Defining Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide - or
CO₂, the chemical formula - is a colourless and odorless gas found naturally in air and often used in day-to-day products such as carbonated beverages and fire extinguishers. As the most significant greenhouse gas, it has an important role for life on Earth by keeping the planet warm and habitable through the greenhouse effect. Today there is a man-made excess of
CO₂ in Earth’s atmosphere which is heating the planet faster than natural processes can regulate causing climate change.
Sources of Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide is produced during respiration by all living beings who breath to survive. However it is also produced during the processes of decay and combustion of organic matter like wood and fossil fuels, such as coal, peat, petroleum and natural gas.
Carbon Dioxide Concentration in the Air
As of the 8th of July 2020, there are about 415 PPM (parts per million) of
CO₂1 in the atmosphere - this is a concentration of around 0.04% - and the amount is increasing at an alarming rate. Concentration levels in 1780 at the start of the Industrial Revolution, where people started burning organic matter for energy in large amounts, were only 280 PPM. Since then the CO₂ density in the air has been rising uncontrollably. An excess of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere results in a stronger greenhouse effect and global warming.
Graph showing levels of `CO₂` in the atmosphere in parts per million
Carbon Dioxide Removal
As natural processes produce
CO₂, they also remove it in a natural cycle. Plants are able to remove
CO₂ from the air via photosynthesis and over centuries it is possible for carbon dioxide to naturally turn into stone. But as there is an additional unnatural source of
CO₂ produced by humans, it is necessary for man to enhance those natural processes and use man-made processes to remove the anthropogenic (man-made) excess of carbon dioxide causing the climate crisis. Those man-driven methods to take out
CO₂ from the atmosphere, are called carbon removal methods.