Frequent questions about the State of Florida's efforts to reduce environmental impact per the Governor's executive order.
Serve to Preserve FAQ
Frequent Questions & Answers
- What is "climate change?"
Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate - such as temperature, precipitation, or wind - lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change stems from:
- Human activities that change the atmosphere's composition such as the burning of coal, oil and natural gas; and changes in the land surface such as deforestation and urbanization;
- Natural factors, such as changes in the sun's intensity or subtle changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun; and
- Natural processes within the climate system such as changes in ocean circulation.
Scientists are pointing to evidence of climate change from direct measurements of rising temperatures of the Earth's surface and the ocean's subsurface; increases in average sea levels; and shrinking glaciers. Experts believe that the rising temperatures in recent decades can be primarily attributed to human activities which have led to increased atmospheric concentrations of a number of greenhouse gases.
- What are greenhouse gases?
Greenhouse gases are materials found in the atmosphere that absorb heat energy from the Earth and prevent this heat from escaping into space. Primary greenhouse gases include water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ozone (O3). While these gases occur naturally in the environment, they can create problems when they are at unnaturally high concentrations.
- H2O vapor is the most prevalent of the greenhouse gases.
- CO2 emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and petroleum) primarily from transportation and electricity generation.
- CH4 emissions come from the production and burning of fossil fuels, decomposing waste in landfills, and certain processes common to agriculture (livestock production and associated waste).
- N2O emissions are a bi-product of fuel burning from transportation and electricity generation. They also come from certain soil practices and the application of fertilizers in agriculture.
The growing reliance on fossil fuels, rapid global deforestation, and inefficient industrial production have all caused the concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to increase significantly in our atmosphere. Thus, we are faced with the challenge of controlling these greenhouse gases.
- Where do Florida's greenhouse gas emissions come from?
The best hard data we have about Florida greenhouse gas emissions comes for the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Of the total 243.9 million metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide produced during 2003, the electric power and transportation sectors were responsible for over 90 percent of the emissions.
The electric power industry had emissions of 125.1 million metric tons, equaling 51 percent of the total, and the combustion of motor fuels for all modes of transportation in Florida produced 98.2 million metric tons or 40 percent of the total.
The total greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfills, cement plants, and agriculture - the other principal sources of emissions in Florida - have not yet been quantified, but a gross estimate would range from 20 to 30 million metric tons.
- What is Florida doing to battle the effects of climate change?
On July 13, 2007, Governor Charlie Crist signed a groundbreaking set of Executive Orders at the Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change that put into place a new direction for Florida's energy future. The three Executive Orders represent the Governor's commitment to addressing global climate change, a promise to reduce Florida's greenhouse gases, increase our energy efficiency and pursue more renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind technologies, as well as alternative energy, such as ethanol and hydrogen. In addition, Governor Crist committed to partnering with Germany and the United Kingdom to discuss and promote initiatives that broaden the Kyoto Protocol and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases beyond 2012.