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Environmental Pollution: Change In The Air

1336 words - 5 pages

Change In The Air

Our understanding of atmospheric chemistry is the best it's ever been. And yet in our modern age of technology finding solidifying proof that carbon dioxide is the cause of global warming has yet to occur. We do not as of yet have enough solid evidence to say for certain that it is, nor is there the evidence to say it isn't. None the less discovering the truth about the matter and bringing us one step closer to how to handle it is only a matter of time.

From the dawn of time mankind has recognized that air was more than just empty space, but material no different from liquids and solids. The Greeks thought it to be one of the four elements, along with earth, water and fire; it is from these very people that we derive the word after "Aither" the Greek god of aer, the mysterious substance that could not be touched, but in the form of wind could touch others. Man pondered at the make up of air and the atmosphere for eons as it remained far more elusive than determining that of liquids and solids. Finally in the nineteenth century man began making headway with discoveries such as that of ozone by Christian Friedrich Shoenbein in 1840. In the twentieth century, atmospheric science made real strides, such as the explanation of how the ozone layer is made and what maintains it by Gordon Dobson and Sydney Chapman. Suddenly the focus of atmospheric chemistry had shifted from determining its composition to how the atmosphere had changed over time (Wikipedia).

The effect of atmospheric change is severe and wide spread. However to chalk this up solely to carbon dioxide's increase in the atmosphere is a vast oversimplification of a complex system which involves a plethora of elements and compounds interacting. In one study done by M. Bernhardt Romermann in Germany a vegetation shift in the native coniferous forests was observed in the down wind side of highways south of Munich. Romermann's investigation into the matter lead to the conclusion that the shift in ecology is attributed to the combustion of fossil fuels by traffic on the highway. Forests are well known as nitrogen limited environments. The observation of a shift in species composition and dominance was a clear indicator that the ecosystem had surpassed critical load of disturbance on the down wind side. It should be noted that deposition levels decreased in the forest at greater distances from the highway on par with decreasing accumulations of nitrogen isotopes found in the tree rings. As shown by Rommerman, it is negligible to focus solely on carbon dioxide as the only major concern of the atmosphere's change in chemistry. The scientific community has a responsibility to remain impartial in its search for fact and must remain ever wary of self-biases in order to conduct proper science (Rommerman 2005).

What's more, raised carbon dioxide levels are not necessarily a bad thing. In a study done by Achim Walter, increased carbon...

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