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  • Published: Jul 29th, 2010
  • Category: Global
  • Comments: 3

Why we will never have too much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere

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Could we possibly have too much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere? Theoretically, it is possible, but highly unlikely. An object larger than the earth could also theoretically hit us. It could happen. Chances are, it won’t happen though.

Scientists believe that when the earth first formed an atmosphere, CO2, methane, and sulfur compounds were common, along with water vapor. There is little doubt that the levels of carbon dioxide were many times greater than they are today. From this noxious mixture, the first life sprang up on the planet, the simplest plants like algae, while the CO2 helped to keep the earth from becoming a frozen ball in space at the same time.

Today, plant life still forms the main basis of the food chain for most animal life on Earth. In order to survive, plants usually require CO2, which they combine with the energy of sunlight to produce sugars and oxygen. The oxygen is needed for animals to survive.

Most carbon dioxide, though, is absorbed by the oceans and by rocks. If all of this were released into the atmosphere, it would probably lead to extinction like nothing Earth has ever experienced. There is no known mechanism, by which this would ever happen, though.

Instead, the oceans are not saturated, and if CO2 levels rise, more is absorbed. If ice melts, the volume of water capable of absorbing carbon dioxide increases, in turn lowering the amount in the atmosphere. It is quite interesting what else happens with increased levels of this gas.

Since the carbon dioxide is necessary for plant life, it stands to reason that increased levels mean an increase in plant growth. This is exactly what has happened in our past, according to the fossil records. High CO2 levels correspond with times of extreme plant production.

Earth has a self-sustaining system. The more of this gas is produced, the more plant life there is to take advantage of it. Looking at the major causes of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, the biggest is volcanic eruptions. To get an idea of the scope, a moderate eruption produces more CO2 than man is capable of producing in a year. Yet, there are about 13-17 volcanoes erupting somewhere in the world at any given time.

The next leading cause of CO2 is the decay of plant matter, including but not limited to forest fire. As plants decay, they release carbon dioxide, and carbon. The latter easily bonds with oxygen, to make carbon dioxide. Since this encourages plant growth, it is taken in by developing plants and can lead to explosive growth, again lowering the CO2 levels.

This all explains how carbon dioxide is used, and why it is so important if we want to continue to survive. Ultimately, though, the reason there won’t likely be too much CO2 is because there is a finite about of both carbon and oxygen on Earth. This means that only a certain amount of CO2 can be produced, and this hasn’t changed much over the billions of years the earth has been around.

It is a probability that as long as the earth has water, oceans, plant life, and rocks, all of which absorb carbon dioxide, there will never be too much of it.

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3 Responses to “Why we will never have too much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere”

  1. Gordon Parish
    on Jul 30th, 2010
    @ 8:11 am

    Debunk Alert – from the United States Geological Survey

    Volcanic versus anthropogenic CO2 emissions

    Do the Earths volcanoes emit more CO2 than human activities? Research findings indicate that the answer to this frequently asked question is a clear and unequivocal,

  2. Ashley
    on Jul 30th, 2010
    @ 8:39 am

    The logic behind the arguments/ statements are valid (plants require C02, C02 is stored with the earth, humans need 02). Equilibrium must also be considered. Too much of of a ‘good’ thing may not actually be a good thing. There is a tipping point and if you use our neighboring planets it becomes evident. Artificial introduction of carbon into the atmosphere may disrupt that equilibrium we currently find ourselves in. Then again, it may not.

    We shall discuss more in a few 100 000 years. See ya then.

  3. Wayne
    on Jun 12th, 2011
    @ 4:35 pm

    What a load of utter rubbish. This unreferenced load of half truths is unsupportable. The idea that CO2 increase and its effect on climate can be ignored because plants use carbon to grow is ridiculous. Where is your evidence and references to the latest science. If this equilibrium is so effective at stopping CO2 rises then why has it failed to check the increase to this point? Why has it never stopped CO2 from rising in the past?

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