Carbon dioxide refers to a chemical compound that occurs naturally and which is made up of two atoms of oxygen that are covalently bonded to one carbon atom, thus its chemical formula CO2. At standard pressure and temperature, carbon dioxide exists as a gas whose concentration level in the air is 0.039% by volume. Today, CO2 is regarded as one of the most significant compounds in life, whose classification among the greenhouse gases has made it a topic of constant debate. However, even though the health effects associated with this compound are immense to human health, its general benefits to the modern life are innumerable. In this respect, as we raise concerns on the adverse effects of carbon dioxide, we should also try to see the benefits associated with the compound. This essay offers an in-depth overview of carbon dioxide where some key areas of concern such as its emission, capture and storage have been highlighted.
The emission of carbon dioxide occurs in a number of ways. In most cases, the gas is produced naturally through various human activities and also through the carbon cycle. One major human-inflicted cause which has continued to produce high levels of the compound is the burning of fossil fuels in automobiles, machines and industries. The progressive combustion of fuels such as oil, coal, LPG, natural gases and bio energy for human needs has led to high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Combustion of these organic materials oxidizes the carbon contained within their structure, thus producing CO2. Ever since the era of industrial revolution way back in the eighteenth century, human activities such as burning of fuels and deforestation have contributed to increased concentrations of this natural compound in the atmosphere. The dawn of the industrial revolution was characterized by a rapid growth of human populations in various parts of the world as well as increased application of modern manufacturing and transportation machines, thus leading to emission of high levels CO2 into the environment. This clearly explains the significant role played by human activities as far as the production of carbon dioxide is concerned.
Carbon dioxide is also emitted naturally through the carbon cycle. Here, uncountable tons of the compound would be extracted from the atmosphere by plants and the oceans only to be released back into the atmosphere in an annual basis, through a number of natural processes referred to as sources. According to scientists, carbon atoms normally rotate in these processes in a continuous series and that’s how the compound moves through our natural world. The carbon cycle, initially discovered by Antoine Lavoisier in collaboration with Joseph Priestley, is the biogeochemical cycle through which the compound (CO2) is exchanged among various zones of the earth. The process allows for the gas to be recycled and reused through out the zones which include: biosphere, geosphere, pedosphere, hydrosphere, and the earth’s atmosphere. It is indeed for these specific reasons why many would view CO2 as the most significant cycle of the earth.
Another common way through which emission of carbon dioxide takes place is by the normal respiration of living things whereby organic molecules would be broken down into water and CO2 through the exothermic reaction. The decay of plant and animal matter has been another contributing factor to the high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. The carbon compounds in plants and animal remains are broken down by microorganisms into carbon dioxide in the presence of oxygen. Metamorphism and volcanic eruptions are other significant sources constituting to emission of carbon into the atmosphere. Volcanic gases for instance, are normally carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and water vapor. Another significant way of CO2 emission is through the byproducts of industrial processes. Carbon for commercial use such as carbonation of soft drinks and manufacture of lasers is usually acquired in this way. The progressive emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through these numerous ways has contributed to adverse effects for instance, the current global warming issue which poses a great risk to the global human populations3. High levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are likely to dissolve in our oceans thus making sea water more acidic and this poses great danger to the aquatic life.
The issue of increased carbon concentrations in the atmosphere as a result of human activities has called for serious concerns on the matter thus castigating a number of positive responses from various parts of the world4. This has seen the development of technologies that are capable of reducing the concentration of CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Some of these methods would include ‘Carbon Capture and Storage’ and ‘fuel-cell concentrator.’ CCS is a form of modern technology which attempts to prevent high quantities of carbon dioxide from being released into the earth’s atmosphere as a result of the adverse usage of fossil fuels by the humans. This three-stage technology would be based on capturing carbon from large point emissions and holding it in such a manner that it does not escape into the atmosphere. Considering the imminent effects of high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is a need for people all over the globe to embrace this lower-carbon technology whose effectively has already been proved in some countries such as the UK. According to analysts, a world scale of this plan is likely to cost an estimated value of about 2% of the worldwide Domestic product for a year of normal growth, which is fairly affordable.
Another effective method that can be applied to reduce atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is by the use of a fuel-cell concentrator. This is another modern technology that uses hydrogen gas as the main source of energy and which is based on absorbing carbon dioxide from a source of low concentration such as the earth’s atmosphere and outputting it at a higher concentration. The concentrated carbon dioxide can either be sequestered or it can be combined with the available hydrogen to produce the liquid fuel. Application of this technology in industrial levels can be another promising approach to reduce atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide among other gases which have contributed to changes in global weather patterns witnessed in our world presently. Just like the method of carbon capture and storage, this concept proves to be less costly in all terms. These are some of the concepts that needs to be incorporated in the modern world to take care of the adverse concentrations of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere and this would help at reducing the adverse effects of the gases to the global human population.
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