Carbon is like Money
Most of us are concerned about climate change and want to do what we can to minimize ourcontributions to greenhouse gases.
It’s complicated, though.
There are scores of recommendations on how to minimize our carbon footprints, some quite consequential andothers relatively insignificant.
Carbon isn’t like a
n addictive drug we can try to quit using. We are made of carbon. Weconsume food made of carbon, exhale carbon dioxide (CO
), expel methane (CH
), and excretecarbonaceous feces. Plants and animals are made of carbon, too, and experience the same orsimilar processes. Worst of all, most of our major fuel sources involve carbon. Carbon can befound in the atmosphere, in the ocean, in earth materials, and in the biosphere as chemicalcompounds and life forms. So,
we can’t just
abstain from using carbon. We have to manage howwe use it.Think of carbon as if it were your money. Just as you can manage your money by placing it indifferent types of accounts, you can manage the carbon you use by directing it to an appropriateenvironmental medium.
Carbon in the Atmosphere is like Pocket Change
Like pocket change, you have to use a certain amount of carbon all the time. But the atmosphereis the worst place for carbon to go.
Once there, it’s difficult to reclaim an
t’s where the
deleterious effect on climate occurs. With pocket change, you need enough to conduct your daily
life but you don’t want to carry too much that might be
spent frivously, or get lost or stolen.Minimize the amount of carbon that you release to the atmosphere to the extent you can. You
have to breathe, for instance, and there’s not much you can do about flatulence
. There are,however, quite a few things you can do without turning your life upside down. First andforemost,
the amount of carbon fuels that you burn or cause to be burned by yourchoices as a consumer. For example, use more efficient means of transportation, like ridingpublic transportation instead of driving. Use electric-powered tools instead of gas-powered tools.You may get your electricity from a fossil fuel plant but those facilities are much more efficientand release comparatively less pollution than your lawnmower. And yes, your back yard fire pit
will release the carbon stored in wood to the atmosphere. It’s a small, even insignificant release
ng as you don’t start a forest fire
, but it illustrates how you have to manage your choices.Like pocket change, you need to consider whether your carbon usage is worth the benefits youreceive in return.
Carbon in the Ocean is like a Retirement Account
The ocean is perhaps the best place for carbon to be sequestered because it can be locked up forcenturies.
Better yet, you don’t have to do much if anythin
g to make it happen. Let theprofessionals track what
s going on.
Social Security and some other retirement accounts.The deductions are automatic and, barring some unforeseen calamity, you can count on thedeposits being safe for the long term.
Carbon in the Biosphere is like Checking and Savings Accounts
Carbon in the biosphere may not be your biggest amount to manage, but
if you’re a gardener, it’s
likely to be the one you think about most often. Plants extract carbon from the soil and the air