Source: Dan Hawkes
Nov. 10, 2–3 p.m., Building 50 Auditorium
In a Carbon Cycle 2.0 Special Event—on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2–3 p.m., Building 50 Auditorium—ESD Director Donald J. DePaolo talks about the link between climate change and the “carbon cycle change”: the fact that Earth’s carbon cycles have undergone revolutionary change, entirely due to human burning of fossil fuels and removal of forests.
The root cause of climate change is what could be called “carbon cycle change.” To change global climate, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere needs to change, which in turn requires a change in the way carbon is moved around among the various forms and places it exists in and on the Earth. If one looks backward millions of years into deep geologic time, and compares the Earth to other planets like Venus, it is possible to grasp how carbon can be moved in and out of planetary interiors, and how natural cycles have acted to regulate the Earth’s surface temperature. These natural geologic processes have produced large changes in the amount of atmospheric CO2 in the geologic past, but they act extremely slowly. In the past 100 years Earth’s carbon cycles have undergone revolutionary change, and there is no doubt that these changes have been produced entirely by burning of fossil fuel and removal of forests. Today, 98 to 99% of the net movement of carbon out of geologic reservoirs into the atmosphere is due to human activities. Whether you think this is a problem or not, it is nevertheless a fact that we are currently doing something that is unprecedented in Earth history.