Sunday, March 30, 2008

What is CO2?

Stumbling around the internet tubes and I came across this site: Greening Australia. Well made site. Very pretty. Lots of good stuff about climate change.

Well, not quite.

See if you can work out what's wrong with this statement:

Plants and trees absorb CO2 for their biomass and then convert it to oxygen through photosynthesis. This process is known as the 'Carbon Cycle' and without it life on earth could not exist.
Plants don't convert CO2 to O2, they convert CO2 to sugars, the O2 comes from water (H2O) through a separate (though linked) process.

But wait, there's more.

This process is known as the 'Carbon Cycle' and without it life on earth could not exist.
What the ?!?! The carbon cycle is actually:

...... the biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged between the biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth.

The cycle is usually thought of as four major reservoirs of carbon interconnected by pathways of exchange. The reservoirs are the atmosphere, the terrestrial biosphere (which usually includes freshwater systems and non-living organic material, such as soil carbon), the oceans (which includes dissolved inorganic carbon and living and non-living marine biota), and the sediments (which includes fossil fuels). The annual movements of carbon, the carbon exchanges between reservoirs, occur because of various chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes. The ocean contains the largest active pool of carbon near the surface of the Earth, but the deep ocean part of this pool does not rapidly exchange with the atmosphere.
I'm all for simplifying science and communicating it to the masses but when you can't even get basic high school biology correct - that's a problem. When you're trying to set an example - that's an even bigger problem.

Rant over.