Carbon sequestration

Carbon Sequestering is a form of Global Warming (climate change) Mitigation. Mitigation uses different tactics to either postpone or moderate the effects of Global Warming. Mitigation buys us time to think of other ways to stop climate change and research and develop more efficient, permanent solutions. Besides this, mitigation techniques, such as Carbon Sequestering allows us more time to understand the true causes and operations of Global Warming, as to avoid its worse consequences later on.

Above: World Tempurature Predictions From Global Warming

Carbon Sequestration refers to the provision of lasting storage of carbon in the earthly biosphere, underground, or the seas so that the upsurge of carbon dioxide (the principal greenhouse gas) intensity in the atmosphere will reduce or decelerate. The basic principle is to remove the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it into the earth in different ways. These include:


Above: CO2 Emissions and Tempurature

Carbon Sequestering in Trees

Trees are basically natural CO2 containers, as they store the carbon dioxide in their leaves, roots, and stems, as they complete photosynthesis. As trees continue to grow larger and in numbers, they can hold more and more CO2, which means there will be less in the atmosphere. However, humans have interfered with nature’s moderation cycle as we constantly clear-cut forests to make way for our growing population. This not only limits the amount of trees planted, but as these trees are cut and usually burnt, they release all of their stored CO2 back into the atmosphere. So, a way to try and mitigate the intensity of Global warming is to preserve trees and plant many more, to continue to absorb some of the CO2 from the atmosphere and lessen the load of the harmful greenhouse gasses which are destroying our way of life and increasing our gloabl tempurature. It is estimated, if tree planting continues and clear-cutting is decreased, our planet’s trees could potentially remove 10% to 15% of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere!


Carbon Sequestering in the Ocean

Scientists believe that they can also deposit large amounts of CO2 into the deep ocean, since it is soluble in ocean water. Naturally, ocean microorganisms like algae and phytoplankton consume CO2 during photosynthesis, and many oceanographers as well see potential in this theory. They say, by adding iron, as well as other necessary minerals like nitrates and phosphates, which will increase phytoplankton blooms. This will then create more oxygen as more CO2 is pulled from the atmosphere to complete photosynthesis. About 20% of the ocean’s surface is rich in nutrients, but low in iron, as it is a limiting factor. If the ocean could be fertilized with iron, the enhanced greenhouse effect could be reversed! Another plus to this theory is that as there will be more phytoplankton present, there will be overall more organisms dying, and as theses phytoplankton die, their bodies sink down to the bottom. As they fall to the ocean floor, the carbon dioxide they consumed also is stored at the ocean’s depths. This theory has been tested and successful in the equatorial area of the Pacific Ocean, however, in the southern Polar ocean, the increased iron did not increase the amount of carbon being exported.

Could Carbon Sequestering Really Help Stop Global Warming?

Well, Carbon sequestering will not give an immediate effect, but over time and with increased cooperation, it can help. No one, single task will eliminate the damage done by climate change, but we cannot become discouraged. As many thought the hole in the ozone layer would never return, through reduction of CFC’s and other ozone depletes, we were able to restore our vital “shield”. Now we must all try and contribute to stopping Global Warming, just as we all contributed to creating the problem. Although planting a tree may not seem important now, but over time, if every person planted a tree, we could significantly reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is our part, as the new generation to stop Global Warming, so it s not the problem of the next generation.

Above: Global Potential for Carbon Sequestration

By Nicholas Parisi

More Links:

Opposing View Point: Against Carbon Sequestering

The U.S. Department of Energy:
DOE Center for Research on Enhancing Carbon Sequestration in Terrestrial Ecosystem:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory
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