Which gas is strongly absorbed by charcoal


CO2-Concentration in ppm


Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colorless and odorless gas, which is an important part of the global carbon cycle. Atmospheric CO acts through its ability to absorb thermal radiation2 as a so-called greenhouse or climate gas. Without the presence of an atmosphere (with the greenhouse gases occurring in it), the average temperature on the earth's surface would be around -18 ° C. This natural greenhouse effect, in which the greenhouse gas water vapor also plays a decisive role, contributes to the fact that there is a life-giving climate on earth today.

Historical development

The CO2-Concentration in the atmosphere has fluctuated frequently in the course of → Earth's history. In the recent history of the earth, i.e. in the time when Homo sapiens lived, the CO2-Content reached a relatively constant state. According to measurements from ice cores, the CO was2-Concentration never exceeded 300 ppm (parts per million) in the past 800,000 years. Compared to the entire Holocene, the CO2-Concentration in the atmosphere has risen sharply. This is primarily due to the burning of the fossil fuels coal, crude oil and natural gas as well as the extensive → deforestation and → conversion of these areas into agricultural landscapes since the beginning of industrialization. The greenhouse gas CO is responsible for around 75% of man-made climate change2 as the main cause of → global warming.

The main CO2-Swell

The fossil carbon carriers coal, crude oil and natural gas were formed and deposited over the course of millions of years (→ geological history) and thus withdrawn from the carbon cycle. Burning the fossil carbon emits CO2 free, which is now fed back into the atmosphere at a speed that is unique in human history.

Forests are among the largest natural carbon stores on earth. Their → deforestation also ensures that the carbon accumulated in the trees and forest floors is converted into CO2 got into the atmosphere.

To stop global warming, there should be no more carbon (C) in the form of CO in the long term2 get into the atmosphere than is stored in plants and soil at the same time.

The 1.5 degree goal

In the World Climate Agreement in Paris at the end of 2015, the UN community of states stipulated under international law that man-made global warming should be limited to 1.5 ° C compared to pre-industrial values. So far, the → temperature at the earth's surface has increased by around 1 ° C. In order not to exceed the remaining 0.5 ° C, a maximum of 280 gigatons of CO2 get into the atmosphere, as calculated by the Carbon Tracker Initiative.

The known deposits of oil, coal and gas owned by corporations and states are equivalent to about 3,200 gigatons of CO2. The monetary value of these fossil energy reserves is estimated at 24 trillion euros. To achieve the 1.5 degree target, more than 90% of these resources have to stay where they are: in the ground. The success of the world climate treaty will therefore depend on an exit from investments (Divestment) depend on the fossil energy industry.


Carbon Tracker Initiative (2013): Unburnable Carbon - Are the world's financial markets carrying a carbon bubble? London.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - IPCC (2013): Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

Lüthi, D. et al. (2008): High-resolution carbon dioxide concentration record 650,000–800,000 years before present. In: Nature. (453), 379-382.

Niebert, K. (2016). Climate change cannot be negotiated with. In J. Sommer & M. Müller (eds.), Below 2 degrees ?: What the world climate treaty really brings. Hirzel, 255-265.

Steffen, W., Broadgate, W., Deutsch, L., Gaffney, O., & Ludwig, C. (2015): The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration. The Anthropocene Review, 2 (1), 81-98.