The Environmental Club hosted a talk on Global Warming, Energy and Greenhouse Gasses in SM 313 on Saturday, May 20.
The lecture, presented by Dr. Mitch Haeri, examined the causes of global warming and the rise of global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution. Haeri explained that while gas-powered cars are only 5 – 15 percent energy efficient, their popularity is due to the abundance of cheap gasoline.
“If you really look at it, gas is not that expensive,” said Haeri. “While a gallon of gas might cost $4.50, one liter of water is about a $1.50, which comes out to around $5.70 a gallon. So think about that the next time you wonder why gas is so expensive.”
Haeri also went into the science of how global warming is caused. Internal combustion engines work by releasing the potential energy stored inside the gasoline. Once some of that potential energy is turned into kinetic energy by the engine, the rest of the energy has to go somewhere else. This energy is released in the form of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, as well as heat.
“This law, the Conservation of Energy Law, is crucial to how Global Warming works,” Haeri said. “All that energy has to go somewhere, and it goes straight into our atmosphere.”
Over time, this energy released into the atmosphere increases the temperature of the Earth. A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that global temperatures will rise by 1.5 degrees celcius by 2099.
While gas-powered cars are generally inefficient, the new generation of electric cars are looking to fix that. According to Toyota, electric cars are 80 – 90 percent energy efficient and release zero emissions into the atmosphere. Along with electric cars, another way of producing clean energy is nuclear, which produces no greenhouse gases.
“France actually gets 95 percent of their energy through nuclear,” Haeri said.
While Haeri’s lecture was mostly apolitical, he did end with a word to people who may doubt that climate change exists.
“All I can say, as a scientist, is that you look at the data and see where we’re going.”