An interview with a scientist
Effect of CO2 on the Environment
Greenhouse gases are responsible for the much rise in temperatures on the earth surface that results in global warming. Of the main greenhouse gases; today let’s take a closer look at carbon dioxide. Our scientist will enable us to understand it better;
Interviewer/Name: What are the sources of carbon dioxide?
Scientist: The major sources of carbon dioxide are the combustion of fossil fuels, often from industries, car emissions among other sources, clearing of forest vegetation, volcanic eruptions, the respiration by organisms. The increased industrialization has hence lead to increased carbon dioxide emissions while the forest degradation enables the already high levels to thrive.
Name: Can CO2 be minimized in the atmosphere?
Scientist: carbon dioxide can be reduced through some sinks in the environment which helps in keeping the atmosphere balanced and in check. The CO2 sinks entail the use of some biological, chemical or biological processes (Rafferty, John, and Melissa, 2) such as photosynthesis and the absorption by the marine organism to build skeletons. However, the increased degradation and pollution has affected the effective regulation of the CO2 levels.
Name: What impact does it have on the environment as well as the climate?
Scientist: The greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide traps heat on the earth surface, which results in much higher temperatures than usual. The high temperatures subsequently affect the climate, altering the existing patterns.
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If not controlled, therefore, the heat will continue rising to unbearable levels resulting in adverse climatic effects such as the melting of polar ice, the rise in sea levels, displacing a lot of people and causing death to a lot of living organisms.
Earth’s current energy budget
Name: Of all the other greenhouse gases, why is carbon dioxide so prominent?
Scientist: Carbon dioxide puts the entire globe at risk of more devastating effects as a result of its accumulation, and its levels are not getting any lower hence it is expected to affect us much longer. CO2, unlike other greenhouse gases, has had the greatest contribution to climate change. It hence is the most popular greenhouse gas that is anticipated to affect us for quite a long time. Moreover, according to the IPCC, the gas has the highest radiative forcing (the amount of energy reaching the earth attributable to CO2) compared to other greenhouse gases (Intergovernmental Panel 4). It also stays in the atmosphere much longer than other greenhouse gases.
Name: How long can it stay in the atmosphere?
Scientist: Compared to other greenhouse gases, it sure sticks around longer. Methane could take a decade, after which it is converted to CO2, while it takes nitrous oxide a century. Of the emitted carbon dioxide, 0.4 is trapped in the atmosphere for a century. 0.2 takes 1000 years in the atmosphere while 0.1 could take 10000 years to clear the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is one of the main and most prominent greenhouse gases. Its effects can, however, be controlled minimizing the effects that everyone could suffer as a result of the escalation in its levels. Hence before it gets out of hand, let everyone take charge and control the amount of CO2 that escapes to the atmosphere. One way could be by planting as many trees as possible to counter the emissions, while also avoiding pollution, especially air pollution, which increases CO2, water pollution, reducing marine creatures among other forms of pollution that much have a devastating impact.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate change 2014: mitigation of climate change. Vol. 3. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Rafferty, John P., and Melissa Petruzzello. “5 Notorious Greenhouse Gases.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/list/5-notorious-greenhouse-gases.
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