Our climate. What is it? What is one prevailing negative force affecting it? What can mitigate this force? Perhaps some light can be shed on these questions. Webster’s Dictionary defines climate as the “ Prevailing influence or environmental conditions characterizing a group or period ( atmosphere ) “. Presently, our atmosphere is changing and not for the better. Our globe is warming. Hopefully, this is not a big surprise to anyone. A force affecting this warming is what is known as greenhouse gases. These gases are the bad guys when they become too abundant.
Although these gases might seem negligible ( @ 1% ) within our atmosphere, they are the only ones that can influence the temperature of the entire planet. The main players are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone. Carbon dioxide is not the most abundant of the gases, but may be the most influential. This is problematic since carbon dioxide plays a significant role in keeping our planet's’ surface temperature in an existable range for the flora, fauna, and humans. The conundrum is how much carbon dioxide is enough and how much is leading to danger?
Currently the carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere is + 400 parts per million. The noted environmental advocate Bill McKibben is comfortable with 350 parts per million. Therefore, either we should be addressing this growth or shrug it all off as “that’s not my job”. Personally, I chose to address it using climate science and proven facts. The situation in my view is the following, and I am not attempting to dumb it down. Carbon dioxide is already present. Fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide. A lot of other things emit this gas as well. A few are volcanoes, some rock erosion, flora and fauna decay, the oceans, and forest fires to be specific. All of these actions add to the current amount of carbon dioxide.
I’m not capable of controlling or regulating these production sources, but perhaps I can address the existing amount of carbon dioxide. I feel very fortunate to live in an area that is a rather low population area. Also, I possess almost 100 acres of mostly forested property. The rough breakdown would be about 35% old growth, 40% new growth, and 25% open field. A study conducted by Tufts University concludes that an old growth forest will sequester approximately 1.3 tons of carbon dioxide per acre per year. A new growth forest will lock up about 0.8 tons per acre per year. The studies parameters define old growth as 125+ years old, new growth at 50 years, and an acre as having 700 trees. Since a tree is made up of over 30% carbon, one can easily accept that trees indeed sequester carbon dioxide.
The information from the Tufts University study tells me that I am sequestering approximately 80+ tons of carbon dioxide each year. I have been told that the carbon dioxide output of each person in the United States is about 20+ tons per year. I think this sounds low, but if not, Meg and I are putting out 40+ tons yearly but also capturing about twice that amount. The point I would like to make is individuals can do things to mitigate carbon dioxide in the atmosphere if they explore the scientific information on the subject.