From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : CO2 assessment
Mains level : Not Much
Carbon dioxide was always essential for our planet. This newscard discusses when did it become too much.
Try this question from CSP 2017:
Q. In the context of mitigating the impending global warming due to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, which of the following can be the potential sites for carbon sequestration?
- Abandoned and uneconomic coal seams
- Depleted oil and gas reservoirs
- Subterranean deep saline formations
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
GHGs in atmosphere
- The Earth’s atmosphere is made up of different gases. The temperature of the atmosphere depends on a balance between the incoming energy from the sun and the energy that bounces back into space.
- Greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide play an important role in the atmosphere.
- They absorb some of the sun’s heat and release it back in all directions, including back to the atmosphere.
- Through this process, CO2 and other GHGs keep the atmosphere warmer than it would be without them.
- However, fossil fuel-run industries and other human activities add GHGs to the atmosphere. This, in turn, increases atmospheric temperature, causing global warming.
Assessing the carbon level
- In 1958, American scientist Charles David Keeling calculated the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere.
- When he started his measurements in 1958, the CO2 levels were around 315 parts per million (PPM).
- When he died in 2005, the project was taken over by his son Ralph Keeling. By 2014, CO2 levels had increased to about 400 PPM.
- With his systematic study of atmospheric CO2, Keeling became the first person to alert the world about the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Reasons for rising CO2 levels
- Scientists first argued that the increasing release of methane and CO2 was due to agriculture and livestock.
- But, with the start of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the use of fossil fuels and CO2 levels rose simultaneously.
- Nations that underwent the Industrial Revolution used huge amounts of fossil fuels and became centres of high CO2 emissions, while nations with an agrarian economy emitted less GHGs.
- Over the years, as CO2 levels increased, it sparked off debates and arguments between the GHG-emitting rich industrial nations and the victims of global warming — the poorer nations.