The A - Z to Eco: A & B
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> A to Z of Eco
Date: 22 July, 2011
'As the global population has increased, and industry has grown, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased.'
Welcome to the new Surefish A to Z of the environment. We will work our way through from A to Z, starting with A and B. If there are any topics you would like to see covered, please do get in touch .
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A is for…
… atmosphere – well, it seemed the perfect way to start. The atmosphere is the protective cocoon around the earth, and is a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
It keeps us warm through the naturally occurring greenhouse effect . The atmosphere also protects us from ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and acts as insulation, reducing the variations in temperature between day and night.
As the global population has increased, and industry has grown, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased . These are known as anthropogenic carbon emissions.
Carbon dioxide is known as a greenhouse gas, which adds to the natural greenhouse effect, and has been linked with climate change and increasing global temperatures.
Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have varied throughout geological history, and climate change sceptics argue that the CO2 we are putting into the atmosphere isn’t making any difference.
The Skeptical Science website writers rebut the sceptics’ argument so much better than I can, so I will leave it to them …
Even if carbon dioxide levels are not adding to climate change, as the sceptics argue, there is still a finite amount of fossil fuel on the planet, and producing burning fossil fuel releases a lot of pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, including methane and nitrous oxide.
This means that there is still a very strong argument for reducing energy use and finding cleaner sources of fuel, keeping the earth cleaner, if not greener.
B is for….
…battery. Batteries store energy, and we have batteries in so many things – cameras, phones, iPods, computers, radios, clocks – you name it, it will probably have a battery in it.
Batteries contain heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. These are toxic to people and bioaccumulate in animals, and so should be kept out of landfill.
Battery suppliers now have to provide collection points for used batteries, or addresses to send used batteries. These can then be recycled and the heavy metals and other components reused.
Rechargeable batteries cut down on pollutants because they can be reused many times – they should still be recycled at the end of their life. You can even recharge batteries from your computer.
Rechargeable batteries fuel electric cars – however, these are currently very heavy and expensive, and have a limited range . They also can have a high environmental impact. New lithium-ion batteries may have potential to reduce this impact; however, it will still be important to make sure that batteries are recycled correctly .
Suzanne Elvidge is a freelance writer and the Surefish Ethical Living Editor