It’s been a million years for the earth to sustain life, and the changes it had faced within the last few decades have abolished its unique identity. These changes, however, cannot be completely retrieved but could be subdued if certain measures are incorporated. One such measure is limiting our carbon emissions.
The carbon footprint is one of the factors contributing to global warming. Global warming is the phenomenon of a gradual rise in the temperature of the earth’s surface. This rise is due to the trapping of heat waves by gases in the atmosphere known as greenhouse gases. The gases responsible are carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, ozone, water vapor, etc. Carbon dioxide, being a heavier gas, has a tendency to trap more heat waves resulting in warming the earth’s surface.
Carbon is present in all forms of life and exists in nature in various forms. Naturally, in the presence of oxygen, carbon reacts to form carbon dioxide. But, commonly, it is produced due to human-induced activities such as the burning of fossil fuel, natural disasters such as volcanic outgassing, forest fires, etc., decomposition of organic matter, and from the respiration process of living organisms. The quantity of carbon dioxide released into the environment as a result of our daily human activities is termed as a carbon footprint. It is measured in equivalent tons of CO2 and is associated with an individual or an organization. This generation is mainly from the production and consumption of fossil fuels, food, manufactured goods, materials, and transportation.
Carbon sequestration is one of the methods in abating or controlling carbon emissions. It is defined as the process of capturing and securing the storage of carbon in plants, soil, and in oceans destroying its potential to become CO2 gas. It ultimately prevents CO2 from entering the earth’s atmosphere. The objective is to stabilize carbon in solid and dissolved forms, thus preventing the atmosphere from warming. The process has helped in reducing the human “carbon footprint” which is the major cause of global warming.
Carbon sequestration (CS) occurs naturally or by man-made activities. It has three types: Geological, Biological, and Technological. Geological CS is the process of capturing carbon from industrial sources and storing it underground geologic formation, e.g. – rocks, reservoirs, etc. In the Biological CS process, the carbon is stored in vegetation. i.e., forest cover and grassland, in soil or in oceans. About 25% of carbon dioxide or carbon emissions are captured by the oceans and about 25% is captured by the forest cover. In the Technological CS process, carbon dioxide is used as a raw material to produce an end product. Typical examples include the production of Graphene, a material used to create screens for smartphones. Other examples are Direct Air Capture (DAC) and engineered molecules.
The sources or materials which retain the carbon and prevent it from entering into the atmosphere is known as a carbon sink. It is an ongoing process of capture and release. For instance, a plant captures carbon dioxide for the process of photosynthesis and releases it when it dies.
Even if carbon sequestration is new in technology, naturally it has been in existence from the time earth has to sustain life. When forest count was more in comparison to that of humans. Mangroves are one of the best carbon sequesters. They capture carbon and store it underneath their roots. Current population growth and its effect on earth derive an urgent need to cultivate more trees and increase the forest cover. This could be only possible if afforestation is practiced at a global level. Reducing the carbon footprint at an individual level could sum up prodigiously. Plantation should be encouraged by succinctly developing prospect ideas and creating awareness about such techniques at each level of education. Awareness must be created at the regional and local levels. Even the Government has introduced many schemes for the people who are successful in developing the green cover. Industries that are major contributors to global warming should improvise their green belt area.