Monday, March 8, 2010

Carbon Footprint, Why is it Important to Me?

By Michael Vogt, CGCS

This is the best definition I can come-up with:

“The total amount of greenhouse gases emitted directly and indirectly to support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of either carbon or carbon dioxide.

Direct greenhouse gas emissions can include tailpipe emissions of CO2 from motor vehicles, methane from landfills, and hydro fluorocarbons from leaking refrigeration or air conditioning equipment. Indirect greenhouse gas emissions arise from coal and other fossil fuel-based energy generated to power residential, commercial, and industrial activities. Indirect emissions also arise from fossil fuel combustion used in the manufacture, transport, storage, disposal, and recycling of commodities and manufactured products.”

How about the golf course, what’s involved in calculating carbon foot prints for a golf course maintenance operation?

• Gasoline and diesel fuel for machinery and delivery trucks
• Heating and cooling the Turf Care Center
• Plastic packaging
• Electricity for irrigation pumps

Virtually everything, (products and services) used at the golf course has an associated carbon foot print. As soon as we use these products and services the green house gases (GHG) that help manufacture and delivered these products and services are assigned to the end user.

Basic Carbon Dioxide Chemistry:

• Chemical Formula: CO2
• Molecular Weight: 44.01
• Temperature of Solid CO2 ("dry ice"): -78.2° C or 108.4 below 0 F
• Common Uses of CO2:
     Refrigeration (dry ice)
     Fire fighting, fire extinguishers
     Carbonated beverages
• CO2 in the Atmosphere: The Earth's atmosphere is about 360 ppm (parts per million) carbon dioxide gas. This concentration is an increase from 315 ppm in 1960.
• CO2 Production: You produce 1/2 lb (pound) of carbon dioxide when you watch television for an hour.
• Geometry: The CO2 molecule has a linear shape. This means that the atoms in carbon dioxide are arranged like the picture below. The Black circle represents one atom of carbon and the two Red circles represent oxygen atoms.

• One Pound: One pound of carbon dioxide gas has the volume of 8.2 cubic feet. You could store two pounds of carbon dioxide in the average kitchen refrigerator.

Lets run the numbers

Calculating CO2 emissions:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines for calculating emissions inventories require that an oxidation factor be applied to the carbon content to account for a small portion of the fuel that is not oxidized into CO2. For all oil and oil products, the oxidation factor used is 0.99 (99 percent of the carbon in the fuel is eventually oxidized, while 1 percent remains un-oxidized.)

Finally, to calculate the CO2 emissions from a gallon of fuel, the carbon emissions are multiplied by the ratio of the molecular weight of CO2 (44) to the molecular weight of carbon (12): 44/12.

CO2 emissions from a gallon of gasoline = 2,421 grams x 0.99 x (44/12) = 8,788 grams = 8.8 kg/gallon = 19.4 pounds/gallon

CO2 emissions from a gallon of diesel = 2,778 grams x 0.99 x (44/12) = 10,084 grams = 10.1 kg/gallon = 22.2 pounds/gallon

Thus, for every gallon of gasoline your equipment burns 19.4 pounds of CO2 are released into the atmosphere, and for every gallon of diesel fuel 22.2 pounds are released.

Soil below turfgrass areas can trap CO2

Agricultural Research Service soil scientist Ronald F. Follett and Colorado State University researcher Yaling Qian have studied soil records from 16 Denver-area golf courses. Follett says they found that carbon sequestration in the soil under turfgrass occurred at a "significant rate that is comparable to the carbon sequestration rate reported from U.S. land that has been placed in the Conservation Reserve Program." That voluntary program, run by USDA's Farm Service Agency, pays agricultural landowners to "establish long-term, resource-conserving covers on eligible farmland," which helps trap carbon.

Follett explains that golf course managers generally keep excellent soil records; some of the records used for this research go back 45 years. The scientists found that carbon sequestration lasts for up to 31 years in fairways and 45 years in greens, after which the rates slow or become negligible. While carbon sequestration exists on tees, it was not nearly as much as those on fairways and greens. The researchers are still investigating why this is the case.

A rapid increase in carbon sequestration occurs the first 25 to 30 years after the turfgrass is established. The study found that greens and fairways each store nearly a ton of carbon per acre per year. An average size golf course can be responsible for better than 100 tons of CO2 per year.

The comparison is this, a golf course can use 100 gallons of fuel and still be carbon neutral if the course is younger than 30 years and has at least 100 acres of turf less tee surfaces.

CO2 gases are believed to be the major contributing culprit in global warming.

If you are a believer in global warming, CO2 disaster, there you have it. However, if you think this global warming thing is a big scam by the elite left wing educated and big government the above doesn’t mean anything!

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