How Carbon and Carbohydrate Affect Global Warming

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Updated: May 02, 2022
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Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide. It is a proposed solution to slow down the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. There are several ways to capture carbon dioxide including removing carbon dioxide from the air and putting it in a reservoir, removing carbon dioxide from power stations before it is released and storing it in reservoirs or naturally moving carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and reservoirs (Carbon).

Chemical weathering is a way to capture carbon dioxide. It occurs when rainwater reacts with mineral grains in rocks to form new minerals and salts. It is a familiar process to us all. It is the reaction between compounds in the atmosphere and compounds on the surface. For example, when your car’s exhaust pipe falls apart noisily, it is because the steel which was used to construct it is several years old and has reacted with oxygen and rainwater to form rust. It has weathered. But, this example happens relatively quickly. The minerals on Earth’s surface react very slowly. Therefore, chemical weathering can take up to millions of years.

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Carbon dioxide dissolves in droplets of water in the clouds. This process is called carbon-sink. When carbon dioxide dissolves in water, it forms carbonic acid.

Figure 1. Carbonic acid breaking down (Understanding).

The two ions are a bicarbonate and a hydrogen ion. The number of hydrogen ions in a solution determines its acidity. Therefore, the more hydrogen ions in a solution, the more acidic it is and the better it is at dissolving compounds. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14. 7 is a neutral value which means pure water. Values more than 7 are alkaline and values less than 7 are acidic.

Carbonic acid is a weak acid. It has a pH of around 5 to 5.5. However, there are lots of it in the environment. This means that over long periods of time, it does a lot of weathering. However, other acids can be present in the rain. For example, sulphur dioxide, released by burning fossil fuels or volcanic eruptions. It dissolves in water to produce sulphuric acid, this is why there’s ‘acid rain.’ ‘Acid rain’ has a pH of around 4 to 4.5. ‘Acid rain’ is better for weathering since reactions particularly occur when the water is slightly acidic (Understanding).

Chemical weathering needs a lot of rainwater. This means it occurs more highly in areas with higher temperatures with warm and damp climates (Geological). However, this means that in more dryer areas or areas that don’t receive as much rain, chemical weathering will not occur as often.

A team of Florida State University scientists discovered that chemical weathering could happen much faster than expected. Scientists thought that it would take millions of years for chemical weathering to start cooling the earth. Instead, scientists suggest that it could take only several tens of thousands of years. According to Theodore Them, the lead researcher on the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at Florida State and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, “Increased chemical weathering is one of Earth’s natural responses to carbon dioxide increases. The good news is that this process can help balance the effects of fossil fuel combustion, deforestation and agricultural practices. The bad news is that it will not begin to counteract the excessive amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide that humans are emitting for at least several thousand years.” As carbon dioxide concentrations increase, the climate gets warmer. As said above, since chemical weathering works better in warmer climates, this will consume carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reverse the greenhouse gas effect leading to climate cooling.

However, the increase in chemical weathering also has consequences. Scientists predict that due to global warming, climate and weather patterns will change. This will create more precipitation and the amount of water and nutrients coastal regions receive. This will increase both the size and duration of future coastal deoxygenation which will impact the sea areas around those regions in a negative way (Chemical).

In the end, chemical weathering is a way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, I don’t think it will solve global warming. Since it will take thousands of years to remove human levels of carbon dioxide, this is too long. According to experts, we only have until 2020 to get climate change under control (Guterres). Therefore, we need to find another way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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How carbon and carbohydrate affect global warming. (2022, May 02). Retrieved from