Picturing a ton of CO2 – By Bill Chameides / EDF Blogs / 2007

By Bill Chameides / EDF Blogs / Published: February 20, 2007

Tons of CO2 pollution. We are always hearing about how many tons of CO2 pollution we emit. The average American car emits about seven tons of CO2 in a year; the average American family, about 24 tons; the United States as a whole, over seven billion tons; and worldwide, almost 30 billion tons. The Virgin Earth Challenge (see last week’s post) offers $25 million to whoever can economically remove one billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.

But what is a ton of CO2?

People keep saying to me, I thought CO2 is a gas. How can a gas have weight? I explain that CO2 is made up of atoms, and atoms have mass, and with gravity mass has weight. As often as not, my explanation is met with a blank stare. So let me try a different tack.

Picture a football field, and then imagine a round balloon with one end lined up on the goal line and the other on the 10 yards line – that is, a balloon with a diameter of 10 yards. If that balloon were filled with CO2, it would weigh about 1 ton; it would be a 1-ton CO2 balloon.

via Picturing a ton of CO2


About David Lindsay Jr

David Lindsay is the author of "The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth- Century Vietnam," that covers a bloody civil war from 1770 to 1802. Find more about it at TheTaySonRebellion.com, also known as, DavidLindsayJr.com. David Lindsay is currently writing about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction., as well as singing and performing a "folk concert" on Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction. He can be reached at daljr37(at)gmail.com.
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