Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Major New CO2 Threat To Climate Stability & Water Supplies

08.07.2004


A new report in top science magazine “Nature” shows that rising carbon dioxide or CO2, is causing a massive increase in dissolved chemicals in Britain’s waters. The chemicals (called DOC or dissolved organic carbon) could harm our health and accelerate current rises in atmospheric CO2 levels.



The discovery was made by a team led by wetland researcher Dr Chris Freeman, Royal Society Industry Fellow at the University of Wales, Bangor, who explained: “We’ve known for some time that CO2 levels have been rising and that these could cause global warming. But this new research has enormous implications because it shows that even without global warming; rising CO2 can damage our environment.”

The massive increase in river DOC means two things: 1) It can produce cancer-causing by-products when waters are treated with chlorine for drinking water supplies. And 2) when DOC breaks down to CO2 in the environment it adds further to global warming, and causes even more DOC increases in our rivers. “It’s like a vicious circle, where the problem gets, not just worse and worse, but faster and faster, the longer the process goes on.”


When asked why CO2 affects DOC release, Dr Freeman explained “Plants take up CO2 converting it into organic matter, some of which leaks out into the soil as DOC. But that isn’t the end of the story; Bacteria can use leaked DOC to provide energy to allow them to break down the soil itself. Peaty soils contain enormous quantities of carbon, even matching the carbon content of the entire atmosphere, and this too can then enter
our rivers as DOC.”

The dramatic rises in DOC were first recognised by Freeman and colleagues in rivers draining peatlands back in 2001. But until now, no one realised that rising CO2 emissions were causing the problem. Back in 2001 they reported that river DOC had increased 65% since 1988. “I was astounded when I heard from my colleagues at the Natural Environment Research Council’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology that the latest Acid
Waters Monitoring Network data shows that the increase has now gone above 90% for the first time.” said Freeman “The rate of acceleration suggests that we have disturbed something critical that controls the stability of the carbon cycle on our planet.”

We have to get our CO2 emissions under control. Freeman, who served on the UK United Nations Climate Change and Energy Forum in 2001-2002 explained that “International attempts to slow current rises in CO2 have failed mainly due to the refusal of US President Bush to sign up to the Kyoto protocol”. President Bush claims there isn’t enough proof that CO2 could affect our climate to warrant action, but Dr Freeman explained “Carbon dioxide is implicated in the DOC problem, and 25% of all CO2
emissions come from just one country, the USA. To make matters worse, if it wasn’t for the US, we’d have an international treaty in place by now to control emissions rises”.

What should we do now? The best option would be to persuade the US to join us, so that together we can increase our efforts to switch to non-fossil fuel technologies. A more extreme option might be to dig up all our peatlands as these are the main source of the DOC, but that would never be popular because of their wildlife interest. In a tone reminiscent of blockbuster movie , ‘The day after tomorrow’, Freeman said, “Perhaps the only realistic approach is to batten down the hatches and prepare for extreme climate changes even sooner than we expected”.

But even if you forget global warming, we still have to protect our water supplies. Fortunately the UK water industry is already responding by improving water treatment. But all this costs money, and one thing is for certain, if we can’t persuade Bush to take CO2 emissions more seriously, we’re the ones who will end up paying with ever-rising water bills and an ever more unpredictable climate.

Dr Chris Freeman | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bangor.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A CLOUD of possibilities: Finding new therapies by combining drugs

24.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines

24.05.2017 | Life Sciences

A quantum walk of photons

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>