GHG Accounting: Rocket science without the calculus

November 30, 2009, by Tim Stumhofer

In an interview the other week I made the lazy mistake of oversimplifying GHG measurement with a tired colloquialism. While this may read as a statement of regret, I’m actually quite pleased I made this little slip as it spurred alumnus, member, and all around friend of the Institute Don Bain to take me to task in a succinct clever synopsis. Please read on for more on the actual relationship between GHG accounting and rocket science.

Well actually, greenhouse gas accounting is closer to rocket science than you think. Rocket science starts with a calculation of how much thrust is required to get to orbit, go to the moon, or wherever.

Net Thrust = (mass of exhaust x velocity)

And guess what? Mass of exhaust is determined directly from fuel burned.  Turns out in rocket science we start with the mass of fuel (actually fuel and oxidizing agent) and calculate from there. A consumption side calculation.  Sound familiar?  Think of it as a not-so-stationary combustion calculation exercise.

Now I know you were evoking the colloquialism to suggest that greenhouse gas accounting is straightforward and can be readily done by mere mortals.  Rocket science can too, with just a little calculus.  The trick is learning how to break down the problem into component parts that can be readily solved with the tools at hand.  That’s the essence of the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute courses: tools and techniques, once mastered, that make it look easy.

So think of greenhouse gas accounting as rocket science without the calculus.  Both fields are straightforward, if you invest in a little knowledge first.


One response to “GHG Accounting: Rocket science without the calculus”

  1. Very different and interesting field similar to Rocket science field but has less complexity as compared to rocket science as it needs less calculation and little knowledge.

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