The Carbon Thread

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
'Carbon emmissions' is a rather lazy term (not having a go, swears, I know everyone uses it), people should say 'carbon dioxide emmissions' if that's what they mean - methane, which also contains carbon, is a much worse greenhouse gas (weight for weight), while chloroflourocarbons are worse still.

So a ton of carbon in the form of CFCs is much worse, environmentally, than a ton of carbon in CO2.
 
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Woebot

Administrator
Staff member
remember the whole "cows farting" spiel that the USA laid on us before kyoto?

well apparently it aint such a joke. (i think) it's a source of approx 15% of our carbon!

which is a good argument for being a vegan they say...
 

dHarry

New member
George Monbiot seems to me to be the most reliable watchdog on the sorry state of the planet vis-a-vis carbon emissions and governments' failur eto do anything about it. (And I have to say that Woebot's derisory comments about him here not so long ago were misleading and unfair.)

This is well worth reading.
 

swears

preppy-kei
stupid question

Right, I'm not really up on my science, so this question may seem a bit daft but it's something I've wondered for a while now. Can we actually reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere by cutting emissions, or are we simply stopping the situation getting any worse? Where does the excess carbon dioxide go? Into the water supply, into the earth...or is it up there forever?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
CO2 is naturally soaked up by plants: they use the carbon to form carbohydrates (sugars, starches and cellulose) and output oxygen (O2). So if human CO2 emmissions suddenly stopped - or were even just reduced to a manageable level - the excess CO2 in the atmosphere would eventually be reduced to the natural equilibrium level. I have no idea how long this would take, mind you. The problem at the moment is that CO2 emmissions are continuously increasing, while the amount of rainforest (they're not called 'the lungs of the planet' for nothing) is constantly decreasing.
 
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dHarry

New member
Trees use ("fix") carbon; animals exhale, flatulate and emit (in the case of industrial humans) carbon. When trees die the insects, rot etc. which break them down release their carbon again. More trees = less carbon in the atmosphere. Unfortunately trees and the related eco-systems of large rain-forests etc. are being razed all over the planet.
[edit - apologies for simul-post with Mr.Tea's above]
 
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swears

preppy-kei
Oh yeah, I remember now. Animals produce carbon dioxide and plants produce oxygen. That's primary school biology. Christ, I can be dense sometimes.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Oh yeah, I remember now. Animals produce carbon dioxide and plants produce oxygen. That's primary school biology. Christ, I can be dense sometimes.
Don't feel bad - you can be bothered to spell correctly and form proper sentences, which officially puts you in the top 0.1% of the Internet. :)
 

tryptych

waiting for a time
Actually, some recent research has shown plants themselves (along with animals) produce a lot of "greenhouse" emissions - so simply re-foresting may not make things any better...

I will dig up the ref.
 

Grievous Angel

Beast of Burden
I believe (and I am quite happy to be corrected) that the optimal way to get trees to capture carbon is to grow them big and then cut them down while planting more. I.e., not let them rot or be burnt. One of the best things to do with the wood is to use it in construction, so that the carbon in the wood just stays there for decades or centuries.

Anyone got an idea about the sunspots theory? And whether these guys have taken the $10K offered by Texaco for anti-global warming research? It all sounds like nonsense to me but I'm no scientist.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Actually, some recent research has shown plants themselves (along with animals) produce a lot of "greenhouse" emissions - so simply re-foresting may not make things any better...

I will dig up the ref.
That sounds a bit odd. I think plants respire (i.e. use up energy stores like animals do, giving off CO^2 as a waste product) at night, but that they generally give off less CO^2 than they absorb, which is how the early Earth's CO^2-rich atmosphere got converted into an O^2-rich one in the first place, allowing animals to evolve. Er. I think.
 

dHarry

New member
But as the planet heats up the recycling (rotting) process gets accelerated so more carbon is released...
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
But as the planet heats up the recycling (rotting) process gets accelerated so more carbon is released...
Yeah, there are all sorts of suspected feedback-type effects going on - I think seawater is meant to be able to absorb a certain amount of CO2, but its ability to do this is affected by temperature, which is in turn affected by CO2 levels. This introduces (yet more) non-linearities into the equations used to model climate change, making it (even) harder to predict future trends. Having said that, it looks like most of the predictions made in the last ten years or so were under-estimates. :confused:
 
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