Your Guide to Greenhouse Gases

Carbon dioxide you know, but what about perfluorocarbons?
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2009 3:35 PM CST
Your Guide to Greenhouse Gases
Smoke pour from a Beijing plant.   (AP Photo)

With things set to really heat up next week at the Copenhagen climate summit, the Guardian runs down greenhouse gases you oughta know:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2): Industrialization and deforestation have produced high levels of this gas, which helps trap heat inside Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Methane (CH4): Thirty times more dangerous than CO2, it’s mainly a byproduct of agriculture—think burping cows. But much less methane than carbon dioxide is produced.

  • Nitrous oxide (N2O): Commonly called laughing gas, it’s the third-worst gas in terms of turning up the heat.
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs): Used in cooling systems after chlorofluorocarbons were phased out, HFCs now cause 1% of warming and are being regulated, too.
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs): Released in various manufacturing processes, these gases don’t ever really break down in the atmosphere.
For the rest of the list, click the link at right. (More Copenhagen climate change conference stories.)

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