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Carbon Sinks

The oceans, forests and soil are natural carbon sinks. Carbon sinks absorb carbon dioxide to thereby reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and delay the sordid effects of global warming.

Carbon Sinks

Carbon sinks tend to absorb a substantial volume of carbon dioxide while releasing a minimal amount. This is contrary to carbon dioxide sources, such as industry, that absorb little of the compound while releasing a huge volume. We are on the threshold of tiptoeing on a very delicate balance. If we continue to emit 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, climate change and global warming is inevitable.

One sure solution to combat climatic change is by increasing our forest cover. Plants and trees in the process of photosynthesis absorb much carbon dioxide in the air and release oxygen and moisture in return.

A single tree absorbs tons of carbon dioxide in its 30-year life cycle. Pertinent studies indicate that positive plant growth can be achieved if there is sufficient rainfall, because water speeds-up photosynthesis. And, in areas experiencing heavy rainfall, massive reforestation should be encouraged while banning deforestation.

The ocean is a natural carbon sink because it absorbs most of the carbon dioxide in the air, but in the process also emits a minimal amount of carbon dioxide. It was observed that only the upper part of our oceans have high concentrations of carbon dioxide while the depths have none, denying a living space for sea creatures. This makes ocean depths an ideal storage for captured carbon dioxide sequestered from power plants and other sources.

Since the beginning of time, soil has been the repository of carbon, though massive concentration has been in depths below the surface. Man has invested in oil wells to pump this reserve out to fuel our industries and transport modes.

In the wake of this development, the incessant burn of fossil fuels contributed much to the build up of massive gases into the atmosphere. Before the advent of industrialization, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was a mere 280 PPM. Recent findings indicate a 30-percent rise in concentration.

Global effort was not only focused over the concept of reducing carbon dioxide emission levels but also on the merits of carbon sequestration, as manifested by the many research and development programs to this effect.

As technology to capture carbon dioxide becomes efficient and cheaper, the problem on storage of excess carbon dioxide comes into focus. Not all sequestered carbon dioxide will be recycled and used by industries. Much will be dumped probably in appropriate storage facilities.

Those akin to this type of puzzle have selected the ocean carbon sink as a possible option, since only the upper surface has concentrations of carbon dioxide. Excess carbon dioxide will then be injected into the depths, because carbon dioxide liquefies when mixed with water. Will this alternative pollute our oceans? Not at all. On the contrary, scientists believe it will encourage growth of microorganisms to benefit healthier oceans.

Another possible destination for excess carbon dioxide is the soil. Carbon dioxide can be injected into the sand and dirt and be absorbed. The only problem for this proposed disposal method is that carbon tends to evaporate during hot and humid weather, thereby defeating the purpose of a thorough storage system. Carbon dioxide pumped into oil wells also make oil easier to extract and some believe this is the perfect location for sequestering carbon dioxide.

Because of the industrialize activities of man, nature's own carbon sinks aren't operating optimally. Man will need to help out nature in this regard by either inventing new carbon sinks or else reducing the amount of carbon so that the present sinks can handle the volume.

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