Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a slightly toxic, odorless, colorless gas with a slightly pungent, acid taste. it is currently occurring at an average concentration of about 390 parts per million by volume or 591 parts per million by mass.
CO2 gas is 1.5 times as heavy as air, so if released to the air it will concentrate at low elevations. Warmer air temperatures would result in increased surface-water temperatures, decreased duration of ice cover and, in some cases, lower water levels. These changes may contribute to decreased concentrations of dissolved oxygen.
About three-quarters of the anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere during the past 20 years have been due to fossil-fuel burning. Activities consuming fossil fuels include power generation, transport, industrial/manufacturing processes. The rest of carbon dioxide emissions are predominantly due to land-use change, especially deforestation. The primary reason identified by climate scientists is because of the excess CO2 emitted by the human consumption of fossil fuel.
Humans have increased the content of this carbon dioxide gas in our atmosphere some 30% since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Large quantities of CO2 are produced by lime kilns, which burn limestone (primarily calcium carbonate) to produce calcium oxide ( lime, used to make cement); and in the production of magnesium from dolomite (calcium magnesium carbonate). Other industrial activities which produce large amounts of carbon dioxide are ammonia production and hydrogen production from natural gas or other hydrocarbon raw materials.
Global warming is also the result of an excess of greenhouse gases, by destroying tropical rainforests, which threatens to change climate in an unprecedented manner.. Heat from the sun, reflected back from the earth, is trapped in this thickening layer of gases and global temperatures rise as a result.
Carbon dioxide is constantly being exchanged among the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface as it is both produced and absorbed by many microorganisms, plants, and animals. However, emissions and removal of CO2 by these natural processes tend to balance. Since the Industrial Revolution began around 1750, human activities have contributed substantially to climate change by adding CO2 and other heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere.
Trees have a big role to play in life on earth. Its very common that trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, convert it into carbon and oxygen which is stored as carbohydrates and sugar, and release oxygen back into the atmosphere, so they act as the earth's lungs and purify the atmosphere.
In addition, the ratio of oxygen to nitrogen in the atmosphere has declined as CO2 has increased; this is as expected because oxygen is depleted when fossil fuels are burned. The Southern Ocean is the largest of these ocean carbon sinks, soaking up about 40 percent of mankind's CO2 absorbed by the seas.
Alone we can not solve the problem but as a team we can do so much more to save the planet. Actually the planet will recover. Its us we are saving.
Naseem Sheikh is a guest writer for Celsias. She writes from Lahore in Pakistan