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Study Notes

Human Intervention in the Carbon Cycle and Mitigating the Impacts of Climate Change

AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 12 Aug 2017

Increasing anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, alongside the increase in agricultural processes and transport have increased the warming effect of the atmosphere.

Levels of carbon dioxide are increased further by deforestation to provide land for agriculture and for housing.  This reduces the carbon store potential and releases stored biosphere carbon to the atmosphere.

There are three main mitigation strategies in response to the impacts of climate change:

1. Reducing carbon emissions through low carbon technology – prioritising renewable energy resources, recycling, minimising energy use and implementing energy conservation measures. Agreed international caps, protocols and laws to stabilise, then reduce atmospheric carbon emissions.  Carbon trading schemes reward emitters that reduce carbon emissions and penalise those that continue to release CO2. These can include both enforced and voluntary measures.

2. Carbon capture through reforestation (planting on cleared forest land) and afforestation (planting on land that hasn’t previously had forest) schemes. Some carbon trading schemes pay land-owners to plant forests to absorb the equivalent of CO2 that is released by emitters elsewhere on the planet.

3. Carbon capture when fossil fuels are burnt and the emission gas is artificially sequestered (buried) in underground rocks, such as depleted oil and gas fields.

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