Skip to main content
13 votes

Can anyone explain the reason why CO$_2$ increases global temperatures (not the simplistic greenhouse analogy provided for public consumption)?

Borrowing an explanation from one of my other answers, the basic mechanism of the greenhouse effect is roughly as follows (note this is also a simplified model) The Earth is in (to all intents and ...
Dikran Marsupial's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

Is it possible that a reduction in vegetation is a cause of global warming?

The short answer is that people do talk about it. It is commonly referred to as "land use change". In general, the carbon dioxide equivalent of the effects of land-use change is on the order of 10% ...
f.thorpe's user avatar
  • 13.7k
11 votes
Accepted

Which percentage of $\text{CO}_2$ emissions are human made emissions?

First of all, the amount of carbon cycling trough the Earth's system is irrelevant to the discussion of the changes in atmospheric $\text{CO}_2$ concentration or ocean acidification. In the same way ...
Camilo Rada's user avatar
  • 17.7k
10 votes
Accepted

Did climate cool down when underground hydrocarbons stocks formed?

Possibly One thing you have to understand is that natural carbon sequestration via the formation of fossil fuel is VERY slow, it can take millions of years to build up the coal we burn in a day. In ...
John's user avatar
  • 6,966
10 votes

How many trees would I have to plant to solve Global Warming?

This question is from 2014 with answers from 2015. Just to add the point of view of some research that has been done since. In essence, new calculations show that NCS (natural climate solutions: a ...
Gimelist's user avatar
  • 23.1k
8 votes

Why did the carboniferous period have so much atmospheric oxygen?

The Carboniferous was when the growth of woody plants took off. Non-plant life had not yet evolved the ability to consume lignins, the key chemical components that makes woody plants "woody". Lignins ...
David Hammen's user avatar
  • 23.7k
7 votes

Is $\ce{CO_2}$ in photosynthesis the only way for carbon to become organic?

The answer is no. One important mechanism that also fixes carbon is chemosynthesis. One good example of this production is around hydrothermal vents in the bottom of the ocean. Chemosynthesis is the ...
arkaia's user avatar
  • 15.5k
6 votes

Why cannot people burn all the atmospheric oxygen?

Photosynthesis has not stopped. It happens all the time, splitting water and carbon dioxide, and producing oxygen and carbohydrates. Likewise, organic matter rots and decomposes all the time, ...
Wolfgang Bangerth's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

What is the relevance of Arctic coastal erosion to the Earth's climate?

If we consider only the climatic impacts of Arctic coastal erosion, there are still two sides of the question of how relevant is Arctic coastal erosion of permafrost. The first side is how big is its ...
Camilo Rada's user avatar
  • 17.7k
6 votes
Accepted

Why did the carboniferous period have so much atmospheric oxygen?

To complement @DavidHammen answer and address the point "where did so much oxygen come from?" I will elaborate on David's final remark The end result was a gradual increase in oxygen levels The ...
Camilo Rada's user avatar
  • 17.7k
6 votes
Accepted

Why doesn't Earth absorb our carbon emissions?

That assumption is indeed logical and correct, and increased plant growth is in fact happening (this effect is known as $\ce{CO2}$ fertilization). As you suggests, Earth will adapt to the increased ...
Camilo Rada's user avatar
  • 17.7k
5 votes
Accepted

Carbon's role in ocean acidification

In answering this complex question, I think it's important to consider the form of carbon that is utilized and the overall reactions involved (warning: somewhat lengthy diversion ahead, and advance ...
Rolf's user avatar
  • 76
5 votes

What caused the Carbon Dioxide Variations observed in the 800,000-year polar ice record?

Six plus years after the fact, I find the accepted answer to be a bit insufficient. With that, but what specifically caused the CO2 to fluctuate? Notice in the two graphs how the temperature drop ...
David Hammen's user avatar
  • 23.7k
5 votes
Accepted

Does organic decay release the same CO2 as burning?

I can't quantify the answer, but intuitively, nearly all of a burning tree's carbon is converted to $\small\mathsf{CO_2}$ - assuming the fire is hot enough. You are correct in assuming that termites ...
Gordon Stanger's user avatar
5 votes

If planting trees is ineffective to tackle climate change, why do people plant them?

Timber, shade, nuts, fruits, animal habitat, flowers, landscaping, erosion control, poles for electric power distribution, syrup, spices,coffee, and other things unrelated to global warming.
blacksmith37's user avatar
  • 1,043
4 votes

Why cannot people burn all the atmospheric oxygen?

If I understand it right, you are assuming that in the beginning we had CO2, which was then split to organic carbon and O2 via photosynthesis. And now you are asking if it's possible to reverse all of ...
Gimelist's user avatar
  • 23.1k
4 votes

If planting trees is ineffective to tackle climate change, why do people plant them?

Planting trees has a short term benefit in carbon sequestration but will not offset the carbon from fossil fuel burning. However, in some places trees provide a benefit of increasing soil carbon which ...
haresfur's user avatar
  • 4,419
4 votes

The effect of CO2 concentration on the pH of the ocean

Increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is leading to an increasing concentration of dissolved CO2 in sea-water. The dissolved CO2 then reacts with the water to create carbonic acid, decreasing ...
M Juckes's user avatar
  • 772
3 votes

Can reforestation sequester our annual carbon emissions?

Reforestation is a one-off gain in carbon storage. Once a forest is fully mature, the carbon cycles back into the atmosphere as trees die and decay or are burned. So no, this will not sequester all ...
haresfur's user avatar
  • 4,419
3 votes

How much net carbon can coral sequester?

Corals usually grow 1cm every year, some as slow as 2mm, some faster. Coral sand density is about 1.5g /cm2, it's not the best estimate of coral weight. So, a coral organism of 10cm^2 produces 150 ...
bandybabboon's user avatar
  • 1,349
3 votes

Polar Ice caps are melting? Questions on enviromental impact

I think you misinterpret the article you cited. In the article it is stated that: The melting of the polar ice-caps has an effect "the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO$_2$ being ...
S Verhoef's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

Will photosynthesis based carbon sequestration always be more efficient than other chemical means - in terms of rate?

Rate.. no. Brute Force We can treat this as an industrial chemistry question. The brute-force method for carbon sequesteration is simply: Extract CO2 from the air (using the acid/base chemistry, ...
Andrew Jon Dodds's user avatar
3 votes

Does organic decay release the same CO2 as burning?

The key word in your query is the word "essentially". Termites and bacteria die too. So whatever carbon was initially converted from the tree into termites or bacteria ends up mostly going to $\small\...
MaxW's user avatar
  • 511
3 votes
Accepted

Estimating the residence time of atmospheric CO2 from bomb 14C

Judging by the general quality of the first graph, I don't think that it is the most reliable source. However as I don't feel like reading trough all papers, I will accept the numbers as they are ...
Avelina's user avatar
  • 46
3 votes

Did climate cool down when underground hydrocarbons stocks formed?

The carboniferous period was 350-270 million years ago. The content of CO2 at that time was close to 3000 ppm, but this fell to 200-300 ppm by the end of this period. The average temperature of ...
trond hansen's user avatar
  • 1,888
3 votes

Does organic decay release the same CO2 as burning?

When a forest is used for sustainable fuel, there is a range of age classes in the forest, some old, some middle aged and so on. Wood harvest takes the oldest trees leaving young trees to take their ...
Thomas Young's user avatar
3 votes

Is "Carbon Neutral" (roughly) 5 Gt CO₂ equivalent?

As Camilo mentioned in the comments, “carbon neutral” in this context means zero net carbon emissions. This is the gross anthropogenic carbon emissions (fossil fuel burning and land use change) minus ...
Deditos's user avatar
  • 3,950
3 votes

Net fluxes of carbon caused by humans

There are various charts but not exactly what you want. This one combines burning, industry and cement but shows land sources and sinks separately: CarbonBrief, Le Quéré, C. et al. (2016)
Keith McClary's user avatar
3 votes

If planting trees is ineffective to tackle climate change, why do people plant them?

Because the first few decades are crucial, so we are pragmatically buying time until we manage the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources. I heard a podcast announcing Ted's initiative ...
mirekphd's user avatar
  • 131

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible