Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Greenhouse Effect

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

The level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has risen by as much as 40% since the Industrial Revolution.

The graph above shows the dramatic increase of CO2 in the atmosphere since 1960, as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

CO2 in the atmosphere, along with other gases like methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour, acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping much of the sun’s reflected energy before it returns out to space. The effect is to increase the surface temperature of our planet – global warming. (Here’s a link to an excellent explanation of the greenhouse effect by the Department of the Environment and Energy).


Trees, (in fact all plants), absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and through photosynthesis convert it to nutrient, glucose, for the tree to grow. There are are numerous websites that explain photosynthesis in more or less detail. Put very simply;
carbon dioxide + water (+ sunlight) = glucose + oxygen.

Australia’s native forests, about 147 million hectares, hold in store (or sequester) about 10.5 billion tonnes of carbon which translates to about 38.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, (Australia’s Chief Scientist)

Saving the planet and looking beautiful

Every little bit counts

When we drive our cars or switch on the television, etc, we produce carbon. Every Australian person produces about 8 tonne of carbon a year. To offset that much carbon, each person would need to plant more than 20 eucalypts a year for many years. This means we should be doing as much as we possibly can to preserve our existing mature trees and for every one we lose, replacing it with at least 20 more young seedlings.

An Example

Before - probably holding 46 tonne of CO2

Not anymore
The giant Mountain Grey Gum at the southern end of Oddy St was cut down in August this year. The tree was strong and healthy, and measured 1.4m diam and 30m tall. Using forestry standard calculations for eucalypts, this tree was sequestering more than 45 tonnes of CO2.

You can calculate your own greenhouse gas emission at the EPA Vic website.
The main sources of carbon dioxide detailed at What’s Your Impact.

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