Under The (Greenhouse Gas) Dome
Cities concentrate people, businesses, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. But how much energy use and emissions varies widely from city to city. Much depends on urban planning – how dense is the city, how far apart are people’s homes and workplaces, and how do people get from one to the other. Climate affects the extent of heating and cooling needed by buildings, as does the way they are constructed and the efficiency of the equipment they use. Cities around the world have set goals for themselves for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, often meeting or exceeding goals set by nations in international negotiations.
Boston is one of the leaders, participating actively in groups such as C40 Cities and the U.S. Climate Alliance. Boston measures its own greenhouse gas emissions annually, with the goal of reducing emissions by 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. In 2014, emissions totaled 6.1 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents from Boston’s homes, businesses, and vehicles.
Is this a big number? What if, instead of mixing in the larger atmosphere and being absorbed by the oceans, these emissions stayed right over the city? We would live under the dome seen in this image that stretches more than a kilometer into the sky, far above our skyscrapers, breathing pure CO2. (Actually, once the concentration of CO2 reaches ~10%, we would all die from asphyxiation...)