Dr. Manas Ranjan Senapati
The surface temperature of Venus is around 4600C. In the case of Mars, the temperature can dip to as low as -1400C. The reason is not only the distance factor but also the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) present in the atmosphere. The atmosphere of Venus is comprised mostly of CO2 that prevents the heat from escaping, thus turning the planet into a furnace. The planet Mars on the other hand lacks a thick atmosphere that can retain heat. Earth has the right amount of CO2 in the atmosphere that traps the right amount of heat from escaping thus making our planet neither extremely hot nor cold. An increase of CO2 level should theoretically speaking result in increased temperature. Carbon dioxide is called a green house gas (GHG) and the way heat is trapped in the atmosphere by CO2 and other green house gases is called the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide is the most important anthropogenic gas having atmospheric lifetime of about 120 years the growth-rate of which was larger during the last 10 years at the rate of 1.9 ppm per year. The safe concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide is 350 ppm. At present, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is 414 ppm compared to preindustrial level of 280ppm. A record which indicates CO2 levels staying within a range of between 180ppm and 280ppm throughout the last 800,000 years. We’re going up at 2 ppm per year, says geochemist Wallace Broecker of Columbia University. Hence 450ppm is only 30 years away. We’d be lucky if we could stop at 550 ppm. In comparison, the amount of oxygen is 210, 000 ppm. Some other gases that contribute to warming include methane, nitrous oxide, water vapour and chlorofluorocarbons. Carbon dioxide, with its enormous annual increase in concentration, contributes most, at 61%. Methane is second in importance, at 15%, CFC-12 is third, contributing 7%, and nitrous oxide fourth with 4% of the warming under these assumptions. Green house gases once emitted stay in the atmosphere for decades. An increase in average global temperatures of approximately 0.56 K has been measured over the past century. This increase is called global climate change or global warming. The gases with three or more atoms that have higher heat capacities than those of O2 and N2 cause the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a main greenhouse gas contributing 9-26% associated with global climate change.
There has been a sudden increase in the atmospheric CO2 since 2001. The natural sinks for instance; forests and oceans may be losing their ability to absorb CO2. A study of ocean data between 2000 and 2007 showed that ocean’s ability to absorb CO2 reduced from 27 per cent to 24 per cent. According to recent observations of ice loss, Antarctica could shrink by 33 per cent by 2100, leading to a sea-level rise of 1.4 meters.
It is estimated that volcanoes release about 130–230 million tonnes (145–255 million tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. Human activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation have caused the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide to increase by about 35% since the beginning of the age of industrialization. One liter of gasoline, when used as a fuel, produces about 2.32 kg of carbon dioxide. “To solve the problem, we need to eliminate net emissions of CO2 entirely,” physicist Myles Allen of the University of Oxford says. Emissions need to fall by 2 to 2.5 percent per year from now on.
Earth Day is celebrated every year as an annual event by the people all across the world on 22nd of April in order to increase the awareness among people about the environment safety as well as to demonstrate the environmental protection measures. First time, the earth day was celebrated in the year 1970 and then started celebrating annually on global basis by almost 192 countries. The theme of Earth Day 2023 is “Invest in Our Planet”. This year’s Earth Day theme is designed to persuade businesses, governments, and citizens around the world of the need to invest in our planet to improve our environment and give our descendants a better and safer future. Let’s treat every day as Earth Day in our life style to reduce our carbon footprint.
Writer is Dean Computer Application & Science Biju Patnaik University of Technology & Professor of Chemistry, Trident Academy of Technology. Email: [email protected]
Dr. Manas Ranjan Senapati