“Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us.” - Henrick Tikkanen

Aquinas College

Carbon Dioxide

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Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless atmospheric gas that is crucial to life on earth. Humans and animals exhale CO2 and plants need it to perform photosynthesis during which they produce life sustaining sugars (or energy). Even though CO2 currently makes up only about 0.13% of the atmosphere, it is an essential element in the Greenhouse Effect. The Greenhouse Effect is not fundamentally a climatic problem as many think. It has been occurring naturally for millennium's and maintains the comfortable climate we require. The Effect results in warmer temperatures on earth as greenhouse gases (ghg) in the atmosphere (mostly carbon dioxide and water vapor), trap incoming and outgoing solar radiation and reflect it back to the earth.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing through carbonaceous or fossil fuel combustion. Besides natural sources of CO2 and fossil fuel combustion, it can sometimes be released as a byproduct of the fermentation of grain to make alcohol as well as from other chemical manufacturing process. Obviously, with the increase in ghg like CO2, the amount of energy reflected back to the ground will increase. This warming of the Earth will slowly increase temperatures and may in turn alter climatic effects such as wet and dry seasons, ocean currents, and monsoons threatening our way of life and the balance of the biosphere.

While Carbon Dioxide is frequently blamed as the sole culprit for global warming, it is actually the least potent ghg, as it holds the least amount of heat. Other green house gases include:

Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming today, however, as it is the most abundant ghg in the atmosphere and its concentration is increasing most rapidly.

Links

Interactive Learning Paradigms, Incorporated (ILPI)

ILPI provides useful introductory information on Carbon Dioxide from a chemistry perspective, including the uses and health dangers of the chemical.

The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change

The Center was created to disseminate factual reports and sound commentary on new developments in the world-wide scientific quest to determine the climatic and biological consequences of the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content. The organization publishes an on-line CO2 Science magazine weekly and the site contains a large collection of archived magazine materials. The web site also contains a section where you can calculate temperature and precipitation trends across the world, as well as specific information on Carbon Dioxide.

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