What's So Bad About Carbon Dioxide?When talking about carbon dioxide's presence in the atmosphere, its concentration is referred to as (x) ppm (parts per million). Carbon dioxide maintains a fairly low concentration, currently around 385 ppm. That means that, for every million particles in the air, 353 of them are carbon dioxide; 0.000385 of earth's atmospheric volume consists of CO2. While its concentration is not very large, each particle contributes a great deal to earth's climate. Carbon dioxide is a strong greenhouse gas. It's not that there's so much of it that it clogs the atmosphere; it's that radiation from the sun comes to the earth in shorter wavelengths, passing through the layer of greenhouse gases, and heat from the surface tries to leave the atmosphere in longer wavelengths, which the greenhouse gases mostly block. More on the greenhouse effect can be found here.
Carbon dioxide is emitted in many ways:
In addition, animal respiration as well as natural carbon dioxide gas will contribute to the emissions. However, plants, through photosynthesis, have previously been able to naturally balance earth's atmospheric ratios, and any excess was often released into space. But nature can't keep up with our new exaggerated output of carbon dioxide, as well as other gases humans have mass produced, such as methane and nitrous oxide. Many argue that nature has pulled through before, and earth's heated climate and melting glaciers are merely another cycle earth has gone through before, and will go through again. But today, the 'cycle' is not natural. Earth has never had to accomdate the amount of pullutants humans have produced. While the waste materials we produce are naturally present on earth, they've never been increased to their current vast amount in such a small timeframe. There is no question whether or not earth's changing condition is the fault of humans. But luckily, if we find a solution for our mistake, we can gradually work our way back to the clean environment we once proudly attributed to our planet.
- When methane is converted into CO2 in ammonia and hydrogen
- Through burning of carbon-containing materials
- As a byproduct of sodium phosphate manufacturing
- As a byproduct of fermentation
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