Carbon Sinks

Carbon Sinks
David Schlecht

Ever wonder where all the continent-size coal fields came from? Ever wonder where all the oceans of oil came from? Ever wonder about the term fossil fuels? Let’s look into these issues for a quick trip down memory lane.

Oil is the ancient remnants (fossils) of carbon-rich microbes. Not just one or two, but oceans full of them. Where did they go? Why don’t we see anything even closely duplicating that today?

Coal is the ancient remains of carbon-rich plants. We don’t see any plants like that leaving behind any coal for us today.

Why? Where have all the fossil fuel sources gone?

Just like we would be unable to live on the earth during those days, those plants and microbes are unable to live on today’s Earth.

Millions of years ago the earth was a very different place, so different, in fact, that you and I would not be able to breath there. ┬áThe CO2 in the atmosphere was over 1,000 ppm (parts per million). We wouldn’t survive.

At the beginning of the industrial revolution the CO2 in our air was about 280 ppm. Right now, we’re just under 400 ppm.

When the air was rich in CO2, there was an abundance of plants and microbes that metabolized the carbon and the fossils of these became carbon sinks, sinking oceans of carbon in oil fields and continents of carbon in coal fields, under the surface of the earth. These are huge carbon sinks that helped remove the carbon from the air, making it possible for you and me to breathe, making it possible for most of the plants and animals we see today, to exist.

As we burn up these carbon sinks in our gas tanks and in our power plants, we are returning to the atmosphere the rich abundance of carbon that will make Earth a place in which we can no longer live.

We all know that humans will stop this foolish mistake of returning the carbon to our airs long before it’s too late. But, there are many other carbon sinks in the world that will automatically release their carbon just by the earth warming up.

As hard as it may be to believe, it is possible that our world could change into a planet inhospitable to life as we know it and after a point, there may not be a darned thing we can do about it.