Carbon dioxide bathtub
A bathtub is often used as an analogy for the accumulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.
CO2 is added to the atmosphere via the "faucet" and "drains" from the "bathtub" into "sinks" such as the ocean, plants and soil.
Prior to the industrial revolution, it drained out at the same rate as it flowed in. As a result, the level of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere remained steady. This pre-industrial level was around 280 parts per million (ppm). This may seem small but was just right to keep the global temperature in the comfortable range that allowed humanity and many animal and plant species to evolve.
During the industrial revolution we started burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil. These added more CO2 to the atmosphere. Even worse, the rate at which CO2 is being added is increasing and the rate at which it drains out has remained more or less the same. (Imagine what would happen if you left the faucets on your bathtub fully open. Soon you would have a flood.)
We have used CO2 in the graphic but it would be more accurate to use CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent, which includes other greenhouse gases in addition to CO2.)
Many scientists have determined that a safe level of CO2e should be less than 350 ppm. However, some international agreements set a target of 450 ppm (which is now considered dangerous.)
Each year, the level of CO2e is rising by around 2 ppm. As of January, 2012 the accumulated CO2e in the atmosphere was around 393 ppm. For the current level click here.
For an extensive explanation of the bathtub model see http://climateinteractive.org/simulations/bathtub
- End of Tasmania's forest peace deal heralds more uncertainty
- The Weekend Wonk: Toxic Algae, Water, and Climate Change
- We Are Groot
- Coalition's environmental one-stop shop is falling apart
- Global 'roadmap' shows where to put roads without costing the earth
- Climate Scientists Spell Out Stark Danger And Immorality Of Inaction In New Leaked Report
- Iowa Senate Nominee Says The Koch Network ‘Started My Trajectory’
- Hawaii’s Largest Utility Announces Plan To Triple Rooftop Solar By 2030
- How A New Group Is Helping Nonprofits In West Virginia Get Solar Panels For Just $1
- VIDEO: EVERYONE. EVERYWHERE. PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MOBILISATION.
Recent blog posts
- Are we all living in denial?
- Canada’s GHGs dropping in most sectors except for Alberta oilpatch, says report
- Another failure in Doha?
- Dear Canada
- Young Voices for the Planet
- Another 350.org rally against the Keystone XL pipeline
- Melting icecap puts Europe’s woes in perspective
- Is my anger justified?
- Submission to Northern Gateway pipeline review panel
- Global warming is depressing. Like Conservatives, why not ignore it?
Did you know ...
that you can save water and reduce your carbon footprint by taking short navy showers?
- Risky climate policy
- Air quality data to Government of Alberta: your move (blog)
- Net-zero beautiful: How design and location can reduce your energy footprint (blog)
- Abandoning Arctic offshore drilling safety requirement will put species and habitat at risk
- Pembina reacts to Alberta report on oilsands air pollution (media release)
- Inside The International Climate Treaty Negotiations
- Keystone XL Pipeline Carbon Emissions Top 100 Million Tons a Year
- Sewage treatment debate causes a stink
- Net-zero 101: The incredible rapid rise of net-zero homes (blog)
- Canada has a bright future in green energy, success stories show (blog)
Science behind climate change
- State Dept. Overseers of Contentious Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline Workaround Have Industry, Torture Ties
- 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #35A
- Climate Change: the Terminological Timeline
- Mount Polley: A Wake-Up Call For Canada’s Mining Industry
- Florida Governor Rick Scott Meets With Climate Scientists, Learns Nothing
- Athabasca Glacier: a tragic vanishing act
- Oil Industry Front Group Sets Sights On Santa Barbara County Measure That Would Ban “Extreme Oil Extraction”
- Judge Nixes Cove Point LNG Zoning Permit as Dominion Says Will Soon Receive Federal Permit
- Controversial Coal Export Terminal Green-Lighted at Fraser Surrey Docks
- BP Wins Big In Offshore Oil Drilling Lease Auction