Stalling Greenhouse Gas Effects

Is it possible to slow down the effects of greenhouse gases? Yes, but mitigation depends upon the lifespan of each of them and how they are propagated. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide (NO2), chlorine, and fluorine.

The last two in this list do not have specific lifespans because they have been formulated into combinations with other chemicals. Each of them can last in the atmosphere from less than a year to many thousands of years.

Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas” is destroyed in the stratosphere and removed from the atmosphere slowly, persisting for about 114 years. Sewage and fertilizers are sources of NO2 in our environment. 25% of its global emission is found in the ocean hotspots, also known as “dead zones.” These zones are caused by an overgrowth of algae and seaweeds which block out the sunlight for photosynthesis. The sunblock causes the death of living organisms below consuming oxygen as they decompose. That is why these “dead zones” are also called “oxygen minimum zones.”

Methane is short-lived and is removed from the atmosphere through chain reactions over a period of 12 years. Its sources are the breakdown of organic matter as in the decay of wetland plants, underground gas seepage, and food digestion by humans and animals. Interestingly, an increase in methane has been correlated with the widespread use of antibiotics over the past 50 years.

65-84% of global CO2 is dissolved in the oceans over a period of 20-200 years, with the remainder being much slower and may take several hundred thousand years. Trees and forests are the least expensive means of reducing CO2, and cleansing the air and water, with a potential of one gigaton removal per year or approximately 10% of CO2 production. Farms utilizing cover crops and compost reduce CO2 production.

Science is scrambling to develop effective carbon capture methods. Much needs to be known for the development of ocean-based concepts. Sped-up carbon mineralization is under development. It is estimated that when low or zero carbon energy sources have been perfected, one gigaton of carbon could be effectively scrubbed through direct carbon capture.

Meanwhile, reduced greenhouse gas production is optimum.

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