49 votes
Accepted

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

In 2010 anthropogenic emissions (not including land use change) were approximately 9167 million metric tonnes. Your data on trees holding 13 lbs (5.9 kg) of carbon per year equates to 169.6 trees per ...
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16 votes

Why do we recycle paper?

Wouldn't a more beneficial method of disposing of such waste be to find a method of isolating them from the effects of weathering and keeping the carbon they contain locked up as long as possible? ...
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  • 20.5k
16 votes
Accepted

How did plants adapt to $\small\sf{CO_2}$ levels past 400k years? Why won't they do it again?

I'm not sure where and why has all CO2 gone every 100.000 years and out of where has CO2 come? The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere for the last 400000 years is very strongly correlated with ...
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  • 20.5k
14 votes

To stop anthropogenic climate change, is it necessary to stop extracting petroleum and start pumping carbon under ground?

Summary Most of the remaining stocks of hydrocarbons (coal, natural gas, oil) will have to remain unburnt. In almost all cases, that will mean leaving them in the ground. We already have proven ...
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  • 4,090
12 votes
Accepted

How is carbon distributed among the atmosphere, the oceans, the biomass and the unburnt fossil fuels?

1.How much carbon is there on Earth? Taken as whole, the Earth is estimated to be 730 parts per million carbon by mass. So $4.4 \times 10^{21} kg$ http://quake.mit.edu/hilstgroup/CoreMantle/...
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  • 5,912
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% ...
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  • 12.7k
12 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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 17.1k
10 votes

To stop anthropogenic climate change, is it necessary to stop extracting petroleum and start pumping carbon under ground?

No, we do not need to stop extracting petroleum, we need to stop burning petroleum, as well as other fossil fuels, because combustion converts solid C to gaseous C, and hence goes up to the atmosphere,...
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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 ...
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  • 22.2k
10 votes
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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 ...
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  • 6,558
8 votes
Accepted

Why do we recycle paper?

My understanding is that the fossil fuels we use for energy were generated during the Carboniferous period by burying carbon rich plant matter in anoxic swamps. If we are causing climate change by ...
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  • 5,727
8 votes

How will increased $\ce{CO2}$ affect forests and other vegetative areas?

If you increase CO2 concentration and keep all other parameters at there current level, then biomass production should go up. The reason is simply that CO2 is one of the building blocks biomass is ...
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  • 529
8 votes

Why has CO2 decreased in the history of the Earth?

The short answer is that most of the Earth's original allotment of CO2 got locked up in various carbonate minerals, largely calcite (limestone, marble, and chalk). According to this article there is ...
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  • 2,137
7 votes
Accepted

What is the evidence it is feasible to reverse ocean acidification by adding large quantities of a base (bicarb soda)?

Instead of using sodium bicarbonate why not use limestone instead? Limestone is already used on an industrial scale to neutralise acids and acidic solutions. Also, sodium bicarbonate needs to be ...
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  • 21.8k
7 votes

What is the difference between a carbon sink and a carbon reservoir?

The difference is that a carbon sink accumulates carbon, whereas a carbon reservoir has accumulated carbon. That is to say: A carbon sink is an ongoing process which is increasing the amount of ...
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  • 4,090
7 votes
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How will increased $\ce{CO2}$ affect forests and other vegetative areas?

One of the consequences that I find more fascinating with the increased CO2 problem is the changes that affect specific components of the environment. One example that I like is the effect on poison ...
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  • 14.7k
7 votes

Does vegetation contribute to long-term carbon sequestration?

An important role of vegetation in carbon sequestration is related to what happens belowground. Plant roots comprise a signficant portion of vegetative biomass and remain in the soil even when a plant ...
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7 votes

Does the heating of the oceans due to greenhouse effect negate the acidification due to increased CO2 levels?

This is a very complex issue, and therefore I'm not entirely convinced I am qualified to answer that, considering how little I understand chemistry, but I'll give it a try. The Flux of CO2 can be ...
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  • 5,278
7 votes

Are all natural diamonds made of organic carbon material?

Diamond isn't made of organic C at all. Organic matter would rather become oil, gas, coal or dissolve entirely. C itself isn't very common in earth's mantle, but subducted eclogites and peridotites ...
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7 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 ...
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  • 20.5k
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, ...
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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 ...
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  • 17.1k
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 ...
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  • 17.1k
5 votes

Why do we recycle paper?

This question (and my answer) borders on opinion but is a good example of the interface between the science and policy. Forests and tree plantations are a sink for carbon but that sink is a one-off ...
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  • 4,319
5 votes

How will increased $\ce{CO2}$ affect forests and other vegetative areas?

CO2 can only enhance plant growth when other resources such as nutrients or water are not limiting growth. If N for instance is scarce, no matter how much you increase CO2, plants will not take ...
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5 votes

Are all natural diamonds made of organic carbon material?

Not so fast, we can't say that 'no diamond is made of organic carbon'. There are two types of diamond, based upon the relative abundance of $^{12}C$ and $^{13}C$ isotopes. The 'lighter' carbon (...
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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 ...
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5 votes
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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 ...
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  • 76
5 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 ...
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