Thursday, November 11, 2010

" Is Carbon Dioxide The Real Culprit for Global Warming "

           Amy Heinzerling in her article “Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions Fall in 2009 – Past Decade Still Sees Rapid Emissions Growth “, expresses joy  about the decreased carbon emissions from fossil fuels in most industrial countries in 2009. But later she states that it is only due to recession, that the global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels decreased from 8.5 billion tons in 2008 to 8.4 billion tons in 2009.

        Amy states that the decrease in carbon dioxide levels have occurred, but after a decade of significant rise of 2.5 % every year. The rise is now four times of that in the 90’s. Twice in her article, she had strongly conveyed that increasing temperatures, the resulting melting of ice sheets, the changing weather patterns and rising sea levels are the destructive effects of increased Carbon dioxide levels. This is not supported by any scientific study or rational reasoning.
        The Amount of Carbon dioxide emission by consumption of terrestrial vegetation by animals and microbes causes 220 gigatons of CO2 per year, while the respiration by the vegetation causes another 220 gigatonnes of CO2 per year. The oceans also release about 330 gigatonnes of CO2 every year.

        The human CO2 emission is 26.4 gigatonnes, up from 23.5 gigatons in 90’s. This figure is very small when compared to the CO2 emissions by natural sources. Even the disturbance to land like deforestation and agriculture causes 5.9 gigatonnes per year.

        The major natural sinks for carbon dioxide include the vegetation and the ocean. The oceans take in about the same amount of CO2 that they release in to the atmosphere. In the recent time, they soak in more carbon dioxide then earlier. While the land plants use in 440 gigatonnes of CO2 every year for photosynthesis.  Of the total  CO2 entering the atmosphere 40 % is soaked up by the natural sinks.


        The meaning of greenhouse effect is quite clear in the present time. But, the eventual results are unknown to the people. Carbon dioxide is one of the cause but not the only cause of the recent global warming.  The gases causing greenhouse effect also include carbon dioxide. But gases like methane and CFC, which constitutes a small percentage of the greenhouse gases, absorb several times more heat than the Carbon dioxide.

        The most least blamed greenhouse gas which is the water vapor, is the major factor for warming atmosphere. As the results, suggests the water vapor alone absorbs 60% of the infrared now absorbed by the atmosphere. The removal of carbon dioxide only reduces 16% of the infrared absorbed. If the carbon dioxide would be the only greenhouse gas only 26% of the total infrared now absorbed, would be absorbed.

        About 50% greenhouse effect is caused by water vapor, 25% by the clouds, and 20% by the carbon dioxide and the remaining by other greenhouse gases. Even I was unaware of the clouds being an integral part of greenhouse gases.

        Amy just put forth a graph showing the increased carbon dioxide levels from pre-industrialized era till the present time. This is a flaw in her argument because human life was much simpler then today. It had no comforts of the modern life. The stress on the earth is the cost we have paid for development.
        I do agree with the seriousness of the argument, the concern over the increasing carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere, but just blaming one cause for the issue is not at all justified. The article is meant for the common people who only rely on these types of sources for the knowledge of current scientific issues. Imparting them wrong information confuses them and sends out wrong information about current scientific trends.

        The author had straightly jumped to conclusion that it is carbon dioxide that causes global warming and other destructive effects like melting of ice sheets etc. This should have been avoided because the scientists are also biased about this issue. One pool of scientist believe that increased  level of carbon dioxide is the chief cause of global warming , but the other pool states that global warming is due to the incapability of earth’s natural processes of cyclic heating and cooling within a set period of time.

Ankit Sajwan



   The main article -

·         Heinzerling, By Amy. "Causes of Climate Change: Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions | Sustainablog." Sustainablog: The Green Blog You’ve Trusted since 2003. June-July 2010. Web.

Other References –

·         "Climate Myths: Human CO2 Emissions Are Too Tiny to Matter - Environment - 16 May 2007 - New Scientist." Science News and Science Jobs from New Scientist - New Scientist. New Scientist. Web.
·         "Climate Myths: CO2 Isn't the Most Important Greenhouse Gas - Environment - 16 May 2007 - New Scientist." Science News and Science Jobs from New Scientist - New Scientist. New Scientist. Web.
·         "Carbon Dioxide Is Not the Reason behind Global Warming." Free Articles Directory | Submit Articles - Web.

1 comment: