What Are the Benefits of Regulating CO2 Emissions?
There is a lot of talk about CO₂ emissions in the world today and a strong focus on how we, as part of thoughtful and resourceful communities around the globe, can make positive changes in our day-to-day living that contribute to the overall health of our planet and indeed ourselves. But while many try to curb their own use of energy and reduce their carbon footprints, it isn't the same across the board. Education is needed to help identify and explain the reasons why we need to do our part in reducing greenhouse gas production – specifically carbon dioxide – and by developing a set plan forward we can work collectively to achieve this goal. This leads many to ask the all-important question, "what are the benefits of regulating CO₂ emissions?"
To answer that question, we can look to the areas of our planet that are negatively affected by the surplus of carbon dioxide and create projections and forecasts that determine our way forward. This means considering the impact on the environment as a whole, diving into the details of climate change, and looking at how the ripple effect of changing climatic conditions can damage our very own health and prosperity.
What's So Bad About CO2?
Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is produced and absorbed naturally by the Earth under normal circumstances. Through photosynthesis, trees and plants break down CO₂ and create oxygen, keeping an effective balance within our atmosphere. However, our modern world creates more pollution than the Earth can naturally absorb. Our greenhouse gas production has increased substantially over the last century creating a serious problem that can only be solved through combined effort and dedication. Transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, and more all contribute to the problem by utilizing copious amounts of energy meaning that somehow, we need to create a supply to meet the demand – but the more energy we generate to power our lives, the more pollution and CO₂ we emit into the atmosphere that the Earth can't manage.
Over time, the conditions on Earth will worsen. Ecosystems will be destroyed, human health will decline, and our quality of life will be significantly reduced. The way to prevent this is by introducing regulations that can keep us in check and forge a combined effort to help us reduce our environmental impact.
How Will Decreasing CO2 Emissions Help?Compared with doing nothing, decreasing CO₂ emissions through regulation will help quite a bit. A major concern for many is the increased temperatures associated with pollution-induced climate change. Extreme temperatures can wreak havoc with weather systems and generate increased rainfall, storms, hurricanes, and other conditions that can have catastrophic consequences to the human race. Furthermore, rising water levels can significantly damage thousands of miles of coastal property and add immense cost as the need to relocate away from flooded cities and towns becomes more imminent. But excess water isn't the only problem. Extreme temperatures can also alter weather patterns to produce droughts that can be detrimental to the livelihood of individuals and families across the nation and indeed across the globe. From crop losses to raging wildfires, dry conditions create an uncertain future where many will suffer. That said, if we introduce regulations and mitigation measures now to help curtail our energy usage and CO₂ production, we can prevent the deaths of countless individuals and ensure a more stable world for our future generations.
What Impact Could Regulations Have on the United States?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that introducing regulations around CO₂ emissions could have an exceptionally positive effect on our nation. By the year 2100, we could see advancements in six major sectors that contribute to a healthier planet and a more secure human and animal population. While these are estimated figures, they make a promising case for regulation at this moment in time.
Increased air quality could save 57,000 people from an early death, while better stability in terms of global temperature could mean 12,000 fewer deaths annually. We could save up to $3 billion in damages resulting from low or poor water quality and avoid $110 billion in lost labor damages.
A decrease in electricity demand could save up to $34 billion in costs associated with the development and upkeep of power systems and eliminate the 1.1% to 4.0% demand increase projected by 2050.
Our roads and drainage systems would see less use and therefore less wear and tear meaning that we could avoid as much as $14 billion in infrastructure adaptation costs. On top of that, up to 2,200 bridges could be saved from structural vulnerability and $3.1 billion in damages to coastal property could be avoided.
Damages and costs associated with flooding could be reduced exponentially and droughts could be much less severe. By 2100 we could see 40% to 59% fewer droughts and eliminate up to $180 billion in damages from water shortages.
Agriculture & Forestry
With less strain on agriculture and forestry, we could see significantly less damage by 2100. Up to $11 billion in damages to agriculture and $1.5 billion to forestry.
From the nearly 8 million acres that could be saved from wildfires to the 35% avoided loss of Hawaiian coral reefs, our natural ecosystems could flourish. Up to 360,000 acres of coldwater fish habitat could be preserved as well.
PowerX Can Help You Do Your Part to Change the World for the Better
At PowerX our goal is to support your desire for a better Earth by providing options to help you reduce your carbon footprint. Asking, "what are the benefits of regulating CO₂ emissions?" is a great way to begin learning how our efforts can make a difference. PowerX can provide you with the tools to help you get started in your own home. Our PowerX Suite consists of sensors that enable you to monitor, track, and reduce your energy consumption easily while also reducing your utility costs. Contact us today to get more information and set a precedent for change in your own home.
Citation: EPA. 2015. Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Atmospheric Programs, EPA 430-R-15-001.