The
greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are the most influential towards our planet’s
climate are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. Each
of these have to come from their sources which may be natural or anthropogenic,
as well as where they end afterwards which being their sinks. Unfortunately
ever since the Industrial Revolution the anthropogenic sources have been
increasing the amounts of the GHGs produced but it has been the natural sinks,
especially the atmosphere which are recorded to have very high amounts more
than usual and doesn’t show signs of stopping.

C3.1:
Carbon Dioxide

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CO2 is a GHG that has been seeing a very high spike in atmospheric
quantities as seen in this figure. According to NASA, for the past 400,000
years the atmospheric CO2 level has never risen above 300 CO2 parts per
million until 1950. There
are three anthropogenic factors that account for this sudden change according
to many scientists. 87% of all anthropogenic CO2 has come from, the emissions
of the burning of fossil fuels. These fossil fuels are mainly coal, gas, oil
and peat. Deforestation accounts for 9% and cement manufacturing among other
industrial processes that have been around since the beginning of the
Industrial Revolution account for the other 4% of human caused carbon dioxide. The
burning of fossil fuels and deforestation will be discussed under anthropogenic
factors affecting climate change in the second section. Large amounts of cement
manufacturing has been a result of increase in demand and therefore supply and
production. However with residential companies becoming cheaper with their
builds for people’s houses have begun to use wood rather than cement adding to
the deforestation of our planet. Another point is that deforestation isn’t
purely anthropogenic as it is a natural process, also caused by forest fires
that are part of ecosystems.

            Natural sources
that produce carbon dioxide include the exchange of CO2 between the ocean and
the atmosphere. The ocean being a carbon sink releases CO2 at the surface from
the dissolved CO2 already stored and this goes into the atmosphere.
Approximately the other 57% of natural CO2 sources come from the respiration
from animals and plants which is a by product of when energy is produced. We
also do this, as we breathe in oxygen and release carbon dioxide to as bodily
function which gives us life. Microorganisms
breaking down dead or decaying material, release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
as by product as well.

 

            There are two main carbon dioxide
sinks which are both natural, land-based sink which basically are the plants
that contain CO2 through photosynthesis and oceanic sink that include the photosynthesis
by phytoplankton.  It also
includes the reactions that form carbonate for many marine organisms. In
conclusion, the graph on the right shows the imbalance that fossil fuel burning
is creating and this excess carbon dioxide then is left to the atmosphere.