Global Carbon Budget
The issue of climate change of late has been in the news as it
has become a hot topic in local, national or international forums.
Scientific evidence gives us a chilling scenario of climate related
upheavals, should we persist in doing harm to our environment.
Understanding the global carbon budget is a good start, because
this will graph in detail how much carbon dioxide that can be
released to the atmosphere without altering the balance of the
Because of the excessive use of fossil fuels to feed our industries,
we have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases into the
atmosphere. Trying to figure out where carbon dioxide emissions
end up isn't so hard, especially since there are only three places
where that it can possibly go including the atmosphere, the oceans
and over land (plants and soil). As more carbon dioxide is fueled
into the atmosphere, how will this change the related carbon cycle
as the earth's temperature continues to rise?
The natural functions of the earth have been severely weakened
as oceans have turned acidic, reducing its capacity to absorb more
carbon dioxide. The reduced covering of forests likewise hinders
massive absorption of CO2 and the atmosphere is beset with dangerous
levels of greenhouse gasses, making the earth more receptive to
undue climatic change.
What is the world's carbon budget?
If our carbon dioxide emission could not be controlled, the earth's
ecosystem will initially suffer for it may not be able to adapt
to its rapidly changing environment. In order for our ecosystem
to survive, industrialized nations must reduce carbon dioxide emissions
from fossil fuel related combustion to 75-percent below current
levels before 2030.
Because of this grave threat, the G8 nations (the most fossil-fuel
intensive economies) from which the United States is a part of,
needs to find ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and put ourselves
and others on a budget.
An international convention is necessary to draw the carbon budget
on greenhouse gas emissions that preclude climatic change. The convention
should adhere to guidelines based on recent data that warming must
be limited to 0.1 degrees centigrade per decade. This may not seem
substantial but it is deemed 10 to 20 times greater than the average
rate of change that typifies transition from the ice age to warmer
Only with this proposed carbon budget can the ecosystem be sustained,
without risking death to mature trees. The last time the earth experienced
a climatic change that was 2 degrees centigrade warmer was 125,000
years ago, when humans were still hunters and gatherers and had
not yet learned the methods of agriculture.
Based on this constraint, the world must live within a carbon budget
of around 300 billion tons or 50 years of current carbon dioxide
emissions. Human activities account for about 60-percent of total
carbon dioxide emissions. To help curb further buildup of greenhouse
gases, emissions must also be reduced by 25-percent based on current
How can we allocate a carbon budget between nations?
Conformance to an allocated carbon budget is the key to our continued
survival. Thus, nations should agree, through proper diplomatic
ties, on doable carbon caps, particularly
between industrialized and developing countries. If these negotiations
push through, then a dramatic phase out is not necessary, because
the reduced emission process has started, without sacrificing
economic competitiveness. In fact, many jobs will be created in
helping nations adhere to their carbon budgets including jobs
in carbon sequestration, alternative fuels and alternative and
renewable energy industries.