CO2 Emissions - What Do We Know Anyway?

Did you know that trees, plants and animals (collectively known as the biosphere) generate ten times as much carbon dioxide as do humans. However, all the carbon dioxide is used by plants during photosynthesis to create biomass. In an ideal world this means no net change to the atmosphere. There is of course a seasonal aspect to this because in the fall when trees shed their leaves more CO2 is produced. When spring comes around again the new growth requires more CO2 and once again balance is achieved.

The real problem in terms of climate change is the net emissions of CO2 over longer periods of time. In a completely natural environment there would be no increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. But when human activity causes CO2 emissions through fossil fuel combustion and deforestation the overall source of CO2 is increased.

CO2 Emissions

What makes the problem worse is that deforestation has the added effect of decreasing the net sink of CO2! Land that has been deforested makes for poor agriculture and does little to help restore the CO2 balance.

In April 1968, the CO2 level in our atmosphere was measured at 325.02 ppm. In June of 2008, it was 387.19. An increase of nearly 20% over 40 years. In study after study scientists have shown a direct correlation between the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere and global warming. It would seem there is little to blame for global warming other than human activity.  Indeed, since the industrial revolution temperatures throughout the world have risen by approximately 1.5 degrees, Farenheit. Most of this increase came in the 20th century. What will we do to make it better in the 21st?

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