Finding a solution for high CO2 levels

A current environmental issue that is facing us today is how to control the rising levels of CO2 in the environment. CO2 levels have been increasing at a record rate, with the levels raising to 400.83ppm in 2015. This was an increase of 3.03ppm from the previous year, making it the first year that CO2 raised by more than 3ppm. Now, as of yesterday, the current CO2 levels are 405.19ppm. There is clearly a need to be concerned about the future of CO2 levels and a need to determine ways to slow their rising levels and begin to decrease the levels over time.

One idea that has been considered by scientists comes from the knowledge that trees consume CO2 in order to grow and, in turn, remove some CO2 from the environment. Additionally, they emit much-needed oxygen into the environment. In order to test the theory that trees may suck up CO2 and make strides in cleaning the atmosphere, scientists created a model environment that aimed to replicate the high CO2 levels that are inevitable in our future. They sprayed 2 tons of pure carbon dioxide into the canopies of trees in a 500 square meter plot every day for 6 months. This created an atmosphere with about 530 ppm of CO2, which is about 150% of what exists today.

Unfortunately, their experiment did not yield the results they had hoped for. The CO2 did not enhance the growth of the trees and leaves, rather the CO2 quickly passed through the bodies of the trees and quickly returned to the atmosphere. There was no decline in CO2 in the atmosphere and the extra CO2 did nothing to help with the photosynthesis of the trees or their oxygen emissions. Unfortunately, this demonstrates a need for more research to be done as to how to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.

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4 thoughts on “Finding a solution for high CO2 levels

  1. The results of this study are very important because I think this is a common misconception of tree growth and deforestation. The fact that there was really no difference in the CO2 sequestration in the model environment shows that we need to introduce new ideas and new environmental practices that will somehow do the job. With today’s technological advancements one can only hope that there will be breakthrough of some sort in which we can figure out a way to capture the excess CO2. Great post Sam, really got me thinking!

  2. This post highlights a key issue within our society. Though ending deforestation is a start, there is more to saving our environment than keeping up with our tree population. The study you elaborated on gave a scientific and numerical basis for this theory. Proving that trees will not help us contain our CO2 emissions, your post brings focus to more innovative and mathematically sound solutions to our carbon footprint. Given that this particular study did not yield the hoped result, it is concerning to think that we might destroy ourselves and our planet before we find the right way to decrease our carbon emissions.

  3. You did a great job of highlighting how the process of deforestation has the potential to be detrimental when trying to accomplish the goal of reducing CO2 emissions. In addition, the study you cited is incredibly interesting because it exemplifies a potential flaw within the logic of curbing carbon emissions through promoting tree growth, rather than taking steps towards tackling the source of the problem.
    The one thing that I would point out however, is the considerable variability not only amongst trees, but plant life as well. If one study is conducted on one specific kind of tree, in one specific kind of the world, and with a specific climate, the probability for significant variation when conducting these tests on entirely different species of trees becomes much more probable.

  4. It’s great that research like this is occurring in hopes of measuring the Carbon Dioxide threshold of trees. This makes me wonder more about mulch, which I know seems like a weird thing to have an opinion on, but in the EU they don’t use mulch, but instead plant more plants in that place, and on top of that don’t waste the resource of trees to cover dirt for aesthetics. What do you think?

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