Climate Change

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

REVIEW: CAPTURING CARBON TO SLOW GLOBAL WARMING – Jamie dePolo

It started out as a far fetched scare, but now global warming has become a scientific reality. Greenhouse gases in the form of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide are the main gasses that act as a car’s window, permitting solar radiation which causes an increase in temperature. Unless the windows stay close, no heat can escape, but if the windows are lowered, heat can escape that refresh the car. The mentioned above process are a modified version of the real greenhouse – effect.

The Kyoto protocol was set up in 1997 with the intention to target greenhouse gas emissions of the developed countries. Due various economic reasons, Australia and the US did not ratify the protocol. Up till today these two countries haven’t agree to the protocol. However, in 2004 Russia approved and confirms their part in the whole global warming and greenhouse scenario. This means that the Kyoto protocol is in binding since February 2005. In the meanwhile, scientists and researchers have look for methods and management strategies that would both benefit farmers and the environment.

The two dominant greenhouse gases are carbon based: Carbon dioxide and Methane. One way of keeping carbon dioxide in the soil rather than in the atmosphere is through tillage management. No till makes soil more stable increasing water and nutrient capacity, resulting in better crop production but it doesn’t end there.
Another way to minimize Carbon concentration is by looking at wetlands.
According this article, wetlands cover about 3% of the Earth’s surface which provide services to humans and carbon sequestering is one of them. Peat lands are wetlands with a different taste. It contains layers of dead biomass that have accumulated over the decades and with as much of 50 % of Carbon stored within it. These peat lands hold approximately 30 % of soil carbon which invite managers to protect this already scarce ecosystem. Studies in Alaska, reveals that as the ice starts to melt, the plants species that are anti – decomposition perform much better and can thus extract more carbon dioxide from atmosphere. However as climate gets warmer the peat lands will get drier and will be more fire prone. The amount of CO2 released from peat lands after a fire is unknown and further studies are necessary to determine that.

To come back to the role of agriculture in carbon sequestering, it will provide a short term solution for the high levels of carbon based compounds until alternative fuel sources are available. Plants and crops use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, but when leaves or other plant matter falls to the ground, it is either converted to CO2 or it will be part of the soil organic matter. Practises such as no tilling, mentioning earlier means that soil are not tilled each and every year, but there are time when the soil are left alone. This will allow carbon to stay longer in the soil and out of the atmosphere. There are also benefits that accompany the no tillage practises, which is mention earlier. Agriculture contributes 20 -40 % to the GHG emissions, thus tackling this problem will reduce CO2 to about 8 – 10% which are required by the Kyoto protocol.

Similar to that of peat lands, the question remain for how long will the soil hold unto the carbon and how easy will it be released when the soil are tilled. Carbon sequestering is not the solution to our problem but it will give us time, something that we don’t have!



PLAGIARISM DECLARATION
1.I know that plagiarism is wrong. Plagiarism is to use another’s work and to pretend that it is one’s own.
2. I have used the CSE/CBE convention for citation and referencing. Each significant contribution to, and quotation in this project from the work, or works, of other people has been attributed, and has been cited and referenced.
3. This assignment is my own work.
4. I have not allowed, and will not allow anyone to copy my work with the intention of passing it off as his or her own work.

1 Comments:

  • I thought water was the main greenhouse gas...

    Regarding carbon (C) sequestration, the increase in C based greenhouse gases is the result of both increased production of the gases and processes such as deforestation which reduce the C sequestration capacity of the earth. I agree with you that C sequestration is not a complete solution but reducing the loss of C sequestration capacity is part of the solution.

    A technical point: what the following phrase "unless the windows stay close, no heat can escape," means is that open windows prevent heat loss, which is the opposite of what you intended to say. The word "unless" should be changed to "if". Also "close" (which is a verb) should be changed to "closed" (which is an adjective describing the state of the windows).

    By Blogger Gwen, at August 24, 2006 8:44 AM  

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