What are greenhouse gases and how much are emitted by the United States?

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on May 22, 2011

What are greenhouse gases and how much are emitted by the United States? Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun and warm the planet’s surface. Of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 87% are related to energy consumption. From 1990 to 2009, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States have grown by about 0.04% per year. The United States accounts for about 20% of the world’s total energy-related carbon dioxide. Because greenhouse gases trap radiation (heat) from the sun and warm the planet’s surface, a certain amount of these gases is beneficial. But as concentrations of these gases increase due to human activity, more warming occurs than would happen naturally. In 2009, about 6.6 billion metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) of greenhouse gases were emitted by the United States.1 Other countries with significant emissions include China, the countries of Europe, Russia, and Japan.”

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