Carbon emission is one of the hottest issues in the world of energy and environment today. While it is supposedly an essential component of the ecosystem, it has already become a large contributing factor to climate change. Carbon emission might be good but abuse of this natural process has made it harmful to people across the globe.
This series of articles aims to help people understand the intricacies of carbon emission and what society can do to efficiently manage this natural occurrence.
Natural Carbon Cycle
Two important elements in the carbon cycle are carbon, which is present in every living thing all over the world; and oxygen, which is found in the air that people breathe. When these two bond together, they create a colourless and odourless greenhouse gas known as carbon dioxide, which is then crucial to trapping infrared radiation heat in the atmosphere and also for weathering rocks.
Carbon is not only found in the atmosphere of the earth. It is also an element found in oceans, plants, coal deposits, oil and natural gas from deep down the earth’s core. Through the carbon cycle, carbon moves naturally from one portion of the earth to another. Looking at this scenario, one can see that the natural carbon cycle is a healthy way to release carbon dioxide into the air in order to be absorbed again by trees and plants.
Altered Carbon Cycle
The natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere is vital to humankind. However, studies show that humans misuse this natural cycle and abuse it instead. Whenever people burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, they produce carbon dioxide – which is an excess addition to the natural flow of carbon in the environment. The problem is that the release of carbon dioxide is much more than what plants and trees can re-absorb. People are not only adding CO2 to the atmosphere, they are also influencing the ability of natural sinks, such as forests, to remove it from the atmosphere. Humans alter the carbon cycle by contributing doubled or tripled greenhouse gas to the atmosphere, faster than nature can ever eliminate. Worst, nature’s balance is destroyed.
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gas and other gases. Although these gasses contribute to climate change, carbon dioxide is the largest greenhouse gas that humans emit. The reason why people talk about carbon emissions most, is because we produce more carbon dioxide than any other greenhouse gas.
The increasing amount of carbon emissions cause global warming to become more evident. All the extra carbon dioxide causes the earth’s overall temperature to rise as well. As the temperature increases, climate also changes unpredictably. Flood, droughts, heat waves and hurricanes are now widely experienced even in places where these phenomenon never used to happen.
To be able to reduce the risk of more severe weather conditions means burning less fossil fuels and shifting more to renewable sources. This is never easy. But, definitely, it’s worth a try.