Microwave ovens make life more convenient for millions of American families, but they may be more of an environmental problem than a household convenience, one study says.
The recently published study out of the University of Manchester claims that microwave oven usage in the European Union alone, accounts for the emission of nearly eight million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Experts say that this amount of carbon dioxide is equivalent to the annual emissions of 6.8 million cars.
According to Science Daily, this is the first comprehensive study on the environmental impact of microwave appliances that follows the appliance from manufacture to disposal. They say the manufacturing process, electricity consumption and end-of-life waste management are all contributors to global warming by this common household appliance, the study reports.
Scientists suggest that efforts to reduce electricity consumption should be consumer focused, with guidance toward how to use the appliances more efficiently.
According to Science Direct, the manufacturing processes and the reduced lifespan of microwaves, a major contributor to a growing waste problem, are both important issues that need to be addressed.
Contributors find that the current regulations will not be enough to diminish the environmental effects of microwaves. They say it is important to consider explicit design guidelines for the appliances to assist in decreasing the amount of resources required for manufacture and the amount of waste created upon their disposal.
According to Jay Gulledge, former Senior Scientist and Director of the Science and Impacts Program at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, “The risk of extreme weather is rising because of climate change. In the United States, long-term trends show an increasing number of heat waves and heavy downpours and longer, more destructive droughts and wildfires. Climate models simulate these trends when scientists examine the effects of increases in global warming’s main ingredient, greenhouse gases.”
He explains that “risk is the best way to understand the link between climate change and extreme weather. Just as smoking and high cholesterol are risk factors for heart disease, natural cycles and global warming are risk factors for extreme weather.”
Richard A. Muller, Professor of Physics at the University of California- Berkeley says that global warming is real and that over the past 100 years the temperature has risen 1.4 degrees on average globally. He says that while some of this is natural, some warming is caused by humans.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the contribution of humans to the change is most of the 1-degree-Fahrenheit rise of the past 50 years.
According to Muller, “Concern about global warming comes not from this, but from the danger that continued fossil fuel emissions will drive it much higher, maybe 5 degrees Fahrenheit or more… Yes, we should be worried about global warming, but exaggerations are undermining public concern.”