Every electrical device consumes electric energy and almost every one of them I can think of produces heat as a byproduct. This also applies on every kind of machine powered vehicle. Even our bodies produce a small amount of heat. Almost everything produces a small or high amount of heat. This only gets more and more with more people on this planet and continuing industrialization. Just think of all the giant production around the world and all the means of transportation - they all produce a massive amount of heat.

If you put hundred cups of hot tea into one room the room temperature rises as the tea cools, right? This is heat transfer.

I asked myself wether we would still have a negative effect on the climate even when we (could) reduce our carbon footprint down to zero today or not. We would still produce a lot of heat with almost everything we do.

To what extent has heat production a negative effect on the climate compared to co2 emission?

And why is heat production never payed attention to?


2 Answers 2


While I can't comment on whether the global temperature would still rise if humanity's carbon footprint were reduced to zero, I do know that the heat our machines produce would not contribute any net warming effect. The issue is not the amount of heat which is entering the atmosphere -- it's where and when that heat came from.

Assuming that we are successful in reaching 100% wind, water, and solar energy, the energy consumed at the end use would be from only seconds to at most a year ago:

  • Seconds: Solar power from photovoltaic panels is collected, converted to electricity, transmitted to the grid, and used almost instantaneously
  • Hours to days: Wind is primarily generated by daily fluctuations in surface temperature caused by the sun
  • Months: The water in rivers which power hydroelectric dams is generated by seasonal patterns in precipitation, which is a function of changes in solar intensity over the course of the year

In contrast, the energy we're using today from fossil fuels is tens to hundreds of millions of years old, containing energy harvested from the sun over a period of over a hundred million years (source).

The energy from wind, water, and solar sources is being added to our atmosphere anyway -- we just convert it into different forms to use it for other purposes in between its transit from the sun to the planet.

By contrast, the energy from fossil fuels had been locked away, safely stored for 100 million years or more. Until we started drilling and mining, it was no longer having any significant impact on the planet.

This also applies to the food we consume -- the energy that fruits and vegetables store is at most a year old -- for animal products, it's at most two to three years old.


Uh yeah, slightly because a cessation of co2 emissions isn't removing the centuries worth of prior emissions, however that's a while from now. The temps been rising since 1750's before the industrial revolution. But CO2 on Earth has been steadily declining, we're in the midst of a coldhouse period and a carbon drought which is perpetual. When humanity unleashed fossil fuels they put Co2 back in the atmosphere, we've been regenerating the biosphere with carbon, the building block for life. More co2 means more bioproductivity. Greenhouse growers understood this decades ago enter image description here

Even ocean life, contrary to popular claim the oceans get more acidic, in co2 enrichment, more carbon means more building blocks for shelled creatures. Experiments show bubbling more co2 means they creatures get Bigger. enter image description here

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I strongly suggest you back up your claims with valid sources. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Oct 15, 2020 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ 1. Greater plant growth due to increased CO2 levels is meaningless is there’s a drought and there’s no water, or wildfires rapidly burn all growth. It has been repeatedly shown that “CO2 greening” is negligible compared to biomass loss due to the effects of climate change. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Jan 9, 2021 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ 2. Your creature is a lobster, and the shell is made from organic materials (chitin). The issue with ocean acidification is dissolution of inorganic carbon in the form of calcium carbonate, which forms the shells of things like foraminifera and various bivalves. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Jan 9, 2021 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ Chitin is made of saccharides and co2 in abundance yields more saccharides. $\endgroup$
    – LazyReader
    Jan 10, 2021 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ More CO2 is Good. Coral and primitive plants evolved in an atmosphere of co2 TEN TIMES current levels. 6000 years ago during the holocene warming, Sahara desert wasn't a desert, but a humid, green lush environment. Lakes bigger than US states, and a lush arable biosphere. That all went away when the climate cooled.Optimum temp for plants increases with CO2, b/c more co2 decreases opportunity for plants to lose moisture to transpiration when their pores open less frequent. Journal of Plant Physiology: $\endgroup$
    – LazyReader
    Jan 10, 2021 at 5:26

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