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Global Warming And Sequestering Co2 Essay

1203 words - 5 pages

There's much talk (as opposed to action) about what to do about global warming and CO2 in the atmosphere. As with most subjects in life, I have all the solutions. While I don't think my solutions are unique, I don't think I've summarized it all in one place yet so I will do that here.

Premise:

Before we begin I think it's key to understand and agree what the problem is. There are a few points which I think are largely agreed upon. First, humans are releasing formerly sequestered carbon into the atmosphere. Second, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that traps heat. Lastly, that there appears to be changes in the Earth's climate. What I think is still being argued (not debated) is if the human released CO2 is the cause for the change. Since this argument has become politicized it's unlikely anyone is going to change their opinion because of anything they read, particularly some dude's blog post. With that in mind, the premise I'll be operating from here is that we wish to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere. What is the best way to do that?

Background:

It is important to understand what affects CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Earth is largely a closed system. It gains energy from the Sun, but the matter on it remains basically static. There is virtually the same amount of carbon on Earth today as there has been for thousands and millions of years. What changes is its form, and location. Essentially carbon can be classified into three forms that we care about. First, CO2 in the atmosphere. The level of this is what we wish to reduce. Second, locked up temporarily, usually in plant or animal form. Biomatter is made largely from carbon, which is released when those things die and decompose (or when other life consumes those things and uses them for energy). Last, sequestered long term in a stable form, usually as fossil fuels. A key point to take away from this is that while we don't directly care how much carbon is in the last two forms, it is of indirect importance as any carbon in those forms will necessarily not be in the CO2 form we are trying to reduce. With that in mind it becomes clear that in order to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, we must increase it in the other two forms.

Carbon Cycle:

One often hears people refer to the CO2 released when animals exhale. This is usually said rather jokingly, and the overall amounts are quite small, so even if it was a legitimate source it wouldn't be of much concern. However, I feel it's important to show why it wouldn't matter even if the levels where much higher. In short, the CO2 you are exhaling came from a plant, and that plant captured that CO2 from the atmosphere. Since the CO2 was never in a long term sequestered form it doesn't matter that has been released. Even without animals to consume plants and release their CO2, they would still die and decompose, and the end result would be the same. This freed carbon will be reclaimed by a different plant and the process will begin again. This is...

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