By Braydon Burt
The Earth is over 4 billion years old, and in those 4 billion years, modern humans have only been around for 200,000 years. The early Earth was devoid of oxygen, but full of carbon dioxide. This environment could not possibly sustain any life. But, eventually primitive life forms such as Sino and Archio bacteria formed. They endured the harsh climate, feeding off of the energy produced by the sun. Over time, these organisms altered the atmosphere, broke up molecules, and filled the atmosphere with oxygen. This slowly changed the environment into one that could sustain life. Humans lived peacefully, causing little harm to their environment nearly 3 billion years later. But in the last few centuries, the damage to the Earth has been extensive.
Increase in CO2 in our atmosphere: Past
Humans are constantly striving to do better. We have created technology beyond anyone’s imagination. We have landed people on the moon, and even have landed a probe on a comet. But all of these advancements in technology are taking their toll on the Earth. The Earth has a protective layer that surrounds it known as the ozone layer. When fossil fuels are burned, they produce harmful chemicals, including CO2, which eat away at this protective layer. This allows the Sun’s harmful rays to get through easier. Usually the majority of the rays would be absorbed bathe ozone layer, but due to the destruction of the ozone layer, these harmful rays are getting through easier, heating the Earth up. This is what most people refer to has global warming. Natural gas, coal, oil, petroleum, etc., are all responsible for the pollution of the Earth. But what if we found energy from clean sources, such as solar energy?
Increase in CO2 in our atmosphere: Future
The Sun emits a vast amount of energy in the form of solar radiation. When harnessed by solar panels, usable energy (electricity) is produced. It is estimated that if the whole world, every square meter, were to harness the power of sun at once for a period of time, it would produce over 400 terawatts of electricity. This much energy is insane. If every power plant in the world were to run on full for a period of time, it might reach 1 terawatt. If the world were to convert to clean energy, instead of burning fossil fuels, whether it were solar, hydro, wind power, or even a combination, the CO2 levels would drop dramatically, and the ozone layer would repair itself. If we catch it in time, the natural order of things may even go back to the conditions existing before the era of industrial technology.. The ice caps would stop melting, rivers would stop drying up, and the air in big cities would be cleaner. If people petition for a cleaner and more efficient Earth, they would not only be helping themselves, but also their children, and even their children’s children. Solar energy in my opinion would be the best way to go because it is, for a fact, efficient, cheaper, and easily accessible.
In conclusion, the rising CO2 levels are very alarming. But it isn’t too late for humans to clean up their act. They can stop using so much fuel and put solar panels on their roof. This would power a great majority of their electric utilities throughout the day, and fuel would be used in situations when useful solar radiation is not available. CO2 is literally the Earth’s poison. Perhaps if our government would finally realize that our world is slowly becoming more and more toxic, they would also be motivated to change to cleaner, greener, and more efficient energy.
Braydon Burt is a 15 year old student at Sugar River Valley Regional Technical Center in Claremont, NH. He wrote this essay for his Building Sciences and Green Energy Class, taught by Mitch Sidd. Look for more essays from Braydon in future issues of Green Energy Times.