A hot button topic for the last decade has been the effects of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) on the environment. The politics of the subject and our introduction of the substance to the atmosphere is the latest debate. This article will not tell you what to think on the matter, it will only provide for you some background as to the possible influence of, or lack thereof, CO2 on climate change and specifically, global warming. After reading this and performing for yourself, the experiments outlined; it will be up to you to form an opinion and act on it as you see fit.
Carbon Dioxide is a substance that is heavier than oxygen. This weight difference is the enabling factor in plant life’s food cycle. The heavier CO2 settles down around the ground which allows plants to absorb the gas for sustenance. These plants process the CO2 and emit oxygen as waste. This oxygen, being lighter than the CO2, rises up and away from the plants allowing more CO2 to fill the void. The food (life) cycle is simple.
With a basic understanding of CO2 and its affect on plant life in place, it is now time to look at some practical applications. First, remember terrariums, mini eco-systems set up in large jars? To complete this experiment you will need one. The type of plants inside is not important. It just needs to be established as a living system. You will need a second, exact lid for the jar that you used to make the terrarium. This additional lid will need to be modified for the safety of the experiment. Please follow the below instructions that will protect against the expansion pressures during the experiment. Without allowing for this pressure, a risk of serious injury exists.
- Drill a small hole, ¼” or less in the second lid.
- Thread a rubber/latex balloon through a steel washer with a hole size similar to that drilled in the lid.
- Position the balloon opening and washer flat on the second lid directly over the hole that you drilled.
- Mix up and apply some epoxy, such as JB Weld, around the washer to fasten it to the lid. Follow the instructions on the epoxy’s package and allow sufficient time for its complete hardening. The important thing here is to ensure that a leak proof seal is achieved.
You are now ready for the experiment to be set into motion. You have a mini eco-system and a lid prepared that will allow for the increase in internal pressure that will arise during the practical application. You now need to obtain some dry ice, which is entirely CO2 in the frozen form. As you may have guessed, we intend to introduce this ice to our terrarium and see what happens.
Use extreme caution not to touch the dry ice with any exposed portion of your body. Protective clothing is highly recommended. This clothing includes: Face Shield, Protective Gloves, and Apron and your personal wear that you would, appropriately, don prior to going outside in the winter. Now break or saw off a chunk of the dry ice that will have a base, once set down, that is about 4” square that will still fit through the jar’s opening. The remainder of the dry ice can be used in the next experiment, if you have done the preparation work already. This will save some money, so it is recommended that both experiments are conducted at the same time.
Once you have a piece of dry ice sized correctly and the second lid at the ready, open the terrarium and place the dry ice inside, anywhere. Then cover the jar’s opening with the second lid that you have modified. This experiment is now set into motion.
As the dry ice melts, a transfer of energy will take place and will be displayed as a fog throughout the jar. The balloon that you attached to the lid will expand to relieve the pressure on the glass walls. However, the CO2 will remain inside the eco-system. The proportion of CO2 will far exceed that found in our normal atmosphere.
The first thing that you will notice is that the fog will drop to the surface around the plants and then dissipate as the temperature of your terrarium equalizes with the surrounding area. It will eventually reach room temp. You will then notice that the plant life that was in close proximity to the dry ice has died from the freezing temperatures. This is O.K. provided other plants remain alive and vibrant.
As time goes by, the plants will flourish much like you have introduced some form of fertilizer. Your plants will love the extra CO2. They will thrive in the CO2 saturated environment; that they will process into oxygen. It is possible, that given enough time, the plants would die as a result of oxygen poisoning, when the supply of CO2 is depleted.
The second experiment requires a small Folding Table, some Plastic Sheeting from simplyplastics.com, and some Duct Tape. Lay the plastic out on the floor. In the middle of the plastic, place the folding table with its legs extended, upside down. Pull the excess plastic up and over the legs of the table in the same fashion as gift wrapping. Allow the plastic that would cover the top to fall inside the makeshift box (tank) that you have created. Utilize duct tape to ensure that the plastic remains in place. You will need to fold the corners of the plastic upward to prevent anything from flowing out of the containment area you have just manufactured.
If you have leftover dry ice from the first experiment (you should have if you bought a five pound block), place it in the bottom of your home-made tank. A substitute for the dry ice is a tank of pressurized CO2 that is used at a soda fountain. A push-button pop delivery system like the ones in a bar use this bottled gas. You can ask them where to procure one. This bottled gas will require a hose attached to the valve on one end and the placement of the other end in the bottom of your tank in order to introduce the CO2 to the test area. Should you desire to see this practical application on video, you can purchase Exodus Earth: Venus by visiting this site's shopping mall and surfing through the Discovery Store.
Now, if you have placed your leftover dry ice in the tank, you will see the fog it produces as it melts. This will help you to know what level the gas has achieved in the tank. You will not be able to determine this easily if you use bottled CO2. If the gas exceeds the size of the containment area, that is O.K. See this MSDS. In this application, the gas is pretty harmless. However, use caution not to suffocate yourself. The CO2 will displace your breathable air.
If a fog was visualized, this will disappear as the CO2 achieves room temperature. The final appearance of the gas will be invisible. It will still be inside your make-shift tank. The next step will confirm that.
You will need to blow up a rubber/latex balloon using your own breath. The use of your lungs to inflate the balloon is to ensure a mixture of gases found in the atmosphere are present in the balloon. The ratio of CO2 will be higher and the oxygen will be lower than normal due to your body processing the air. However, this will compound the effects that result from you doing the experiment.
Everything is ready. Attempt to place your inflated balloon, which has been tied off to seal, at the bottom of your containment area. Release it and watch what happens.
This author is fond of saying “Dumb questions can destroy good theories.” That thought can be expanded to communicate that “One scientific idea can ruin another.” Such is what apparently happens when conducting this second experiment.
In the show, Exodus Earth: Venus, a scientist develops an idea on how to colonize the planet Venus. The problems to overcome are numerous. They range from temperature, to pressure, and most notably for this article, the CO2 content of the atmosphere. The scientist proposes that a colony could live and operate in an air-filled balloon (zeppelin) well above the surface of the planet. During the show, he conducts the very same experiment to show his theories validity. A balloon filled with air floats above CO2.
There was no intent by the scientist or those associated with the show to say that the experiment created doubt about CO2’s effect on our environment. That was just a side effect of the demonstration. “One scientific idea…”
So, Where do we stand now?
Well, for those who support the idea that our carbon output is destroying our living conditions, you will need to develop answers for the questions that arise from the above. A process for allowing CO2 to rise up and remain high in the atmosphere in order to facilitate the global warming that is claimed to be happening needs to be found.
Before supporters simply claim that heated CO2 will rise similar to heated air, you must be informed that it is true that heated CO2 will rise in cooler CO2. However, heated CO2 in our normal atmosphere will perform a thermo transfer of stored energy (heat) much too quickly to allow it to achieve the altitudes required to affect our environment. This is the result of CO2’s thermal transfer characteristics compared to the other substances in our air.
CO2 is used as a refrigerant to achieve extremely low temperatures. Sabroe, a company in Europe has incorporated CO2 into its industrial refrigerators in order to reach temps as low as -53° C. This is possible due to the CO2’s ability to absorb heat/energy and quickly and efficiently disperse it to other substances. In a nutshell, CO2 can not easily hold heat; thereby it is highly unlikely that CO2 can heat up and rise very far from the surface of our planet.
These dilemmas cause one to sit back and ponder whether or not enough testing has been conducted on the matter. There is now some doubt as to the purity of air samples that have been evaluated. It is distinctly possible that new testing should be performed to determine the validity of CO2’s effect on climate change. It is proposed here that a controlled environment should be used to determine if it is possible for CO2 to defy gravity long enough to affect our atmosphere. A controlled experiment with the introduction of large amounts of CO2 could be conducted inside of a biosphere to make the determination.
For those who have beliefs that human introduced CO2 has had no effect on our atmosphere, you now have some simple practical applications that you can site to drive home your point. It becomes important, at this point, who you are talking to. Tell them CO2 is heavier/denser than oxygen as you main point.
There can be little doubt that climate change happens. Further, it is doubtful that the spending of vast amounts of money to prevent our demise is wasted. However, throwing monetary units at the wrong target is not a wise idea. The above article has shown that we may be targeting the wrong thing and, not withstanding the politics of the matter, it is time to actually perform some scientific experiments on the subject.
In my book, “Are We Worth Our Salt?” you will find a new target at which we can direct our efforts. This target and the process that it utilizes is gaining acceptance and finding more and more empirical evidence that support its theory. If you are interested in climate change, it is a must read.
Copyright Arthur Ryan 2010
Presented with permission of the author
About the Author
Arthur “Art” Ryan is an independent researcher and author, who is a full-time employee supporting a major railroad and a small business owner of a process engineering consulting company, that enjoys all manner of things science. He is a baseball and football fan, who values his privacy and therefore writes under a pseudonym.
His book concerning Earth Changes is called “Are We Worth Our Salt?” which can be purchased through Lulu by visiting http://stores.lulu.com/arthurryan or Amazon and may be procured at you local Barnes and Noble store.
Art accepts constructive criticism about his ideas and welcomes evidence that support or dispute his thoughts. Questions and comments can be addressed to Art through his official website www.sciencedoubts.com
At his site, Art has opened a controlled, closed forum where intellectuals, professionals, academics, and aspiring amateurs can express their thoughts, findings, and alternate theories under pseudonyms; thereby avoiding possible damage to their careers or loss of existing funding. This site is to be driven by its users and will grow to fit the need. Those interested in writing on Science Doubt are invited to review the “Outstanding Questions” and “News Articles” sections for topic ideas or to contact the editor about your own.
Are We Worth Our Salt?
Have you ever wondered what is behind some of the World's mysteries? Do you ponder Earth changes and natural climate swings? If so, this is a book for you. Addressed herein is a primary thought that when first published by another author "electrified" Albert Einstein.
Yet, a cause for the theory was not previously given. This book will show the process steps needed to bring it to culmination. A cause and effect approach will be brought into play to solve this dramatic puzzle. Our Civilization is on the line and it requires your assistance to save it. Are you up to the challenge?
Also available here: