In order to understand and appreciate the full impact of the rather disturbing information contained in the Blog post, it is essential that you keep one thing in mind, that is: The number of carbon molecules on the planet is exactly the same today as it was when the earth was first formed. All that has changed in their location. It is the location of the carbon that determines how hot the planet is, or will be. That is because only carbon traps the long wave thermal radiation. This is long wave thermal radiation which is just sunlight bouncing back into space. Carbon can absorb some of this thermal radiation. This warms the carbon molecules which, in turn, radiates this energy as heat. Some of this heat radiates back into space, and some it warms the earth causing the climate to change.
Every organic thing on earth, be it be fish or foul, plant or animal, contains carbon and is in some way in the carbon cycle. There are two types of carbon cycle, the short term carbon cycle and the long term carbon. Each of these cycles is complex. The carbon cycle that is involved with all living things is so complex it has its own area of science called Organic Chemistry. Fortunately, in order to understand the proximate cause – and solution – of climate change, it is not necessary to understand Organic Chemistry, or the carbon molecule structure, or the carbon molecules in the atmosphere. All we need to worry about is the percentage of carbon in the atmosphere. That alone is what determines the earth’s temperature, the quantity, and location, of the carbon.
The carbon can be in any one of several reservoirs. It can be in the ocean, in the earth, in the atmosphere or in any organic matter. If these were the only place carbon could be, and since it is the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere is the only thing that heats up the earth, then the earth’s temperature would stay more or less the same: finite amount of carbon in the atmosphere = finite variation in temperature. But that is not end of the story since we all know that the earth’s temperature has had wide temperature swings over its history. Geologists and other scientists that study the earth’s history will explain in great detail how complex the changes in the earth’s temperature are. However, the bottom line is that the only thing that warms the earth’s atmosphere is carbon, as in CO2. The greater the carbon concentration in the atmosphere, the hotter the planet will be. Venus has way more carbon than the earth does and, as a result, it is many times hotter. Mars as far less carbon than earth and it is many time colder. Furthermore, neither Venus nor Mars has the advantage of being able to regulate the amount of carbon in its atmosphere like the earth can. That is because neither Venus nor Mars as liquid water and photosynthesis. More carbon in the atmosphere means more long-wave thermal radiation can be trapped. More trapped energy in the atmosphere means a warmer planet and more extreme weather. The variable is fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels can be considered carbon that has been taken out of the atmosphere by photosynthesis in the form of CO2, some of which is heated, compressed and chemically changed into fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas. This carbon is no longer in the carbon cycle; the size of the carbon cycle has therefore been reduced, and the earth’s temperature has been permanently cooled. The reverse is also true. If mankind continue burning fossil fuels, without paying attention to the fact that burning fossil fuels effects the earth’s temperature, there is only one thing that happen: the earth is going to continue to heat up.
Because carbon plays the role it does in determining the earth’s temperature, and since the only way to get the carbon out of the earth, in from fossil fuels, back into the atmosphere in the form of CO2, is for mankind to do in manually, it follows that is matters not how fast we do. Once carbon molecules are back in the atmosphere, the damage is done. The carbon is now back in the carbon cycle – forever, and in a position to warm the earth – forever. So how to reduce carbon emissions? There is only one way to take carbon out of the atmosphere permanently, and that is through photosynthesis; only nature can do that to scale. Industry is working on all kinds of complex and technical ways to mechanically remove carbon, but this is pure folly.
It is a complete waste of time and energy for mankind to even think we can remove sufficient amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. The best we could possible hope for is to slow the increase of carbon in the atmosphere. But it is already be explained that once the carbon is release back into the atmosphere, the damage is done – forever, so it doesn’t matter how fast we do it, as long as we do it at all. Furthermore, our civilization is currently emitting about 38 giga tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year. That means in order to reduce the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere we would have to find a way to remove what we are emitting every year. Next, once the CO2 has been removed, we would have to find some place to store it where it is safe. There are several ideas but none of them are completely safe or permanent. The only one that makes sense is mixing the captured CO2 into fresh concrete. This makes some sense save for the fact in order for this technique to work we would have to make a great many buildings and highways every year in order to use that quantity of cement, and in order to do that we have to grow the economy every year. And in order to do that we would have to burn more fossil fuels.
In short, mankind has no option other than to stop all emissions of CO2. This may seem impossible but it is our only option if we expect our species to maintain its tenure on this planet. As difficult at this may be we have to begin somewhere. Our only option is to tell the general population the truth about climate change. Once the public knows, hopefully they will do as Gandhi suggested, “If the people will lead, the leaders will follow.”