Thursday, March 12, 2009

Carbon Sinks

Scientists hope satellites will solve riddle of missing CO2

Even golf courses and suburban lawns serve as carbon sinks.

"Humans dump about 9 million tons of carbon daily into the atmosphere, but only half stays there,'' said David Crisp, principal investigator for NASA's Orbiting Carbon
Observatory. The rest is returned to Earth, but where much of it ends up is uncertain. About a quarter of the recycled CO2 is drawn into the ocean, and land vegetation absorbs another quarter.

"We don't know where the other half is going,''

Here is another half of the science we never hear about in the global warming debate. Plants and other photosynthetic organisms 'breath' Co2 in the chemical process which is the mirror image of combustion and animal respiration. Combustion in cars and power plants consumes O2 and hydrocarbons (fossil fuels) to produce heat, energy and CO2; likewise, animals breath O2 and burn hydrocarbons (sugars) to produce energy to power their bodies and exhale CO2.

Photosynthesis is the reverse reaction. During daylight hours, plants consume CO2 and absorb energy from sunlight to produce sugars and give off O2 as a waste product. The ecosystem has the built in capability to self regulate. "Well," say global warming enthusiasts, "the earth has never seen the kind of carbon output we humans produce." Wrong. This is narcissism wrapped in bacon; a volcano and other natural events can easily dwarf human output. The self regulatory capacity has existed since the dawn of life, long before us humans were even here.

Even if we concede that CO2 driven global warming is a danger (a claim which growing numbers of people are beginning to doubt) then why are the solutions always focused on "capping" CO2 output and hammering our industry and economy in the process? We might make more progress, and avoid crippling our economy, if we focused on enhancing our 'carbon sink' capacity.

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