Carbon dioxide: essential on the one hand, harmful on the other

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What is carbon dioxide?

Also known as carbon dioxide,  “carbon dioxide (CO 2 ), is a chemical gas and one of the gases that can unbalance the greenhouse effect. It is still difficult to detect because it has no smell or taste. Essential to life on the planet as being one of the main compounds for photosynthesis , carbon is found in the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. On the other hand, several organisms release CO 2  into the atmosphere through the breathing process, including plants and trees (known as CO 2 compensators ) that, in hot and dry conditions, close their pores to prevent water loss and Change to the nocturnal breathing process, called photorespiration, that is,

However, the concern is not the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but the high concentration it is because it is the greenhouse gas that, according to certain scientific lines, contributes more to global warming.

Sources and uses

  • Respiration of animals, humans and living organisms;
  • Decomposition of living and material beings;
  • Volcanic eruptions;
  • Human activity (mainly industries);
  • Burning of fossil fuels (coal, gas, power plant, oil, vehicles);
  • Deforestation and burning;
  • Washing of cellulose pulp and paper.

CO 2  is also widely used in cement production, electricity generation, in fire extinguishers, to cool ice-dry devices and to effervesce refrigerants and gaseous water.

Excess in the atmosphere

The industrial and transportation sectors are the main vectors of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (learn more here ). In addition, changes in land use (deforestation and burning) affect stocks and natural carbon reservoirs and simultaneously the sumidou ros (ecosystems with the capacity to absorb CO 2 ) and carbon sequestration. The high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere began in the late eighteenth century when the industrial revolution took place, which required the use of large quantities of coal and oil as sources of energy. Since then, the average CO 2 concentration  has been increasing and may exceed 400 ppm


High concentration of carbon dioxide leads to air pollution, acid rain, possible imbalance of the greenhouse effect with a consequent rise in the Earth’s temperature, together with the melting of ice caps and elevation of ocean levels, resulting in a great environmental degradation of ecosystems and Landscapes.

According to the study , the human coexistence with pollution implies effects on health, such as clinical changes in the population, that is, the onset of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, especially in the elderly, children and people with respiratory problems. Among the symptoms and consequences have increased the incidence of asthma and bronchitis, increased asthma attacks and chest pain, functional limitation, increased use of medications, increased number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and great Economy with spending on public health. The  Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development  (OECD) estimated that people in its  34 member countries would be willing to pay $ 1,

Alternatives to control

In the case of CO 2, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere is the main solution, whether natural or artificial. Current carbon capture techniques either reproduce or aim to reinforce natural forms. The artificial forms are reforestation,  capture by means of electrolysis and geological sequestration of carbon, which aims to return the compressed carbon to the subsoil by means of injection into a geological reservoir. And incredible as it may seem, hedgehogs also play an important role in capturing CO 2.

On the other hand, to reduce emissions, it is possible to favour renewable sources of energy, which replace more polluting fuels, such as coal, by less harmful ones such as natural gas. The adoption of stricter government policies on control, air quality standards and emissions is also essential, as well as prefer public transport and if you buy a car, choose vehicles that emit less CO 2  (see here some suggested steps to The city of New York).

In addition, the technology seeks to always look for innovations, which are still being tested but are promising, such as the technique that transforms CO 2  into concrete, or the building block that consumes CO 2 in its production and the production of bio-  coal.

One way to offset emissions is the carbon credit market. In it, a ton of carbon dioxide corresponds to a carbon credit. Companies that can reduce the emission of gaseous pollutants obtain these credits, being able to sell them in the national and international financial markets. Companies that manage to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases profit from the sale of these carbon credits. Countries that issue more buy credits in the carbon market. However, this is also a questionable practice because the problem is not solved by polluting companies just by buying credits – they need to reduce the level of emissions.

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