Fighting ‘Global Warming’ but not the wrong way

Global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has increased from a pre-industrial value of about 280 ppm to 379 ppm in 2005. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. It traps the sun rays in the atmosphere that should in other way reflect back to the space. But as the rays are trapped, the atmospheric temperature increases – ‘global warming’.

On Friday May 30, the 191 countries that were taking part in the U.N.’s Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn, agreed to a waiting period (moratorium) on projects planned to add nutrients to the seas to accelerate the growth of carbon-absorbing algae. Reuters news.

The methods are simple:

either by adding trace amounts of iron (Fe) to the water that will enhance photosynthesis. Iron is a micronutrient (required in very small quantities by plants), it’s essential for chlorophyll formation. Chlorophyll is important for photosynthesis (making food for the plant) as it captures energy from the sun, or

by adding large amounts of nitrogen (N) to grow more algae. Nitrogen is a macronutrient (that means plants need it in larger quantities), it’s an essential part of all living cells and chlorophyll as well, and helps plants grow rapidly.

But then appears a new problem – ‘acidification of the oceans’. As CO2 will be absorbed by the algae part of it will dissolve in the water and will acidify the oceans. CO2 and water makes weak carbonic acid, but nevertheless it’s acid and will affect the marine life harshly.

Acidic water is not only a problem for fish and marine mammals, shelly animals like oysters will suffer poor growth of their protective shells as shells are calcified (calcium carbonate) and will be gradually eaten away by the corrosive sea water.

“The ocean has absorbed fully half of all the fossil carbon released to the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution” says The Scientific America. So we have to be very careful while we are determined to fight global warming.

Rather than the oceans, we can think to make small farms of carbon-absorbing algae on land which afterwards can be used as variety of by-products like fertilizers, bio-fuel or nutritious food products.

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