There is much concern at the present time about the increasing addition of green house gases to the earth’s atmosphere. A prominent greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. This gas is produced when fossil fuels are burnt to produce energy for driving our automobiles or for producing electricity in power plants. It is believed that increasing addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will result in adverse changes to the earth’s climate such as global warming to the extent that many presently inhabited areas of our planet will become inhabitable.
As a result of the concern caused by the emission of carbon dioxide from power plants it has been proposed that the use of fossil fuels should be restricted and a greater emphasis should be laid on alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind power.
There is however another route to reducing green house gases that may in the long run prove to be the most beneficial route towards improving the life sustaining qualities of our planet. This route is to green the planet. Carbon dioxide is to plant life what oxygen is to human and animal life. Plants need it for their growth and sustenance. Every time a tree is grown, it absorbs and converts some atmospheric carbon dioxide to useful organic materials. This absorption of carbon dioxide is rapid in the early growing phase of a tree. Absorption of carbon dioxide continues throughout the life cycle of a tree because trees continue to produce fresh foliage year after year.
Large portions of our planet have been deforested through recent human activity. While some deforestation is required for agricultural purposes there is much that can be avoided. In addition very large parts of our planet are large deserts or barren land not suitable for agriculture. These latter tracts are ideally suited for increasing green forests on earth. In ancient times they were green. It is for this reason that petroleum is found in such areas. Modern science and technology has made feasible the planting of select varieties of trees in dry desert areas. It is true that there is a cost involved in planting forests. Some of these can be recovered if the money that is being used for developing and subsidizing alternative energy sources is diverted for this purpose. More can be generated if the industries emitting carbon dioxide are levied an additional tax for forestations
The source of fossil fuels is green organic matter that once grew on earth’s surface. In ancient times this got buried under the surface and converted into coal, gas and crude petroleum oil. Bringing it back to the surface of the earth through mining is the first step towards returning this green material to the earth’s surface. The second step is its combustion to produce carbon dioxide.
The final step is the conversion of this carbon dioxide to plants and trees through human effort. The green house gas emitting industry is already doing a commendable job of the first two steps of this cycle. However, we as a civilization have lagged behind in the last step towards greening our planet. Urgent attention must be given to this last step. If not done, it will result in the conversion of some of this green gas into materials such as inorganic carbonates through natural processes. Calcium carbonate is one such product. One converted into an inorganic form the carbon becomes unavailable for creating biomass. The result is a planet that is more barren than it has ever been before. Large scale planting of trees that reduce barren tracts of earth, including the Sahara Desert is the route to go if humans are seriously interested in improving our planet over the short as well as the long term.
Dr. Ashok Malhotra holds a doctoral degree in engineering from the University of British Columbia canada. He has been recognised as a leading international educator by the International Biographical Center at Cambridge, England. For more of his activities please visit [http://steamcenter.com]
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