Friday, June 15, 2012

Is carbon dioxide really a pollutant?

In the last decade or so there have certainly been plenty of talks about carbon dioxide (CO2), particularly carbon dioxide emissions that are believed to be the main factor contributing to climate change and global warming impact. Does this make carbon dioxide a pollutant or not?

According to the U.S. environmental protection agency (EPA) carbon dioxide is pollutant, together with other greenhouse gases because primarily because of its role in contributing to climate change, and not because of any direct health effects (like this is the case with some other pollutants).

CO2 is indeed an essential ingredient of all life on our planet, a gas that humans exhale and plants inhale, the gas of vital importance for one of the most important processes on Earth- photosynthesis.

Carbon dioxide is no doubt a natural component of our atmosphere but in „normal levels“, meaning that branding CO2 as pollutant refers only to increased levels of CO2 in our atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide is thought by many scientists to be the greenhouse gas mostly responsible for climate change. The more CO2 in the atmosphere, the more heat gets trapped, leading to climate change and global temperature increase.

This means that carbon dioxide can even be considered as the main pollutant that is warming our planet, opening door for the future environmental disaster of enormous proportions.

In order to curb global warming world needs to decrease the level of CO2 emissions, and this can't be done without the transition to cleaner technologies (the ones emitting less CO2 and other greenhouse gases).

The higher than normal CO2 concentrations are big threat to our future. The scientists fear that the world could soon cross the point of no return (the global temperature increase of two degrees Celsius) after which climate change will become irreversible.

World has to find the way to significantly reduce the level of CO2 emissions, and whether this is done by switching to renewable energy or using different carbon capture and storage (CSS) techniques really doesn't matter much in the end, the most important thing is the result, namely less CO2 in our atmosphere.

If we were to significantly reduce the level of carbon emissions, up to a measure that would halt further climate change impact, then it wouldn’t be necessary to tag carbon dioxide as pollutant. But at this point of time, when carbon emissions continue to increase each year, carbon dioxide is with reason branded as one of the most harmful pollutants.

1 comment:

  1. The CO2 is a minor contributor to global warming and a major factor in cooling by photosynthesis. When CO2 is converted to lignin(trees) 5000 btus per pound of CO2 are removed from the solar energy. With respect to CO2's role in warming consider this; none of the correlations of rise in CO2/temperature can show that CO2 is a cause rather than an effect from some other cause. the cause presently is the heat that is emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels. Since 1960 the fossil fuel usage has increased 800% while the CO2 has increased from 320 t0 380 ppm, a 20% increase in the minor component of greenhouse gas( water vapor 8000 ppm). Is this heat a significant factor? In 2008 16 terrawatts of energy was used. That is 50x10E16 btus. The atmosphere has a mass of 530x10E16 kilograms. this amount of heat has the potential to raise the temperature by 0.17*F. The measured rise was only 0.04*F due to cooling from glacial melting and photosynthesis, and due to heating of the earth's surface. Heat emission alone can account for global warming. There may be a slight effect from the small increase of CO2, but if greenhouse gasses help contain the heat isn't it reasonable that it is the 800% increase in heat rather than the small increase in total greenhouse gasses. Nuclear power emits twice as much total heat as its electrical output. Let's stop attempts to sequester CO2 by any means other than photosynthesis. Let's stop issuing permits for the construction of more nuclear reactors ( conventional or advanced). Our elected officials have not recognized this in developing energy policies domestically nor internationally.