By Ed Caryl
The natural CO2 flux to and from oceans and land plants amounts to approximately 210 gigatons of carbon annually. (Note that this is carbon. Multiply the numbers by 3.7 for the total weight of CO2 including the two oxygen atoms.) Man currently causes about 9 gigatons of carbon to be injected into the atmosphere, about 4% of the natural annual flux. There are estimates that about half of man’s emissions are taken up by nature, or 2%. Why only half?
Figure 1 from NOAA and the IPCC, 2001 numbers, here.
The chart above updated to current numbers, implies that 3 gigatons of man’s emissions are absorbed by the oceans and 1.5 gigatons by the rest of the biosphere. If the vegetation on land absorbs 120 gigatons and if rising CO2 improves biosphere production, why isn’t all the excess CO2 also absorbed? It is because the biosphere is being destroyed faster than it can adapt to rising CO2.
About 60 years ago, I read somewhere, probably National Geographic, that the Amazon rain forests were the “lungs of the earth”, the place where CO2 was recycled back to oxygen. This phrase is still widely used, just Google “lungs of the earth” with the quotes and examine the result. One article in particular drew my attention. A quote:
…as recently as 19th century, tropical rain forests in their own right covered around 20% of all the dry land area of the Earth, but this figure was only 7% by the end of the 20th century.”
Image: NASA Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC
The world-wide increase in CO2 is not due to fossil fuel burning, it is due to the destruction of the worlds lungs. Clearing tropical forests for Biofuels production is contributing to that destruction.
Tropical rainforest destruction world-wide runs between 0.5% and 1% by area annually. The world’s lungs are suffering from TB, timber burning. For a horrifying world view of this problem go here, and view the video. Here is a MODIS satellite image of Myanmar on just one day. The red areas are fire.