May 2, 2012
Will Restricting U.S. Carbon Emissions Damage the U.S. Economy?
An important issue affecting the world today is climate change due to the increase in the amount of greenhouse gases that is released into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are gases that accumulate in the atmosphere due to human activity and the earth's natural biological and chemical processes. The four major greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide , methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2011). The main contributing factor to climate change is the abundance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Due to the burning of fossil fuels, solid waste, trees, and other chemical reactions carbon dioxide is absorbed into the atmosphere enhancing the greenhouse effect. Carbon is an element essential to all living things on Earth. It undergoes two cycles that are necessary to stabilize the environment: the biological carbon cycle and the geological carbon cycle. In the biological carbon cycle, carbon is absorbed in plants and the inorganic carbon is converted to its biological form through photosynthesis via plants and phytoplankton ("Carbon cycle," 2008). During respiration, carbon dioxide reenters the air after being broken down for energy (ATP) carbon dioxide gas. Carbon that remains in the oceans sink are buried into the earth's crust. When humans extract oil and coal for energy usage the byproduct carbon dioxide is released affecting the geological carbon cycle. The biological cycle is affected in two ways. When forests are cleared for land usage, the burning causes a release in carbon dioxide and the cleared land can no longer assist in the process of photosynthesis or the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere ("Carbon cycle," 2008). Since the Industrial revolution, large amounts of carbon dioxide have been released and continue to be released in the atmosphere. With the decrease in forests and continuation of the burning