Stripping CO2 of its Villainy

Madhusudan Joshi


There’s a famous puzzle about a bear. A hunter follows a bear running five kilometres south. Then he runs five kilometres to the west and thenfivekilometres to the north. To the hunter’s surprise he finds himself at exactly the same location from where he started. So, what is the colour of the bear? A trick question? No, it is a proper puzzle and the answer to the question is that the bear white in colourbecause this can happen only on the North Pole.

Similarly, if one puts a question that in a particular year carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was 385 ppmv, then what was the world population in that year? Is this a trick question? Let’sexplore.

Now again, who is the biggest villain in the world today? There can be many answers and ironically the answers may be diametrically opposite based on the ideologies people follow.Today, it is quite likely that overwhelmingly many would consider carbon dioxide as the greatestvillain because it may cause unprecedented damage to the environment in the near futurewhich would take hundreds or even thousands of years for earth to recover from. 

If we do not check the effects of carbon dioxide on global warming,scientists predict that many of the coastal cities will get submerged, there would be frequent droughts and heat waves, increased frequency of wildfires, the frequency of hurricanes and tornadoes will increase manifold due to the El Nino effect.In the worst scenario, global warming may lead to reduction in biodiversity and even mass extinction in which more than fifty per cent of the species will be wiped out. The earth may require hundreds of thousands of years to recover.

However, the conundrum is that life is not possible without carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is an essential component in the flow of energy in the biosphere.It is an essential component of photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide thus is essential for life on the Earth.

Besides, if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere goes low beyond a level, it could lead to an ice age and more importantly, it may lower the efficiency of photosynthesis which will affect the biosphere negatively resulting in lower productivity of plants, lower throughput of animals and even loss of biodiversity…read more on NOPR