Sunday, October 18, 2009

Marine plant life holds the secret to preventing global warming

Summary: Marine plant life sucks 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, but most of the plankton responsible never reaches the seabed to become a permanent carbon store. Their capacity to absorb the emissions is under threat, however: the habitats are being lost at a rate of up to 7 per cent a year, up to 15 times faster than the tropical rainforests. A third have already been lost.

Comment: It seems that nowadays there really isn't much debate as to which gasses are harmful to the environment, or that global warming exists. We may or may not be right about this, but the fact of the matter is that correlations are simply too strong for us to ignore the situation. Talks of carbon sequestration are evermore a reality. Governments are paying more attention towards reducing CO2 emissions, whether it may be by forcing regulations on certain industries or cap and trade , tax...etc.
So, where do we need to look? The carbon cycle is a good place to start. The cycle gives us an indication of where everything goes, where everything is transformed, absorbed and so on. A closer analysis of this cycle gives us an idea of where exactly we are influencing the cycle. The main problem isn't really how much CO2 we emit, but how much of the CO2 emitted by us is excess. In other words, how much of it doesn't follow the cycle and simply accumulates. This really is the only CO2 that needs to be controlled as this is the main reason for global warming.
The carbon cycle indicates that on average, in modern day terms, the atmosphere has an excess of about 3.2 billion tons of carbon that it can not flow to other areas. If you click here you have an idea of what sort of flows exist. Now the ocean as we all know plays a huge part in absorbing most of what we emit into the atmosphere, and in fact has been one of the mains reasons why the world has not warmed up faster. Most of us don't know how important it trully is and yet we make no effort to protect it or maintain it. It in fact holds a major role in our future. Marine life absorbs so much CO2 that if we invest money into protecting the marine mangrove forests and actually plan to expand them, more and more CO2 may be absorbed naturally in the carbon cycle giving us more time to breathe and come up with alternate solutions to calm down the environment.

1 comment:

Colt Kaiser said...

This is very interesting because the majority of the press that you here about the forest deforestation. There is rarely anything said on the part that our marine plant life plays on reducing our carbon emission. What is also interesting, is the ideas of algae harvesting for fuel. Even though they were not really mentioned in this article, they too are a valuable source of reducing carbon. So would a protection on carbon reducers in the ocean put a halt on any possible means of algae as a fuel source in the future? These are questions that we all will have to face in the future. It does however seem imperative that we put ocean forests in the same league as tropical forests because they serve the same purpose.