Home » CLIMATE CHANGE, CAN WE FIGHT IT? » Pandora’s Box » 2. What did we learn?

2. What did we learn?

  • Global warming is caused by a disturbance in the carbon cycle

Without the interference of mankind, nature is purifying the atmosphere with a process called photosynthesis. This process is done by plants and trees. Plants and trees create their own food through photosynthesis. During this process, a plant’s roots absorb water from the ground, and its leaves take in light energy and carbon dioxide. The plant uses these elements to make fats, proteins and starches that are then used to sustain its life. During this process, extra oxygen is produced and released.

  • Nature is carbon self-regulating.  Plants and trees grow and die, during this life cycle they take and release carbon in the atmosphere. If the CO2 level in the atmosphere is high plants grow at a faster rate, are the levels of CO2 low there will be a reduction in growth until everything is in balance again.

All plants and trees in the world are one big living organism. To grow they need carbon, an atmosphere without Carbon will kill all plant life. Imagine that. No CO2, no plant life, no crops, no food, no life at all. If I was a tree I would love global warming, it means easy food and a fat belly.

  • By burning fossil fuels we release carbon from their storage into the atmosphere.

Everything we want or need costs energy.  Energy we create by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. Our hunt for improvement and a better life results in releasing huge amounts of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

  • Humans have reduced the area covered by forests, a process known as deforestation. By reducing the number of trees through burning and/or chopping them down and allowing them to decay, deforestation reduces the amount of carbon stored in the biota.

Forest = Biosphere = Carbon Neutral. Chopping down trees to let them decay or using trees as fire-wood will release the stored carbon. When we use and preserve the timber, carbon will stay where it is. If your house is made of timber, you live in a carbon storage. Everything made from wood is carbon storage. The use of timber will reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere if we replant the tree. Plantation timber is such timber.

  • Scientists can’t explain why the concentration carbon in the atmosphere is lower than they calculated. 3 billions metric ton of carbon per year is missing. (almost half of the fossil fuel we burn )

When we burn fossil fuel, we create energy and release the carbon in form of carbon dioxide (a gas). This gas ends-up in the atmosphere and causes a problem. Too much carbon in the atmosphere creates a kind of blanket around the earth, as result; higher average temperatures, melting ice-caps, higher sea-levels.

There is no connection between our energy reserve and the atmosphere because this energy reserve is stored far below the surface.  Scientist identifies this storage as a sink.

There is more than one sink, there is the oceans, the soil, plants and trees, underwater storage (coral, marine sediments, sedimentary rocks and there is the atmosphere. The different is that all these sinks are open sinks, all interacting with each other like communicating vessels, close to a so called equilibrium (balance).

We are pumping with a very fast rate Carbon (out of closed the storage sink) into the atmosphere (the open sink). This release of CO2 goes with a faster rate than the oceans and left-over forest can absorb. The result is a 30% higher concentration CO2 in the Atmosphere.

Scientists don’t tell us that this problem is only a temporary problem; they don’t tell us because they can’t, it’s not possible to predict when global warming will stop, there are too many variables.

The total stored capacity of carbon in the open sinks is 100,043,000,000,000,000 ton, even if we pump the whole energy reserve 4,000,000,000,000 ton in the open sink, the average carbon level  in the open sink will only rise with 0.00399%.

Scientists can’t explain where the 3 billion ton carbon went. I think I can because I don’t calculate, instead computers I use common sense. Scientist trying to calculate volumes of stored carbon, something they are not able to do (missing 3 billion ton) There is a storage (sink 1.) of 140.000.000 billion ton carbon (oceans, marine sediments and sedimentary rocks) and a storage (sink 2.) of 766 Billion ton carbon (atmosphere) These two sinks have a chemical equilibrium.

We pump out of sink 3. (the ground or Lithosphere) 6 billion ton carbon into sink 2. Thinking about Einstein I expect first a fast rise of concentration carbon at sink 2, because there is equilibrium between sink 1 and 2 it’s not so strange that the rise of concentration carbon in sink 2 will slow down over years because of the enormous storage capacity in sink1.

This shows again the self-regulating effect of nature. So there’s nothing wrong? Actually a lot is wrong. For hundreds of thousands of years, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stayed between 200 and 300 parts per million. Today, it’s up to nearly 400 parts per million, and the amount is still rising. The earth can’t keep up with our speed of carbon release.

evidence_CO2

A higher concentration of Carbon in the atmosphere leads to higher temperatures and a changing climate.

This gives us a few options.

  1. Do nothing and see what will happen. The power of nature is bigger than we think. The self-regulating effect of mother earth is already noticeable. Scientist starting to readjust their predictions of temperature rises. However we also should think about the growing population and industrialization of countries like China, India and Indonesia what will lead to a growing demand for energy.
  2. Developing new technologies to create energy without the use of fossil fuel as well the development of new technologies to save energy or making the use of energy more efficient. This will take decades to do and the question is; do we have enough time?
  3. Carry out option 2 however not waiting for the result. We can help nature in an active way to restore balance by planting trees on a big scale. Trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Trees retain the carbon portion of the CO2 molecule to build their structures, and exhale most of the oxygen.  A little chemistry to explain; the atomic weight for carbon is 12, for oxygen is 16, and so for CO2 is 44. One ton of carbon storage in the forest therefore represents removal of 44/12, or 3.67 ton of CO2 greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, and the release of 2.67 ton of oxygen back into the atmosphere.

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