News / Environment
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Understanding CO2
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CO2 & Environmental Restoration

Politics, money, weapons, war and anything else that makes a profit, must take a back seat to humanity's most important goal - Survival. Because of the rapid decay of the environment today, and because not enough is being done to correct the situation, it may be conservative to say that humanity has between 50 and 75 years left on this planet. It could even be as little as twenty years in the worst case scenario if we don't act soon. Humanity needs to drastically reduce the impact we have on the environment and establish global environmental restoration projects quickly.

The reason for these dire numbers is simple. Humanity and the rest of the plant and animal kingdoms are organic and temperature has a lot to do with the survival of any living organism. As people debate the profit that can be generated by a new Artic Ocean passage or who actually owns the land up there, they fail to remember that unlike the physical possessions we own, if global temperatures keep rising, many species unaccustomed to these temperatures in oceans, seas and on land will die. We should not be so arrogant as to exclude ourselves from that predicament either.

Plant life and micro organisms are probably the most susceptible to unaccustomed rises in temperature on the land and in the sea. Anyone who has left a plant in a hot car will realise that although the plant gets home in the evening looking somewhat good, the next morning it starts its gradual decay that cannot be reversed. More complex species, like ourselves, have cooling mechanisms but they can only tolerate temperatures that were experienced in their evolutionary development. If a significant number of plant life die on Earth we are finished, because there will be nothing left to create oxygen for us.

Since 1957, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has been measuring CO2 and other atmospheric changes in the earth's atmosphere and since then the CO2 levels have risen from 315 ppm to 375 ppm, or a 19% increase. It is estimated that the CO2 levels have risen by approximately 35% since 1900. The issue is not so much what is an acceptable level of CO2 as it is the rise over approximately 100 years is dramatic compared to the infinitely longer evolutionary period of the animal and plant kingdoms. Also in 2007, we are seeing dramatic changes to the weather, significant hurricanes, flooding, and drops in lake water levels across the globe. Nobody has the exact answer as to what is causing the rapid environmental changes, but CO2 increases and other man made activities are vastly affecting what was a previous earth equilibrium. In 1900 humanity had much less of an impact on the global environment.

If global CO2 readings are at 375 ppm today, then this number will accelerate drastically with the rapid addition of coal power plants in India and China on top of the ones that are already in the United States. This coupled with the reduction of trees and other green vegetation in rain forests around the world that can convert CO2 to oxygen (O2) means even more acceleration in CO2 and other pollutants in the upper atmosphere. The only actions that will reverse the rise in CO2 and eliminate global warming are severe reductions in global CO2 emissions to just 20% of the current outputs (80% reduction) and the re-planting of trees, large reductions in unnecessary waste of fresh water, and efforts to regain vegetation through planting in Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia, South America, and the Pacific West Coast. This is the only thing that will cause CO2 levels to come down - otherwise we are doomed and its just a matter of time.


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