Everyone has probably heard about the effects of CO2, also known as carbon dioxide. It is a gas that cars, boats, planes and buses produce which enhances global warming. However, humans and animals also produce this gas naturally. As we inhale oxygen, we exhale CO2. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with the gas CO2 itself. The problem is that we have produced such a big amount of CO2 due to human actions, that the amount of CO2 we find in the atmosphere is dangerous.
Over the years we have produced a lot of gas, oil and coal for the usage of our daily lives. With the production of those materials, CO2 emissions get into our clean air and cause an invisible layer around the earth. This layer keeps the heat inside the earth so to say, and that causes global warming. This process is also called the Greenhouse effect. The polar caps are melting and sea levels are rising, therefore it is time to make some changes in CO2 emissions.
Facts and figures
- Most of us have probably heard about the ice age and how it has passed. If it wasn’t for our production of CO2, we still would have an ice age. The average temperature would be -18 degrees Celsius, therefore nearly impossible for humans to live.
- Until the year 250, our planet was still green and out of danger for global warming. Shortly after that, the level of CO2 emission rose and started global warming.
- In just 250 years we have produced 40% more CO2 than ever before. This is mostly caused by keeping more livestock, cutting down forests and consuming fossil fuels like oil and gas.
- The highest level of CO2 emission found in the air is in 2018. The Global Carbon Project report that has been released, concludes that the Co2 emission has risen 2.7% more in comparing to the year before.
What happens during the Greenhouse effect?
The amount of CO2 that you can find now in the air causes the earth to heat up. This process is called the Greenhouse effect. It is similar to what happens in a greenhouse. Let’s say one is planting tomatoes in a greenhouse. To grow, tomatoes need sun and heat and those two things are difficult to find during the winter. Therefore, the greenhouse catches the heat and maintains it inside. Not all the radiation that falls inside is returned to the environment outside the greenhouse.
This is exactly what is happening with our planet today. Due to the layer of CO2 emission around our earth, the heat can’t reflect back and gets absorbed by the earth. While the sun is hitting the earth every day, it also gets warmer every day.
The effects of CO2 emission
The effects of CO2 (carbon) emissions is a well-debated topic, due to the fact that it is not completely clear what the actual effects are. Moreover, thanks to Donald Trump this topic became even more widely discussed due to his statement that there is no such thing as global warming. Luckily, a lot of research has been done worldwide to observe climate changes. One of those research companies is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that is founded in 1998 on behalf of the United Nations. Among others, they are convinced that polar caps are melting and that the sea level is rising due to global warming.
Global warming and other causes of CO2 emission
Apart from that, there are many more consequences including;
- New kind of climates will appear in various countries. New kind of temperature such as much colder or way hotter will arise. Also, the amount of rainfall will rise globally and extreme weather will occur more often.
- Desertification will arise and the fertile ground will be lost. This means that more dry areas will appear in countries where it is already very hot. This is for instance already happening with the driest desert on earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile. The desert is moving towards the capital, Santiago de Chile. This causes extreme dry periods and more air pollution.
- Also, Acidification will arise. This means that seawater will get more acid and eventually will affect the coral reefs and species that live there. Especially coral reefs already are having a difficult time and due to climate change, the extinction will have a negative effect on our environment. Coral reefs are home and food to many fishes. If they won’t be able to sustain themselves with coral, they will extinct. This will cause a complete shake-up in the natural circle of life.
- Due to climate changes, many animals will not be able to live in their natural environment. This will cause the distinction between many species.
Besides the effects mentioned above, there will be many more consequences of more CO2 emissions and will enhance further the Greenhouse effect. In which way and what size all depends on how we as humans continue to live and produce. The more the earth will warm up, the more consequences it will most likely have.
Other relevant gasses
Apart from CO2, there are many more gasses that enhance the Greenhouse effect and influence global warming. These include CH4, water vapor and nitrous oxide. Below a brief explanation of how these gasses get into the air;
- CH4: Also called Methane, is a gas that is produced mostly by animals. Due to the fact that over the years humans started to eat more meat, the level of CH4 has increased. Many animals like cows, goats and sheep produce methane while digesting. When they breathe, fart or poop Methane gets released into the air. Apart from Methane produced by animals, it also gets released when growing rice. Every kilo of methane that gets into our air is the equivalent of 28 kilos of Co2.
- Water vapor: Global warming causes the water in our seas, oceans, lakes and rivers to heat up. This hotter water produces hot air, that can develop into water vapor. Water vapor increases the Greenhouse effect because in increases the rise of global temperature.
- N2O: N2O is a natural gas that is better known as laughing gas. It is produced by the poop of animals or by fertilization by humans. The reason why it’s bad for the environment is that one kilo of laughing gas is the equivalent of 265 kilos of CO2. Therefore, it enhances the Greenhouse effect tremendously.
What can I do myself to prevent CO2-emissions?
There’s several good books out there like Drawdown from Paul Hawken that give ways to reduce carbon emissions ourselves. If you’d like to read more about it, we’ve written 6 tips to live more sustainable.
Another valuable and easy tip to reduce your CO2-emissions: install the TreeClick plugin in your browser. With this plugin you support the planting of trees with every online click and purchase. Living sustainably can be so easy. Do it immediately.