage is emitting a stew of greenhouse gases as it decomposes in landfills? (There’s your reason for recycling.) The average person in the U.S. throws away 1,130 pounds of waste per year—that translates to 1,060 pounds of carbon dioxide drifting up into the atmosphere.2 Find out how you can minimize your landfill contributions at ecomii tips.

The following information is quoted from the U.S. EPA:

“Within the United States, per person emissions can vary depending on a person’s location, habits and personal choices. For example, the types of fuel used to generate the electricity a person uses can lead to different levels of emissions. A power plant run on coal emits more greenhouse gases per unit of electricity than a power plant that uses natural gas. How much you drive and your vehicle's fuel efficiency, as well as time spent idling in traffic, also affect the level of emissions. In addition, the amount of recycling done by a person in his or her home can affect emissions by reducing the amount of methane-generating waste sent to landfills.3

“In the United States, approximately 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent (almost 9,000 pounds) per person per year (about 17% of total U.S. emissions) are emitted from people's homes. The three main sources of greenhouse gas emissions from homes are electricity use, heating, and waste. Emissions from electricity generation occur at the power plants that supply your electricity. In the U.S. more

1. Natural Resources Defense Council [9 February 2007]. [online] Available from: [28 November 2007]

2. US EPA. [5 December 2007] Excerpted from: [5 December 2007]

3. US EPA. [26 July 2006] Excerpted from: [3 December 2007]

4. US EPA. [26 July 2006] Excerpted from: [3 December 2007]
5. US Department of Transportation. [undated] Available from: [13 December 2007]

6. US EPA. [26 July 2007] Excerpted from: [3 December 2007]

7. Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2005, Executive Summary [April 2007]. US EPA. [online] Available from: [28 November 2007]

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