Global meltdown

Nathaniel Vamvas

As carbon dioxide increases, it is important to understand that in order to survive there cannot be more than a certain percentage of it in our atmosphere. If that percentage continues to increase then our lives may be in danger.

There are many theoretical sources of carbon dioxide and its relation to global warming.

“The CO2 in our atmosphere comes from the Earth’s interior,” said Dr. James Repka, an earth science professor at Saddleback College, “largely through volcanic outgassing.”

It is believed by many sources, including USAToday, that the “greenhouse effect” causes global warming. As the amount of carbon dioxide increases, the natural effect is enhanced causing levels of extremely warm temperature.

However, as Repka explains, it would be impossible for mankind to survive in such a climate.

“Without it, the Earth’s surface would be almost entirely frozen,” Repka said.

Some may believe humans are essential contributors to events leading to carbon dioxide polluting the planet. However nature may play a larger role in carbon dioxide contribution than mankind.

“We have a pretty good handle on the various sources and sinks of carbon and carbon dioxide,” Repka said. “And the rate of CO2 associated with human activities dwarfs contributions due to natural activities.”

Many college students are unaware of how much carbon dioxide is actually absorbed into the ocean because it is water-soluble. The ocean’s ability to store carbon dioxide in the years to come will affect the temperature on the planet. As carbon is released into the atmosphere, the ocean is usually able to absorb the excess of elements.

Ric Williams, an instructor at Liverpool University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences explains in a textbook he wrote that “the excessive amount of carbon in the atmosphere will make the oceans more acidic and hamper the ability of the oceans to absorb further carbon from the atmosphere. The extra carbon dioxide remaining in the atmosphere will lead to an increase in the overall heating of our planet, making sea levels rise and exacerbating the melting of the Arctic ice caps.” Although the thermal expansion of water as the oceans heat up seems to be presently causing this effect.

Global warming seems to be a major concern and William informs that the ocean can only hold so much carbon dioxide. We will soon reach a stage where it’s ability to absorb CO2 is going to decrease which will cause global temperatures to rise.

The ocean’s natural chemistry will be affected if the human race continues to use up all reserves to help prevent excess carbon dioxide from getting into the atmosphere. Scientist’s are trying to determine a solution allowing much less carbon into the air by inventing a certain form of “carbon-capturing technique” for areas that produce a lot of carbon dioxide.

Saddleback students all live near the Pacific Ocean where massive amounts of carbon dioxide are consumed. Although, the biggest effects will be in more tropical areas and a slight decrease in pH would not be threatening to people in water according to Dr. Repka.

It would be impossible for humans who take advantage of our coastal playground, such as surfers, to be affected by the amount of CO2 in the ocean.

“Our biggest concern locally would be from the increase in sea level,” Repka said. “This would lead to loss of beachfront, rapidly increasing coastal erosion, things like this.”

Those who live close to sea level and depend on locally available resources may become affected by the availability of clean water. According to Dr. Repka, this is already a problem in many places today, but could be exacerbated in the future. Other changes to growing seasons or migration of insects and diseases could be a possible threat if carbon dioxide continues to pollute our atmosphere.

The oceans are not the only location affected by carbon dioxide. Plants are also absorbing carbon everyday.

“Carbon has two stable isotopes C-12 and C-13, which are chemically identical but, because their masses are different, are treated differently by plants performing photosynthesis,” Repka said. “Since fossil fuels are formed by plants (and animals that eat plants) their ratio of C-13 to C-12 atoms looks like that of plants, and quite different from that of volcanic gases.”

As well, the atmosphere is noticeably polluted because that is where carbon is deposited. We are essential contributors to events leading to carbon monoxide polluting the air.

According to the textbook, “Geosystems: An Introduction to Physical Geography,” written by Robert W. Christopherson, transportation produces 77 percent of the carbon monoxide, 56 percent of the nitrogen oxides and 25 percent of the particulates.

Humans can help reduce the causes leading to global warming. New technologies are catching on by creating products with less energy emissions. Geo-engineering technologies such as capturing emissions and storing them underground could potentially delay global warming. Increased use of nuclear power and investment in expanded solar power would be efficient resources in reducing the causes leading to global warming.

“Some of these are more expensive than others, some require changes to our attitudes about energy use and the economy,” Repka said.

It is important to find a solution to heed the mass amounts of carbon in the world today otherwise global warming is inevitable.

“There is probably little we can do to alter the physical effects we will be experiencing over the next few decades or even up to the next century,” Repka said.

What we can do is to prepare for the effects that seem most prominent and try to mitigate the long-term effects to the best of our ability.

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