TheRole of Carbon Dioxide in Global Warming
Ameeting called by the United States National Research Council in 2007reported that the earth is now in the hottest state ever in 40 years.The temperature s recorded today are so high that they affect theecosystem in different ways. The temperature in the environment hasincreased significantly by 0.8 degrees Celsius in the last onecentury. Many places in the world report overturn in their climaticpatterns with increased patterns and irregular rainfalls. The worldclimate has an instigating factor that is making it change gradually,and this is putting the ecology at the risk of imbalance. Theincreased warming is attributable to the greenhouse effect that is aresult f carbon dioxide and methane. These gases are the resultantwastes of human activities on the surface of the earth likeindustrialization, farming and the extending deforestation (Shakun,Clark, He and Marcott 49).
Theglobal temperatures are subject to increase by 1.4 to 5.8 degreesCelsius before the end of the 21st century depending on the level ofgreenhouse effect mainly caused by global warming. The temperaturerange may look insignificant numerically, but it has far-reachingeffects on the global climate. The high temperatures may result inmany hot days and changes in rain patterns. The temperature may alsoreader to warmer oceans that the present conditions and this maytrigger hurricanes and other frequent tropical storms. Seas maysurge, and some animals may become extinct. Disease patterns may alsochange making it difficult to come up with accurate epidemiologicalpatterns. All this will be the cause of carbon dioxide among othergases. Since carbon dioxide plays the biggest role in global warming,it is imperative to know how it causes global warming (Shakun et al.51).
Carbondioxide is the second largest gas circulating the environment afterwater vapor. It is in constant activity in the environment throughthe carbon cycle. It is usually the result of various naturalprocesses that take place in the atmosphere like volcanic eruptions,animal respiration, burning and decaying of matter among others. Itleaves the atmosphere when absorbed by in water especially whenbroken down to water and simple sugars by plants. In the processplants retain carbon in their tissues and release oxygen that animalsuse in respiration.
Humanbeings have in the past increased the level of carbon dioxidesignificantly in the atmosphere through the burning of fossils suchas coal, oil, and natural gas. At the same time, the number offorests that act as air purifiers has been o the verge of reducingdue to human habitation and other activities like agriculture. Thehuman activities produce carbon dioxide at a higher rate than theworld can cope. The danger posed by carbon dioxide is that it canstay for over a century before it naturally decomposes (Shakun et al.51).
Theatmosphere releases some energy to the earth in the form of heat. Theearth through its natural gases absorbs this heat and keeps the earthwarm. When the earth releases some the heat back to the atmosphere,the gases trap some of this heat, and this makes the earth ahabitable place. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas. The effectcreates together with other gases appears like a blanket or agreenhouse that regulates the internal temperature. Without it theearth would be losing all the heat back to the atmosphere, and thiswould make the world extremely cold. The temperature of the earth bbelow zero degrees Celsius and this would result in freezing frompole to pole (Shakun et al. 52).
Theblanket cover the earth as is becoming thicker with the increase inthe level of carbon dioxide emissions. The time beforeindustrialization proved to have a minimal concentration of carbondioxide in the air. The levels of human activity that have directimpact o the concentration of the gas in the air were very low.People used conventional mean that were usually on mall scale. Aripollution was at bay. However, since industrialization, there hasbeen the intensification of the methods of production through the useof fuel-driven machines that release a lot of CO2 in the environment.The heat released from the atmosphere can reach the earth in theusual amounts (Shakun et al. 52).
However,the natural mechanism of releasing it back creating the optimum levelto support life has received detrimental effects. The earth retainsmore heat than it used to hundreds of years ago. The human activitieslike transportation, electricity generation, industrialization andburning of fossils thicken the carbon dioxide cover in theatmosphere. Less heat, therefore, passes back to the environment thanit used to years back.
Thereleased gas needs to be broken down into its constituent compoundsthat do not have adverse effects on nature. The breaking down ofcarbon to oxygen, carbon and natural sugars by the plants ishappening at a very low rate. Before the infiltration of the gas inthe environment, the natural mechanisms took place in a balancedplatform. The current concentration exceeds the ability of the plantsto break down all the available molecules. As mentioned, the unbrokenmolecules can stay for centuries before decomposing. What we havetoday is a situation of carbon dioxide piling up in the environment.Its greenhouse effect continues to intensify, and it protects largeamounts of heat from escaping the surface of the earth.
Beforeindustrialization, the carbon levels stood at 400 parts per million(ppm). Before industrialization, the carbon dioxide concentration wasabout 180 ppm. There are prospects of the level increasing to 420 ormore before the end of the century if the human efforts do not reducethe level of emissions (Shakun et al. 53).
Theworld through its environmental agencies has a lot of concern withthe carbon dioxide levels in the environment. Apparently, people aretightening the grip of around their necks by failing to mind aboutthe level of carbon they produce. Various international conventionslike the Kyoto protocol tried to provide guidelines to the membercountries to cut down their emissions. However, only a few countrieshave intense efforts of hitting the target. The world topindustrialized countries lead in polluting the environment throughcarbon dioxide emissions that that enters the atmospheres in tonnesevery day. The adverse effects of the trend would result in the worldthat gradually fails t support human life. Some places will becometoo hot for human habitation while others will have unreliablerainfall patterns. The remedy to the thick greenhouse gas trap iscutting down the level of carbon emission by around 70%. Else, thetrend of some organisms becoming extinct will continue.
Shakun,Jeremy, Clark, Peter, He, Feng, Marcott, Shaun. "Global Warming Preceded by Increasing Carbon DioxideConcentrations During the Last Deglaciation." Nature484.7392 (2012): 49-54.