What is Carbon Absorption?
Carbon absorption, or carbon sequestration, is the capture and storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. This process occurs naturally through photosynthesis in plants and algae, which absorb CO2 from the air and convert it into organic matter. In addition to photosynthesis, carbon absorption can also be enhanced through human activities such as afforestation (planting new forests), reforestation (restoring degraded forests), and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies that capture CO2 emissions from power plants and other industrial sources and store them underground.
Carbon absorption plays an important role in mitigating climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that contribute to global warming.
Carbon and Climate Change
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases trap heat from the sun that would otherwise radiate back into space, leading to a gradual warming of the Earth’s surface and oceans. This causes changes in precipitation patterns, more frequent extreme weather events such as hurricanes and droughts, sea level rise, ocean acidification and impacts on ecosystems.
Carbon Dioxide and Human Health
In addition to climate change, large amounts of CO2 are harmful to human health. Major effects of too much CO2 exposure include:
- Breathing difficulty,
- Excess sweating,
- Loss of concentration
- High blood pressure,
- Coma, etc.
Where Can Carbon Be Stored?
- Carbon stores in rock formations and sediments. Other places where carbon stores include living organisms, oceans, and our atmosphere.
- Carbon stores in ‘sinks’ which fast-track carbon cycles.
What is a Carbon Sink?
- A carbon sink is something that releases less carbon into our atmosphere than it absorbs. Examples of carbon sinks include plants, soil, and the ocean.
- In contrast, carbon sources absorb less carbon into the atmosphere than it releases. Volcanic eruptions and burning fossil fuels are examples of carbon sources.
- Rocks are not considered a carbon sink as they no longer take in more carbon.
Carbon in the Soil
Soils contain more carbon than the atmosphere and vegetation combined, making them an important component of the global carbon cycle. Soil carbon is present in organic and inorganic forms. These types of carbon form during photosynthesis and are passed to animals in plant tissue. Dead plants also return carbon to the soil when they decompose.
Types of carbon in the soil include:
- Decaying plants
- Soil microbes and organisms
- Resins, and organic acids
- Lignins, and
- Calcium carbonate
Glaciers & Global Warming
- Ice glaciers reserve water and stay frozen, even in summer. However, the earth’s glaciers are under serious threat from global warming.
- Heat from the atmosphere causes glaciers to melt. Recently, the heating of our atmosphere has increased because of global warming.
What is Carbon Banking?
- A carbon bank is an institution that deals with sequestrated carbon like regular banks treat capital.
- These banks support companies who want to reduce the release of harmful gases into the atmosphere.
- Forest owners are major beneficiaries of carbon banking and can access funding from these institutions.
The Global Warming Solution
Solving global warming is a collective task. The world can solve global warming by reducing CO2 emissions.
CO2 and other gases trap heat in the atmosphere and cause global warming.
Major solutions to global warming include:
Saving energy at home
- Much energy at home comes from coal, gas, and oil sources. Use lesser energy for cooling and heating.
- Use LED lights and energy-saving appliances.
- Do laundry with tap water and hang clothes to dry instead of using cloth dryers.
Eating more vegetables
- Eat less meat and dairy to reduce the impact of your feeding on our environment. Consume more fruits, grains, nuts/seeds, whole grains, and legumes.
- Produce plant-based foods to reduce the release of harmful gases. Making plant-based foods also helps save more energy.
- Cook your meals in sizeable portions to avoid waste. Also, wasted food forms methane, a harmful gas to our environment.
- Compost leftovers whenever you have to, but store foods for later if possible.
Using electric vehicles
- Electric vehicles are becoming cheaper and don’t rely on fossil fuels to work.
- Using electric cars reduce the use of fossil fuels, unlike diesel or petrol vehicles.
Increased reuse of items
- Consider buying fewer electronics, clothing, and other items. Producing these items release harmful gases into the atmosphere at several stages.
- Buy second-hand items if you can repair faulty items where possible, and always recycle.
Switching energy sources at home
- Request energy from wind or solar sources from your utility company.
- Install solar panels on your property to reduce the dependence on oil, gas, or coal energy.
Changes in transport choices
- Road transport contributes to the release of harmful gases. Consider taking a walk to reduce your dependence on gas-powered vehicles. Also, riding a bike is another way to reduce carbon emissions from gas vehicles.
- Whenever you can’t use a bike or walk, carpool or take public transport.
- Air travel releases many harmful gases into the atmosphere. Take fewer flights or use the train if you can.
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