Challenges of Carbon emission to humanity
Its true that carbon emission has become a central issue of human concern. It is also true that it has a lot of effects to humanity and nature as we. While there are proposed measures to control carbon emission, it is mainly caused by the humans themselves due to their activities. The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere has been rising extensively during the last 150 years. As a result, it has exceeded the amount sequestered in biomass, the oceans, and other sinks. World scientists have noted that there has been a climb in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere of about 280 ppm in 1850 to 364 ppm in 1998, mainly due to human activities during and after the industrial revolution, which began in 1850. Humans have been increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in air by burning of fossil fuels, by producing cement and by carrying out land clearing and forest combustion. About 22% of the current atmospheric CO2 concentrations exist due to these human activities, considered that there is no change in natural amounts of carbon dioxide. We will take a closer look at these effects in the next few paragraphs and the possible challenges and solution. The principle aim of this paper is to discuss the assertion that Carbon emission has become a central issue of human concern. It will explain the challenges it posses to humanity and internationally binding solutions that has been proposed. The paper will begin by exploring the nature of carbon emission causes, its problems and how it can be controlled as proposed by a number of scholars.
Studies has shown that carbon emission is caused by Carbon dioxide of chemical formula CO2 which is a chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom, Ralph (1999). It is a gas at standard temperature and pressure and exists in Earth’s atmosphere in this state. CO2 is a trace gas comprising 0.039% of the atmosphere. As part of the carbon cycle known as photosynthesis, plants, algae, and cyanobacteria absorb carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water to produce carbohydrate energy for themselves and oxygen as a waste product. By contrast, during respiration they emit carbon dioxide, as do all other living things that depend either directly or indirectly on plants for food. Carbon dioxide is also generated as a by-product of combustion; emitted from volcanoes, hot springs, and geysers; and freed from carbonate rocks by dissolution suggesting that some causes of carbon emission cannot be controlled because they are natural. As of October 2010, carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is at a concentration of 388 ppm by volume. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide fluctuate slightly with the change of the seasons, driven primarily by seasonal plant growth in the Northern Hemisphere. Concentrations of carbon dioxide fall during the northern spring and summer as plants consume the gas, and rise during the northern autumn and winter as plants go dormant, die and decay. Taking all this into account, the concentration of CO2 grew by about 2 ppm in 2009. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas as it transmits visible light but absorbs strongly in the infrared and near-infrared (Ralph, 1999, Salvado, 1992).
The challenges posed by carbon emission to humanity have very serious negative effects. Many years ago when technology was not in abundance, carbon emissions were never a challenge. But todsy the increase in technology has changed a number of things world wide affecting humanity in every way. Many years ago terms like green living and carbon neutral were commonly uttered and rarely promoted, it was decided that enough was enough with what was there. Everyone was doing this or was on a mission to communicate the message to every home and business that they can make a difference in reversing the negative effects of carbon emissions and otherwise destructive behavior and this trend can be brought in today. It can make a lot of sense in reducing or solving this problem. Although the eras are different from today’s, it felt that the talk was right, but the vehicle did not exist to any great degree thats where we come in. An accessible, non-intimidating way to make a difference where it matters most.
Carbon emission has caused a lot of challenges and trouble in nature like trees which in turn affects human life. The environment and humans are on a dangerous collision course. Our population grows, we produce more, we displace species and develop over existing and often fragile ecosystems to accommodate our growth, we consume resources without adequately replacing them then we manage to spit what we don’t need back out in the form of harmful emissions. We are already reading about the lack of global vegetation to adequately absorb the carbon emissions we are producing and our collective response it to further reduce the vegetation to accommodate our own needs. If we can reduce carbon emissions and bring back more vegetation, we can begin to achieve harmony between the earth and its inhabitants, Chris (1997).
Hopkins (2003) says the challenges of carbon emission has caused us to live in the limelight. Environmental concerns have finally made their way into the realm of social and, in turn, political relevance over the last decade. The environment is indeed in the limelight of social and political discussion. While those in government try to figure out how to write and enforce laws to balance both supporting the economy and achieving environmental sustainability, the private sector is free to start without them. There has never been a time where the environment is more pertinent to everyday discussion. To not capitalize on this opportunity and attempt to change the daily behavior of those willing to listen would be an opportunity squandered by those who understand the need to fix what is increasingly becoming the greatest societal crisis in the history of mankind. A wise man once said, If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. It is your decision, your choice to make a difference or not.
Measures to control the challenge of carbon emission have been in put in many government areas. Global Carbon Care seeks out carbon emission reduction or sequestration programs that provide an additional and sustainable benefit to the battle against the negative effects of carbon emissions. We focus on projects that meet Gold Standard or equivalent standards to ensure that the projects you help fund provide the greatest impact in the battle to reduce the presence of carbon emissions.
Those working at Global Carbon Care have faith in the general goodness and want of mankind to care for and respect the planet we all share. They have also not nave to the fact that a voluntary carbon offset is not high on the list of priorities for those without the means to do so. They focus on projects that meet Gold Standard or equivalent standards to ensure that the projects you help fund provide the greatest impact in the battle to reduce the presence of carbon emissions.
ScienceDaily (Jan. 4, 2008) a Stanford scientist has spelled out for the first time the direct links between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increases in human mortality, using a state-of-the-art computer model of the atmosphere that incorporates scores of physical and chemical environmental processes. The new findings come to light just after the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent ruling against states setting specific emission standards for this greenhouse gas based in part on the lack of data showing the link between carbon dioxide emissions and their health effects.
While it has long been known that carbon dioxide emissions contribute to climate change, the new study details how for each increase of one degree Celsius caused by carbon dioxide, the resulting air pollution would lead annually to about a thousand additional deaths and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma in many parts of the world like Zambia specically in Lusaka and copperbelt, the United States, china and other countries, according to the paper by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. Worldwide, upward of 20,000 air-pollution-related deaths per year per degree Celsius may be due to this greenhouse gas from cars and other industries, Ralph (1999). “This is a cause and effect relationship, not just a correlation,” said Jacobson of his study, which on Dec. 24 was accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters. The study is the first specifically to isolate carbon dioxide’s effect from that of other global-warming agents and to find quantitatively that chemical and meteorological changes due to carbon dioxide itself increase mortality due to increased ozone, particles and carcinogens in the air.”
Jacobson said that the research has particular implications for many parts of the world. This study finds that the effects of carbon dioxide’s warming are most significant where the pollution is already severe. Given that USA California is home to six of the 10 U.S. cities with the worst air quality, the state is likely to bear an increasingly disproportionate burden of death if no new restrictions are placed on carbon dioxide emissions. This also may apply in many other parts of the world where this apply.
On Dec. 19, the Environmental Protection Agency denied countries and 16 other states a waiver that would have allowed the states to set their own emission standards for carbon dioxide, which are not currently regulated. The EPA denied the waiver partly on the grounds that no special circumstances existed to warrant an exception for the states. Stephen L. Johnson, the EPA administrator, was widely quoted as saying that California’s petition was denied because the state had failed to prove the “extraordinary and compelling conditions” required to qualify for a waiver. While previous published research has focused on the global effect on pollution–but not health–of all the greenhouse gases combined, the EPA noted that, under the Clean Air Act, it has to be shown that there is a reasonable anticipation of a specific pollutant endangering public health in the United States for the agency to regulate that pollutant.
Jacobson’s paper offers concrete evidence that many states with a lot of carbon technologies is facing a particularly dire situation if carbon dioxide emissions increase. “With six of the 10 most polluted cities in the nation being in USA and China, that alone creates a special circumstance for the state,” he said, explaining that the health-related effects of carbon dioxide emissions are most pronounced in areas that already have significant pollution. As such, increased warming due to carbon dioxide will worsen people’s health in those cities at a much faster clip than elsewhere in the nation.
According to Jacobson, more than 30 percent of the 1,000 excess deaths (mean death rate value) due to each degree Celsius increase caused by carbon dioxide occurred in California, which has a population of about 12 percent of the United States. This indicates a much higher effect of carbon dioxide-induced warming on California health than that of the nation as a whole.
Jacobson added that much of the population of the United States already has been directly affected by climate change through the air they have inhaled over the last few decades and that, of course, the health effects would grow worse if temperatures continue to rise. Jacobson’s work stands apart from previous research in that it uses a computer model of the atmosphere that takes into account many feedbacks between climate change and air pollution not considered in previous studies. Developed by Jacobson over the last 18 years, it is considered by many to be the most complex and complete atmospheric model worldwide. It incorporates principles of gas and particle emissions and transport, gas chemistry, particle production and evolution, ocean processes, soil processes, and the atmospheric effects of rain, winds, sunlight, heat and clouds, among other factors.
For this study, Jacobson used the computer model to determine the amounts of ozone and airborne particles that result from temperature increases, caused by increases in carbon dioxide emissions. Ozone causes and worsens respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, emphysema and asthma, and many published studies have associated increased ozone with higher mortality. “[Ozone] is a very corrosive gas, it erodes rubber and statues,” Jacobson said. “It cracks tires. So you can imagine what it does to your lungs in high enough concentrations.” Particles are responsible for cardiovascular and respiratory illness and asthma.
Jacobson arrived at his results of the impact of carbon dioxide globally and, at higher resolution, over the United States by modeling the changes that would occur when all current human and natural gas and particle emissions were considered versus considering all such emissions except human-emitted carbon dioxide.
Jacobson simultaneously calculated the effects of increasing temperatures on pollution. He observed two important effects: Higher temperatures due to carbon dioxide increased the chemical rate of ozone production in urban areas and secondly, increased water vapor due to carbon dioxide-induced higher temperatures boosted chemical ozone production even more in urban areas.
Interestingly, neither effect was so important under the low pollution conditions typical of rural regions, though other factors, such as higher organic gas emissions from vegetation, affected ozone in low-pollution areas. Higher emissions of organic gases also increased the quantity of particles in the air, as organic gases can chemically react to form particles.
And in general, where there was an increase in water vapor, particles that were present became more deadly, as they swelled from absorption of water. “That added moisture allows other gases to dissolve in the particles–certain acid gases, like nitric acid, sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid,” Jacobson said. That increases the toxicity of the particles, which are already a harmful component of air pollution.
Jacobson also found that air temperatures rose more rapidly due to carbon dioxide than did ground temperatures, changing the vertical temperature profile, which decreased pollution dispersion, thereby concentrating particles near where they formed.
In the final stage of the study, Jacobson used the computer model to factor in the spatially varying population of the United States with the health effects that have been demonstrated to be associated with the aforementioned pollutants.”The simulations accounted for the changes in ozone and particles through chemistry, transport, clouds, emissions and other processes that affect pollution,” Jacobson said. “Carbon dioxide definitely caused these changes, because that was the only input that was varied. Ultimately, you inhale a greater abundance of deleterious chemicals due to carbon dioxide and the climate change associated with it, and the link appears quite solid,” he said. “The logical next step is to reduce carbon dioxide: That would reduce its warming effect and improve the health of people in the world and around the cities who are currently suffering from air pollution health problems associated with it,” (Jacobson 1992).
Due to this challenge, many people have become too focused on the effects that carbon dioxide emissions have on global warming, and have forgotten the many other negative consequences of this pollutant. The massive amounts of carbon dioxide humans put into the atmosphere each year have dire effects on human health. These carbon emissions also have a large impact on the world’s oceans – affecting ocean acidity and having drastic consequences for marine life or people working in the oceans.
Carbon emission affects the lives of the marines and those working along the oceans because it causes acidification in the oceans. The ocean is important to the carbon cycle and has absorbed about half of the carbon emissions created by humans since the Industrial Revolution. This absorbed carbon dioxide affects ocean chemistry, which in turn affects marine life. As Marah Hardt and Carl Safina describe in the June 24, 2008 Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media article “Covering Ocean Acidification: Chemistry and Considerations” the ocean has a pH of 8.06, making it slightly alkaline. However, carbon dioxide [CO2] reacts with seawater [H2O] to create carbonic acid [H2CO3]. This reaction releases hydrogen ions [H+] which makes the ocean more acidic. The acidity of a solution is measured using the pH scale, which measures the amount of hydrogen ions [H+] in a solution.
Studies has explained how carbon dioxide emissions affect marine life that relies on calcium carbonate to live. These creatures include corals, mollusks, calcareous algae, and echinoderms such as sea stars and sea urchins. These creatures take up carbonate from the ocean to form calcium carbonate, the building block these creatures use to form their skeletons. However, as people create more carbon emissions and more carbon dioxide enters the ocean, there is less carbonate to go around. This is because of the hydrogen ions released when carbon dioxide mixes with seawater. The hydrogen ions [H+] bind to carbonate [CO32-] to form bicarbonate [HCO3-]. This results in less carbonate for creatures such as corals to use, thus reducing the growth of corals and other marine life. In turn this has a profound effect on the marine food web.
Ralph (1999) and Salvado (1992) says Carbon emissions affect the ability of corals to grow and maintain their structures. Excessive carbon dioxide is also affecting the symbiotic relationship corals have with algae, a relationship necessary for corals to survive. As Michael Perry describes in the October 28, 2008 Reuters article “Rising CO2 accelerates coral bleaching: study”, increased carbon emissions are destroying coral reefs. He notes an Australian study that shows coralline algae to be extremely sensitive to increased carbon dioxide levels. Increased carbon dioxide leads to coral bleaching, which means algae are leaving their corals, resulting in coral death.
Ralph (1999) and Salvado have stressed on the Importance of Reducing Carbon Dioxide for Ocean Health saying that It is important to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Increased levels of carbon do not only affect shelled animals. All marine life will have to cope with ocean acidification, and not all species will adjust to new acidity levels easily. Coral reefs are biodiverse areas, vital to the survival of many species. Losing these ecosystems could have a huge effect on fisheries and thus on the human diet. It’s possible to reduce carbon emissions in daily life by conserving energy, reducing waste, and buying carbon offsets.
Chris (1997) says carborn emissions are dangerous for human bodies. carbon dioxide is essential for internal respiration in a human body. Internal respiration is a process, by which oxygen is transported to body tissues and carbon dioxide is carried away from them. Carbon dioxide is a guardian of the pH of the blood, which is essential for survival. The buffer system in which carbon dioxide plays an important role is called the carbonate buffer. It is made up of bicarbonate ions and dissolved carbon dioxide, with carbonic acid. The carbonic acid can neutralize hydroxide ions, which would increase the pH of the blood when added. The bicarbonate ion can neutralize hydrogen ions, which would cause a decrease in the pH of the blood when added. Both increasing and decreasing pH is life threatening.
Apart from being an essential buffer in the human system, carbon dioxide is also known to cause health effects when the concentrations exceed a certain limit. The primary health dangers or challenges of carbon dioxide are: Asphyxiation which is caused by the release of carbon dioxide in a confined or unventilated area. This can lower the concentration of oxygen to a level that is immediately dangerous for human health. Frostbite which is solid carbon dioxide is always below -78 oC at regular atmospheric pressure, regardless of the air temperature. Handling this material for more than a second or two without proper protection can cause serious blisters, and other unwanted effects. Carbon dioxide gas released from a steel cylinder, such as a fire extinguisher, causes similar effects. Kidney damage or coma is another challenge and this is caused by a disturbance in chemical equilibrium of the carbonate buffer. When carbon dioxide concentrations increase or decrease, causing the equilibrium to be disturbed, a life threatening situation may occur, Hopkins (2003).
The challenge of carbon emission also relates the greenhouse effect. In the 19th century, scientists realized that gases in the atmosphere cause a “greenhouse effect” which affects the planet’s temperature. These scientists were interested chiefly in the possibility that a lower level of carbon dioxide gas might explain the ice ages of the distant past. At the turn of the century, Svante Arrhenius calculated that emissions from human industry might someday bring a global warming. Other scientists dismissed his idea as faulty. In 1938, G.S. Callendar argued that the level of carbon dioxide was climbing and raising global temperature, but most scientists found his arguments implausible. It was almost by chance that a few researchers in the 1950s discovered that global warming truly was possible. In the early 1960s, C.D. Keeling measured the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: it was rising fast. Researchers began to take an interest, struggling to understand how the level of carbon dioxide had changed in the past, and how the level was influenced by chemical and biological forces. They found that the gas plays a crucial role in climate change, so that the rising level could gravely affect our future. Carbon Dioxide is the Key to Climate Change. The new carbon-14 measurements were giving scientists solid data to chew on. Researchers began to work out just how carbon moves through its many forms in the air, ocean, minerals, soils, and living creatures. They plugged their data into simple models, with boxes representing each reservoir of carbon (ocean surface waters, plants, etc.), and arrows showing the exchanges of CO2 among the reservoirs. The final goal of most researchers was to figure out how much of the CO2 produced from fossil fuels was sinking into the oceans, or perhaps was being absorbed by vegetation. But along the way there were many curious puzzles, which forced researchers to make inquiries among experts in far distant fields. Biosphere during the 1960s, these tentative contacts among almost entirely separate research communities developed into ongoing interchanges. Scientists who studied biological cycles of elements such as nitrogen and carbon (typically supported by forestry and agriculture interests) got in touch with, among others, geochemists (typically in academic retreats like the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California). This emerging carbon-cycle community began to talk with atmospheric scientists who pursued interests in weather prediction (typically at government-funded laboratories like the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, or the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey). One valuable example of this crossover of interests was a calculation published by Princeton computer specialists in 1967. They had managed to produce a model that simulated something roughly like the actual climate of the planet, with deserts and sea ice and trade winds in all the right places. Out of curiosity they doubled the amount of CO2 in their simulated atmosphere. The simulated global temperature rose a couple of degrees, Chris (1997) and Hopkins (2003).
The carbon emissions challenge is worldwide covering big industrialized cities. For example, transport is Australia’s third largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 14 percent of the total. Even though commercial vehicles only comprise 18 percent of Australia’s vehicle fleet, they account for 38 percent of road transport GHG emissions (AGO 2007).
Ralph Hostetter in his paper of Monday, Jan. 8, 2007 review a number of issues with regard to carbon emission. He says combustion of fossil fuels accounts for more than 98 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in many parts of the wold causing a great challenge. Less than 2 percent comes from other sources. However, transportation (all cars, trucks, buses, planes, trains, etc.) accounts for 33 percent of the CO2 emissions. All other fossil fuel uses including coal-fired electric generating plants account for the remainder. Over 50 percent of U.S. electrical energy is produced by coal. Coal produces more CO2 emissions per kilowatt hour of electricity generated than do other fossil fuels. Nearly all the global-warming complaints involving CO2 emissions have been directed at the transportation sector and, in particular, automobiles such as the SUV.
In reality, with all other factors considered, the automobile is but a part of the transportation sector which accounts for only one-third of all CO2 emissions nationally. If auto transportation were to be considered as much as two-thirds of the entire transportation sector, coal-fired electrical generating plants would contribute nearly three times the CO2 emissions as the automobile segment. Elimination of all automobiles would reduce CO2 emissions by 22 percent. But everyone knows that is an impossibility. There is no substitute for the automobile. It is possible, however, to phase out coal-fired electrical generating plants in the future and reduce CO2 emissions (which the global warmers are demanding) by some 60 percent, a figure that equals the draconian demands of the Kyoto Protocol.
The major challenge of carbon emission can never be ever emphasized. Unlike the emissions of acid gases and particulates from fossil fuel-fired power stations, CO2 emissions have a global impact that could lead to climate change. Our understanding of the influence of atmospheric CO2 concentration on global temperatures and the implications of that on climate change is improving. The Stern report stated: “An overwhelming body of scientific evidence now clearly indicates that climate change is a serious and urgent issue.”
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in average global air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising mean global sea levels. Paleoclimate information supports the interpretation that the temperatures witnessed over the last half-century are unusual compared with at least the previous 1,300 years. The last time the polar regions were significantly warmer than present for an extended period of time (about 125,000 years ago), reductions in polar ice volume led to a rise in the sea level of 4–6 metres. Most of the observed increase in average global temperatures since the mid 20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas oncentrations.
It is also clear that discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns. For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of Special Reports on Emission Scenarios (SRES). Even if concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected. Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century. Anthropogenic warming and sea-level rises would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were stabilised. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fourth assessment report highlighted that: “Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide … have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed … values … spanning many thousands of years. The global increases in carbon dioxide concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land-use change …”. This shows that action on CO2 emissions cannot be deferred and that man’s previous activities may have already initiated climate change that will take decades to rectify. However, although the developed world has now started to break the link between growth in gross domestic product (GDP) and CO2 emissions, emerging economies are at the stage at which this link is still in place. Only through co-ordinated global action can CO2 concentrations be stabilised at levels that will not precipitate profound global climate change and its economic ramifications. It is the role of governments and regional bodies – such as the EU – to find routes to achieve the goal of all civilised societies: low-cost, reliable and sustainable electricity.
There are a number of proposed solutions for reducing carbon emissions especially on the part of humans. While it is difficult to reduce human emissions without massive efforts from the different generations in different parts, it is possible for governments to take the challenge and control this carbon emission caused by humans. Carbon emission caused by natural forces would be very difficult to control. However, power stations produce a significant share of the world’s CO2 emissions. In order to reduce CO2 emissions from the power generation sector, there are two routes according to this study: firstly, displacing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired plants by substituting lower or zero CO2 power plants, for example by replacing coal-fired plants with gas-fired plants or by building renewables (e.g. wind or hydro) or nuclear plants. Secondly, reduction of emissions of existing plants by fuel substitution (e.g.biomass), efficiency improvements (e.g. steam turbine cylinder replants) or, potentially, through carbon capture and storage. Thelatter would need to be applied to new fossil fuel-fired plants.
It can be concluded that the paper has shown the challenges of carbon emission on humanity and the effects it has including the possible resolutions as proposed may many stake holders discussed in the paper. It was poited out that on the ways forwad, there is need to address a number of technological facilities and equipments. At the central, there are three issues that need to be resolved before carbon capture,
transport and storage can be deployed, firstly technological issues where there is need to use most appropriate technology and
scale-up. Secondly, there is need for regulatory issues, including already infected personnel for treatment of captured and
stored CO2; and lastly there is need for financial issues where there is a big cost penalty that needs to be paid for (ultimately by the customer, as per the renewable and therefore, industries needs to work with governments in all of these areas, as
governments help to fund R&D and only they can change laws and regulations. Governments and industry including the community world wide will find a better way of controlling the challenges.
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Hopkins, T. (2003). The effects of Carbon Emission to Nature and Humanity. Circulatory educational article
Jacobson C. (1992) The effect of carbon emission on nature and humanity.
Salvado N (1992) Carbon dioxide and its statistical causes in the Energy Information Administration.
Ralph E. H. (1999) Constituent of Carbon Emission and its effects on agricultural and nations.
Ralph (1999) Salvado (1992) Chris (1997) Hopkins (2003)