Sunday, 28 December 2014

Carbon dioxide and fossil fuels

It’s actually a little easier to look at the impact of fossil fuels using coal as an example, but the principle applies to all fossil fuels.

A typical three-metre (10-foot) coal seam is estimated to have taken between 12,000 and 60,000 years to form.

Ancient trees and plants lived, died and were fossilised, having used carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over those millennia.

Some larger coal seams are, for example, 10 metres thick.

They took around 40,000 years to form but have been mined and burned in a little over 100 years.
We are time-warping vast amounts of ancient carbon (which we are combining with current oxygen) into our modern atmosphere.

The figure of 33.4 billion metric tonnes is for for 2010.  The figure for 2014 is expected to be 40 billion metric tonnes. 
The fastest rise of CO2 in the air seen in the ice core record (800,000 years) is 20 ppm in 1000 years.

CO2 level in the atmosphere is now rising at a rate of around 20 ppm per decade.

Atmospheric CO2 data and trend

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