Computing and Climate Change

The use of computers has led to both positive and negative impacts on the climate change of our planet. Computers can help make some processes more efficient and save energy while the use and manufacture of computers contributes to the increased use of energy which leads to global warming. This website helps you to look at the positives and negatives of computing and climate change.

Global Warming Facts.

Climate Change

Climate change, one of the most important trends that scientists look at, is the increasing average temperature of the Earth, called global warming.

Global warming leads to other changes in the Earth’s climate, eg stronger hurricanes, melting glaciers, and the loss of wildlife habitats. When air temperatures rise, the oceans absorb more heat from the atmosphere and become warmer. Warmer oceans, in turn, can cause stronger storms.

Earth's temperature

Greenhouse gases

Smoke bellowing from chimneys

For more than 100 years, people have been burning large amounts of fossil fuel ― coal, oil, and natural gas ― to power their homes, factories, and vehicles. This releases carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping gas, into the atmosphere.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which makes the Earth warmer.

Carbon dioxide

CO2

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important greenhouse gas. Burning fossil fuels releases the CO2 stored millions of years ago. CO2 is probably the most important of the greenhouse gases as it accounts for the largest proportion of the 'trace gases' and is currently responsible for 60 per cent of the 'enhanced greenhouse effect'.

Methane

Methane diagram

The importance of methane in the greenhouse effect is its warming effect. Even though it occurs in lower concentrations than CO2, it produces 21 times as much warming as CO2. Methane accounts for 20 per cent of the 'enhanced greenhouse effect'.

Methane is generated naturally by bacteria that break down organic matter, it is found in the guts of termites and other animals and in natural gas deposits.

Methane remains in the atmosphere for 11–12 years — less time than most other greenhouse gases.

Water Vapour

Water cycle diagram

Water vapour is the biggest contributor to the 'natural greenhouse effect' and varies the most in the atmosphere. As the planet gets warmer, more water evaporates from the Earth's surface and becomes vapour in the atmosphere. Water vapour is a greenhouse gas, so more water vapour in the atmosphere leads to even more warming.