Energy, the Carbon Cycle, and Enduring Greenhouse Gas Management

Author: 
Tom Miles

Energy, the Carbon Cycle, and Enduring Greenhouse Gas Management
Duane Pendergast, IEEE, 2006

Abstract

Knowledge of energy has allowed humans to flourish in numbers unimaginable to our ancestors. Some are concerned that emissions from the fossil fuels we use will lead to changing climate with possibly disastrous consequences.

Many propose that we improve the efficiency of energy use and conserve resources to lessen greenhouse gas emissions and avoid climate catastrophe. It is unlikely such initiatives will have a perceptible effect on atmospheric greenhouse gas content.

All life on earth depends on energy and the cycling of carbon. Humans have just recently learned how to recover fossil fuels and are recycling them by burning them in power plants, planes, trains, and automobiles, thus modifying the carbon cycle with additional greenhouse gas emissions.

We need to step back from micro management of greenhouse gas emissions to more fully appreciate human influence on the carbon cycle. Potential future human modifications to the cycle as means to manage atmospheric greenhouse gas are considered. It is suggested humans will need to ingeniously exploit even more energy to integrate its use with control of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Keywords: greenhouse gas management, energy, carbon dioxide, carbon cycle, climate change, efficiency