Carbon Sequestration: Potential for the Future
Most people know that carbon dioxide emissions are gradually becoming a greater and greater danger to the stability of the environment. Heightened levels of this hazardous gas in the atmosphere have already had a huge impact on global temperature as well as the carbon cycle. Excesses of carbon dioxide molecules trap solar radiation inside the Earth’s atmosphere, slowly raising its temperature and thereby altering the world’s ecosystems while simultaneously throwing off the ever important balance between the oxygen produced by photosynthesis and the carbon dioxide produced by cellular respiration (Johnsen et al., n.d., p.
1). In addition to these current atmospheric changes, the greater levels of carbon dioxide emissions expected to be produced by humans in the future promise to increase the potency of these consequences while also creating new ones such as drastic climate change or even rising ocean levels. Taking into account all the threats that high levels of carbon dioxide pose, it becomes clear that humanity must do something in order to address the issue. Surely, reducing carbon dioxide emissions would be the most efficient and effective measure of safeguarding the environment, however, this solution is not particularly practical because of the human population’s dependency on sources of carbon dioxide emissions such as fossil fuels for energy usage. Because of this, it is logical to think that the only pragmatic way to reduce carbon dioxide levels is through siphoning it out of the atmosphere. Of the many potential ways to do this, carbon sequestration is certainly one of the most rational.
This process involves the trapping and storage of carbon dioxide in another form of carbon such as calcium carbonate or glucose which in the end reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Due to their potential for reducing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, both human-made carbon sequestration and human-altered natural processes of carbon sequestration have the potential to counteract the negative effects of humanity’s carbon emissions on the environment. While carbon sequestration processes are certainly not perfect, when compared with other possible methods of reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere carbon sequestration methods are by far the superior in effectiveness and practicality. A large reason behind this is that many carbon sequestration technologies already exist in myriad industries. Carbonated beverage producers, for example, utilize a crude form of carbon sequestration in order to infuse their soft drinks with carbon dioxide (“Develop Carbon Sequestration Methods,” n.d.
). If these sorts of technology could be applied in a similar fashion to coal burning power plants then the benefit for the environment would be substantial as carbon capture and sequestration technologies could be implemented within power plant smoke stacks. The way in which this works is that, “One tower would contain chemicals that isolate carbon dioxide from the other gases (nitrogen and water vapor) that escape into the air and absorb it. A second tower would separate the carbon dioxide from the absorbing chemicals, allowing them to be returned to the first tower for reuse” (“Develop Carbon Sequestration Methods,” n.d.).
By making technologies such as these commonplace in power plants and other factories, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere would be minimized. There are many other ways in which humanity can utilize carbon sequestration to help the environment. For example, carbon dioxide that is captured either directly from the air or from some other source of carbon dioxide can be stored underground. This is one of the safer, more efficient and more reliable methods of human made carbon sequestration (Ritter, 2007). Storing carbon dioxide underground, however, limits the amount of space in which carbon dioxide can be stored. Additionally, it would require the allocation of resources in order to find underground areas fit for the storage of carbon dioxide.
Along with the possibility of capturing carbon dioxide molecules and storing them underground comes the possibility of storing the amassed quantities of carbon dioxide amongst Earth’s air supply in the ocean. This method, as when compared to carbon dioxide capture and storage underground is a much more difficult concept. Using the ocean for carbon storage involves, “…direct injection, which would pump liquefied carbon dioxide a thousand meters deep or deeper, either directly from shore stations or from tankers trailing long pipes at sea” (“Climate Change Scenarios Compel,” n.d.).
The problem with this method, however, is that it has not been explored fully. Experts on carbon sequestration are still debating whether or not it is safe for the ecosystem to use the ocean as a container for humanity’s excess carbon dioxide. In addition, some technology prerequisites still need to be met in order to efficiently implement this strategy. Overall, the potential that carbon sequestration has to improve the future health of the environment is astounding and, as such, it should be the incumbent responsibility of the scientific community to explore this potential further. An additional reason as to why carbon sequestration holds such great potential in terms of counteracting carbon dioxide emissions is that it happens naturally in the environment as well as via human made technologies.
At the top of the list of factors responsible for the amount of carbon dioxide siphoned from the atmosphere are forests. Overall, forests are one of the highest consumers of carbon dioxide, and their potential for storing carbon dioxide is only supposed to rise in the coming years (Song et al., n.d., p.
). The reason as to why trees are so effective in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere lies in the process of photosynthesis. In order to acquire the energy they need to live, plants undergo the process of photosynthesis. For this to take place, they must intake carbon dioxide molecules which they then convert into glucose and oxygen. In this way, the carbon atoms from carbon dioxide molecules are stored in the form of the glucose molecules that are produced via photosynthesis. On account of the potential held by trees to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a future goal of environmentalists ought to be large scale reforestation.
This would result in major reductions in the carbon dioxide levels found in the atmosphere, which would greatly benefit the environment’s health on a variety of different levels. In conclusion, carbon sequestration has the potential to be a long term solution to the high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Through storing the carbon atom from carbon dioxide molecules in other forms such as calcium carbonate or glucose, it is possible for carbon sequestration to drain the Earth’s air supply of its overabundance of carbon dioxide. Whether it is human made or naturally occurring carbon sequestration, it is important that the utilization of carbon sequestration throughout the world be maximized. This way, humanity will be able to counteract the high levels of carbon dioxide that it has released into the atmosphere, thereby creating the potential for a healthier environmental future ? References Climate Change Scenarios Compel Studies of Ocean Carbon Storage. (n.
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