Climate Detectives Projects 2018-2019

Project topic: Global warming



2018-2019   IES :   Torreperogil   Spain   20 Student’s age: 14-15

Summary of the project

We have calculated the emissions of greenhouse gases in our region and made a comparison with the emissions registered in the European Union. To calculate the Nitrous Oxide emissions we have considered two sources: fertilizers and manure management. From the hectares of the three main crops of the region and considering the yield of each of them has been calculated the amount of fertilizers needed and as a consequence the “Kg of Nitrogen” emitted by the agricultural activity. Subsequently, considering the number of head of cattle and emissions per head and animal species, we have obtained the “kg of Nitrogen” due to livestock. For methane, we have considered that its main emitting source is livestock both due to digestive processes and manure management, proceeding the same as with “livestock Nitrogen”. For Carbon Dioxide, we have taken into account that due to electricity consumption and the use of vehicles. For electricity consumption we have calculated the consumption of each of the towns in the region, subsequently obtaining the associated carbon footprint. As for automobiles, the number of vehicles in each of the cities has been obtained and it is estimated that a car emits 2.9 tons of CO2 per year. We have taken the maximum and minimum temperature of the region since 2006, calculated the average and with 2006 as a reference we calculate the difference with respect to this year, obtaining an estimate of “local warming”.For the rainfall pattern, the data have also been taken since 2006. Finally, we have recorded the evolution of the number of inhabitants and the price of olive oil, which is the main driver of the economy of our region

Main results

Data from the Institute of Statistics and Cartography of Andalusia show that the three major crops in the region are “ el olivar de regadío, de secano y el trigo de secano” with 75212, 7697, 766 hectares respectively, calculating the Nitrogen produced for the use of fertilizers, obtaining an emission of 286.2262401 kg of said gas per capita. From the OCA report of the Junta de Andalucía and the IPCC guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions “livestock” by species, year and animal head, we obtain 5.790223412 kg per capita of Nitrogen emissions and 7.764042045 kg of Methane per capita. From the vehicle census and considering that a vehicle produces an average of 2.9 tons of CO2 per year, we have obtained that in the region 101891.5 tons of CO2 per year are emitted by the use of the private vehicle. On the other hand we have obtained the carbon footprint as a result of electricity consumption, obtaining 128128.41 tons, also annual, adding both and taking into account the number of inhabitants in the region, we obtain 3003,459032 Kg per capita of CO2. In percentages, we are talking about 8.8% of Nitrogen, 0.2% of Methane and 90.9% of CO2 and approximately 3 tons of CO2 per year. Comparing these results with those of the European Union, in relation to Nitrogen 8% in the EU, we are almost a point above, in CO2 emissions, 83% in the EU, we passed 8 points above, however the Methane gas in our region is almost 7 points below, the EU with 7.6%. The CO2 emissions of approximately 3 tons per year is a little below the world average which is estimated at 3.99 tons.

Actions to help lessen the problem

The main problem is the emissions of nitrogen by agricultural activity and CO2 by the use of private transport and electricity consumption. This supposes a “local warming” and years with rainfalls less than 400 millimeters with important losses in the harvests, lowering of the oil price and depopulation. In the “Local Warming”, taking the year 2006 as a point of reference, a cyclic pattern is observed: two years of “no warming” alternate with one of “warming” in which the temperature rises to a degree with respect to to 2006 as it happens in 2007 and 2011. This means that in 2006, 2007 and 2011, rainfall was 160.4; 405.2 and 265.7 mm respectively, just the years of “warming”, coinciding with the lowest historical price of oil in 2011. Another important consequence is the depopulation in times of bad harvests, from 2011, disastrous year for the economy of the region, the population began to decrease, from 106,114 in 2011 to 7,685 in 2018, that is to say almost 30%. Our region, “La Loma”, the main producer of olive oil worldwide, depends on the optimal climatic conditions for olive growing, the solution to the problem should be addressed from two directions, on the one hand to reduce the use of Nitrogen fertilizers, the circular agricultural-livestock system would be a good option or investigate with other less polluting alternatives. On the other hand, CO2 emissions must be reduced by promoting more the use of public transport, car sharing … and raising awareness of the need to save energy in homes, or even take more drastic measures, such as controlling mileage in private vehicles and establishing a penalty when a “cap” is exceeded, proceeding in a similar way with household electricity consumption

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