The planet Earth goes through cycles in every aspect of its environment from temperature, to water levels, to levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. There has always been a limit to the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The Earth is like a human body. If a human does not take care of their body through healthy eating and workouts, they become unhealthy and may have health problems. As with Earth, if Earth takes in more heat than it can let out, or vice versa, there will be global climate changes. This begs the question, what could cause these imbalances to happen on Earth?
Earth’s carbon levels have followed a natural cycle throughout the past 800,000 years where the ...view middle of the document...
In the current state of the world, the majority of our energy comes from burning fossil fuels which will release carbon dioxide into the air. If humans had not burned fossil fuels it would have taken millions of years for those fossil fuels to release carbon dioxide into the air which would not have affected the balance. But due to the rapid rate in which fossil fuels are burned, and the deforestation of rainforests, the excess carbon builds up in the atmosphere trapping in heat.
As environmental changes sometimes take years to physically notice, the increased levels in carbon dioxide may not appear to be a dramatic issue. Some of these environmental issues range from increased sea levels, global average temperature rising, melting of icecaps and glaciers, and much more. Most of these consequences lead to other world problems which range from economic problems to a lower standard of living.
Natural Cycles and Processes of the Environment
Scientist have found a way to measure carbon levels in the atmosphere from hundreds of thousands of years ago. Scientists drill deep into ice in Greenland and Antarctica to dig up ice cores (DalSanto). These ice cores hold air pockets which contain the air from the atmosphere from years ago. By analyzing the atmosphere in the ice cores, they can accurately make graphs describing atmospheric properties like carbon levels.
Earth’s atmosphere has gone through natural cycles of carbon concentration in the atmosphere throughout its lifetime. “Carbon dioxide provides the dominant means through which carbon is transferred in nature between a number of natural carbon reservoirs” (Houghton 35). Everything contributes to the carbon cycle, breathing, rotting wood, and fire burning all add to the levels of carbon dioxide in the air. But to counter these actions, plants and trees absorb the carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Another carbon sink is the ocean. The top 100m of the ocean, called the upper waters, absorbs a vast amount of the carbon in the atmosphere very rapidly. But the lower waters of the ocean can take hundreds of years to mix with the upper waters which means oceans do not provide an immediate storage container for carbon. Before human involvement in the natural carbon cycle the cycle stayed at a balance between 180 ppm and 280 ppm which allowed for a balance to be maintained.
There are many other cycles that the world goes through, not just on the planet. The pattern of the Earth’s orbit and its tilt were the cause of most major climate changes in the past (Goldstein 9). The orbit is about 155 million kilometers from the sun, but at times it can be 5 million kilometers closer than normal based on its orbit. The tilt also varies between a minimum of 21.5 degrees and 24.5 degrees off vertical. When the Earth is closer to the sun the Earth becomes hotter, and the change in the tilt changes where on Earth most of the heat is reaching.
Humans have taken...