Carbon Sequestration, Climate Change, and CO2
Balancing Energy and the Environment
There is concern that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activity (anthropogenic GHGs) are
having an effect on the global climate. Carbon dioxide (CO2
) is the principal anthropogenic
GHG. The amount of carbon from anthropogenic CO2
entering in the atmosphere has grown
from a few million tons per year in 1850 to over 9 billion tons per year today.1
will double over the next half century if countries like China and India continue to develop
in a business-as-usual way.
Should stabilization of CO2
and other GHGs in the atmosphere be deemed necessary, there
would need to be a reduction in the amount of CO2
and other GHGs that are
released by human activity. Reducing anthropogenic CO2
emissions with the goal of
stabilizing the level of CO2
in the atmosphere is called CO2
management is a complex issue because most of the anthropogenic CO2
comes from the use of fossil fuels for energy, and maintaining our energy flow is critical to
our economy and our quality of life. Hear more about Balancing Energy and the Environment.
emissions can be reduced by energy
conservation, the use of more efficient fossil fuel energy systems, increased use of renewable
and nuclear energy, and carbon sequestration. Carbon sequestration, the capture and long-term
storage of CO2
from the atmosphere or from anthropogenic CO2
emerging as a major strategy for addressing climate change concerns.
Watch DOE Video "An Introduction to Carbon Capture and Sequestration"
It will be a major challenge to reduce anthropogenic CO2
output while maintaining a
strong economy. Experts agree that all options, from energy conservation to CO2
sequestration, will be needed over the long term to reduce anthropogenic CO2
emissions and the risk of climate change.2
sequestration will be an
important part of this effort.2
- Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/meth_reg.html
(accessed November 2010).
- Pacala, S., and Socolow, R., 2004, Stabilization wedges-solving the climate problem for the next 50 years with current technologies:
Science, v. 305, p. 968-972.