One thing that has puzzled me for some time is a simple question . Where did all the carbon come from
It's a simple yet obvious problem . The is a lot of carbon in the earth - lime stone , oil , coal etc etc in amounts too big for my simple brain to cope with. Most of it as a result of natural processes . So logically it must have been in the atmosphere to begin with .
If this is the case then are we not seeing a return to previous atmospheric conditions ? I know there are fossils in the coal of two foot wide Dragonflys are those conditions the norm for this planet ?
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
There is a myth out there that plants and our existing climate can cope with higher levels of CO2 and the consequent higher temperatures.
The problem lies in defining what's normal. Global carbon dioxide levels have been on a downward trend since their peak in the Cambrian period, roughly 550 million years ago. The coal seams were laid down in, to most animals, hellish anoxic swamps that they couldn't survive in. This dropped atmospheric CO2 levels from 4000 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to levels very similar to those today (about 400ppmv) and crashed average atmospheric temperatures from ~20C to ~12C.
CO2 levels have fluctuated before and since. For much of that period we had a dimmer sun (ours has been slowly getting hotter) so, during the Ordovician for example, the threshold for glaciation was 3000ppmv.
The question is not "what's normal?", but "what have extant plant species evolved to cope with?", "what are the climatic conditions associated with changing levels of CO2 (and other greenhouse gases)?", and "what will the effects of that be on changing ecosystems?".
Plants today have evolved to cope with CO2 levels around those of preindustrial levels (roughly 280ppmv) although, with all else being equal, they can often cope with higher ones: the problem is keeping all else, such as temperature, light levels and water availability, equal - which is fine in a modern commercial greenhouse, but not for the rest of us. In the past, rapid changes in greenhouse gases, with the associated warming, have been associated with extinction events, which is what we are heading into now (one driven by several factors, of which climate disruption is one). Even the extintion event at the Paelocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (56 million years ago) is linked to a natural carbon pulse which occurred much more slowly than the one happening now.
Over the period of the growth of what passes for human "civilisation" the climate has been unusually stable, allowing more or less predictable conditions for farming (but even then regular localised famines have caused population movement and/or mass starvation). That is increasingly not the case.
That destabilised climate is also destabilising ecosystems, even now. It's one (of several) causes of the current extinction event.
From a Permie viewpoint this has two implications.
1) We are in a position to lock some of that carbon up in plants and soils. On its own, it won't be enough to stave off ecological disaster, but it is something we can influence.
2) The disrupted climate will most likely be warmer, wetter and with more extremes. This means we not only need to buffer our habitats against flooding and wind, but some places will become dryer (the Mediterranean, for example), and there will be some extreme cold snaps for reasons too long to go into here.
We are not in a position to be fooled by denier myths based on false equivalence.
it is part of the elements that make up the universe
where did all the CO2 come from?
it is a natural part of the oxidation (burning of carbon)
it has a lower energy state than the two separate elements
energy(heat, light) is given off in the reaction
where do hydrocarbons and carbohydrates come from?
hydrocarbons (hydrocarbon+carbon) and carbohydrates (hydrogen, carbon, oxygen)
are long chained molecules.. this reaction requires energy to assemble them
they are in a higher energy state
they can be thought of as "batteries"
storing energy until needed
how are hydrocarbons produced in nature
1. photosynthetic bacteria and plants produce hydrocarbons using CO2, water and sunlight
but the chicken and egg question:
where did the hydrocarbon that was used to build the first bacteria or such come from?
did the bacteria "bootstrap" itself, combining CO2, water, and sunlight to form itself into existence?
the chicken and outer space question?
hydrocarbons have been found in outer space on Moons and comets
are these proof of life in outer space?
In early 2008, the media said Cassini-Huygens, a joint NASA/European Space Agency/Italian Space Agency robotic spacecraft mission currently studying the planet Saturn and its moons, had discovered oil and gas deposits on Titan, Saturn's largest satellite, and that they exceeded terrestrial deposits by 100 times.
If hydrocarbons can form elsewhere without "life"
why do we need to propose it was life that created them here (fossil fuel)