CO2 Pollution and Global Warming

CO2 Pollution and Global Warming - CO2 Pollution and Global...

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CO2 Pollution and Global Warming When does carbon dioxide become a pollutant? CO2 in the political spotlight Carbon dioxide has taken center stage in the environmental arena in recent months. In August of 2003 the US Administration reversed the 1998 decision of the previous administration, which had classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and made it subject to the provisions of the Clean Air Act. As a result of the reversal of the 1998 decision, automobile manufacturers and power plants have been able to avoid making costly modifications that would have been required under the 1998 ruling. In 2006 environmental groups pushed for legislation that would reinstate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. In August of 2006 EPA General Counsel Robert Fabricant concluded that since the Clean Air Act does not specifically authorize regulation to address climate change, CO2 is not a pollutant. The reason given for not classifying CO2 as a pollutant is based upon the fact that it is a natural component of the atmosphere and needed by plants in order to carry out photosynthesis. No one would argue the fact that carbon dioxide is a necessary component of the atmosphere any more than one would argue the fact that Vitamin D is necessary in the human diet. However, excess Vitamin D in the diet can be extremely toxic. Living systems, be they an ecosystem or an organism, require that a delicate balance be maintained between certain elements and/or compounds in order for the system to function normally. When one substance is present in excess and as a result threatens the wellbeing of an ecosystem, it becomes toxic, and could be considered to be a pollutant, despite the fact that it is required in small quantities. Finding the source of increased CO2 in the atmosphere The Carbon Cycle Some scientists have suggested that when the earth was new (about 4.5 billion years ago), CO2 may have made up as much as 80% of the earth's atmosphere. About 2 billion years ago, the concentration of CO2 was likely 20 or 30%. Human life and even most life could not have survived in such an atmosphere. With the evolution of photosynthesizing plants, the concentration of CO2 dropped and the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere increased. Remember that in photosynthesis:
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This note was uploaded on 06/06/2011 for the course ENG 101 taught by Professor Lewis during the Spring '07 term at SUNY Plattsburgh.

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CO2 Pollution and Global Warming - CO2 Pollution and Global...

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