The inevitable CO2 emissions question - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-22-2014, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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The inevitable CO2 emissions question

So I was talking to a friend the other day explaining how I want to step up my game with pressurized CO2 and they were like "you mean CO2 as in the stuff everyone in the world is talking about needing to REDUCE emissions of...".

So...are we aquarists horrible contributors to global warming, or is what we are putting into the air insignificant? I wonder for example how many kms in my car I have to drive to equate to a 5lb cylinder of aquarium CO2....
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-22-2014, 11:21 PM
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I'm too lazy to look up all the info right now, but off the top of my head, I imagine that using about 1 gallon of gasoline/petrol in your vehicle probably produces more CO2 then what's in your 5 lb tank.

That's probably a very conservative estimate, as most of the weight in CO2 is from the oxygen, where as most of the weight in gasoline is from the carbon, so it could be far less then a gallon.

Also, I don't think any resources are being used exclusively to generate CO2, I'm fairly certain it's captured as a byproduct from other industrial-scale processes. In other words, if you weren't pumping it through your tank, it would just be getting released to the atmosphere instead.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be dismissive about emissions and climate change and such, I just don't think our hobby really adds much compared to normal residential sources (which pale in comparison to industrial sources).

Also, it's good to think about these things and just be more aware and such.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-22-2014, 11:25 PM
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Our CO2 tanks are filled from the atmosphere. Any CO2 we release was already in gaseous form to begin with.

We are growing plants with the CO2 which is a net benefit. We have taken CO2 from the atmosphere and turned it into plants. (Obviously on a very small scale, and any plant growth we discard will decompose back into CO2).

Finally, the typical car produces on the order of 10 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.


Your friend likely exhaled more CO2 by asking this question than we inject into our tank over an entire day.


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Last edited by 691175002; 09-22-2014 at 11:45 PM. Reason: a
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 01:11 AM
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The amount of CO2 we add to our tanks is far less than you produce. You exhale around a kilogram a day. Not to mention the CO2 produced by the "burgers" you eat. Skip a few burgers and you're good for life lol. In short, insignificant.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 01:56 AM
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If I've read correctly in researching how they get co2 into those bottles, we actually help a tiny bit by giving companies a reason to filter co2 from emissions and compress it. We just slowly release it back into the air instead at millions of tons per day.


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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 03:49 PM
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In all likelihood the process of making the glass for your aquarium probably released more CO2 than your dedicated CO2 system will release in the next five years.

I wouldn't fear a little rise in atmospheric CO2. Everyone got all uppity when atmospheric CO2 hit 400 ppm. Guys, in the last 100 million years atmospheric CO2 was as high as 4000 ppm. Somehow the environmentalists always forget to mention that little bit of perspective.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not denying the fact that climate change happens. Its ALWAYS happened.

Wanna do something good for the environment? Make fewer babies. (I'm not directing that at any one person, I'm directing that at everyone, male and female) The world is full. If there were only 100 million of us we could all live like kings. As it is, we're having to ravage the land just to produce enough food for everyone.

We need to be good stewards of the environment. But we need to pay attention to the things that really matter. Don't worry about your 5 lb CO2 cylinder. It is a drop in a cosmic ocean.

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 03:53 PM
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The whole idea is to get the co2 into your PLANTS!
any excess is a waste of money.... But as an aside, one cylinder of co2 lasts me over a year - the same cylinder lasts 10 minutes on my welder..... Worry not!
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 05:28 PM
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As stated above, the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere from a pressurized CO2 plant fertilization system is negligible.

That said, the aquarium hobby does have a significant environmental footprint.

The high powered lighting, water heaters, and pumps all running between 12-24 hours a day use up an enormous amount of energy. For the vast majority of hobbyists, this energy is produced through the combustion of fossil fuels. Forget pressurized CO2 canisters - this energy usage can leave an aquarium owner with a significantly higher than average carbon footprint.

In addition to climate change, aquarium owners are guilty of astronomical water waste. I am often shocked reading how often users on this site make water changes in the neighborhood of hundreds of gallons per week, sometimes while living in states which are experiencing severe water shortages.

Finally, it should be mentioned that some of the most destructive aquatic invasive species around the world have been spread by careless, selfish aquarium owners. Even after extensive press coverage on the damage caused by invasive species introduced by pet owners, hobbyists around the United States continue to threaten our local ecology by purchasing fish which are illegal or unethical to own.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 05:31 PM
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The CO2 for industrial use is actually made through a chemical reaction but like others have said, it's far less the produced from living creatures and industrial waste.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZillionGuppies View Post

I wouldn't fear a little rise in atmospheric CO2. Everyone got all uppity when atmospheric CO2 hit 400 ppm. Guys, in the last 100 million years atmospheric CO2 was as high as 4000 ppm. Somehow the environmentalists always forget to mention that little bit of perspective.
Unneeded shot at environmentalists and by proxy climate scientists. As a scientist myself, this type of attitude is the problem why we aren't dealing with this issue. I would suggest reading up on current climate research if you want to understand this issue, and please read people who do this for a living. BTW, how many humans were around when atmospheric CO2 was 4000 ppm?

As for the OP, no, your 5lb CO2 tank isn't going to cause any problems.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 06:49 PM
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I agree with most of what TyrannosaurusSex said.

However I think some of those views should be tempered with context:

Wasted water from water changes: A lot of aquarium owners, myself included, use the old aquarium water to water their yard. In my house not one drop of old aquarium water ever sees a municipal drain. And I'm sure it is that way for the majority of aquarium keepers. If you have a yard and you water it then that water was going to be used anyway.

Some parts of the country do have water shortages, some have an excess falling from the sky. I'd say do what is appropriate in your region.

+1 on the invasive species bit. That's probably the worst environmental offender over a time period of ~100,000 years or so.

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 07:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZillionGuppies View Post
I agree with most of what TyrannosaurusSex said.

However I think some of those views should be tempered with context:

Wasted water from water changes: A lot of aquarium owners, myself included, use the old aquarium water to water their yard. In my house not one drop of old aquarium water ever sees a municipal drain. And I'm sure it is that way for the majority of aquarium keepers. If you have a yard and you water it then that water was going to be used anyway.

Some parts of the country do have water shortages, some have an excess falling from the sky. I'd say do what is appropriate in your region.

+1 on the invasive species bit. That's probably the worst environmental offender over a time period of ~100,000 years or so.
That's totally valid. I won't get into the environmental impact of having a lawn here, but I suppose if you're going to have one anyway, water changes are a non-issue.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 07:12 PM
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What I said about people's perception of atmospheric CO2 was germane to this thread and not an "unneeded shot" The interaction that precipitated this thread was a conversation about CO2 levels.

Nobody ever bothers to put into perspective numbers like 400 ppm atmospheric CO2. All anyone ever reports is: "atmospheric CO2 levels are higher than ever..." Context matters. Reporting numbers without context is decidedly unscientific.

"BTW, how many humans were around when atmospheric CO2 was 4000 ppm?" To the best of my knowledge, no humans were around at the time. And all the animals got along just fine.

"....this type of attitude is the problem why we aren't dealing with this issue." We ARE dealing with "this issue" but we've been relying on fossil fuels for more than a century. It's going to take a while to turn this ship around.

The real problem is we have 7 billion people on this planet and they all want to be fed three times a day (that takes a LOT of energy) and more than half of them expect the lights to come on at the flick of a switch.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TyrannosaurusSex View Post
That's totally valid. I won't get into the environmental impact of having a lawn here, but I suppose if you're going to have one anyway, water changes are a non-issue.
You're absolutely right about the environmental impact of a lawn. I would have preferred flora that grows naturally in my area. Alas, I made the mistake of buying a house in a neighborhood with a homeowner's association. That's the last time my wife and I ever buy a home with a homeowner's association!

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZillionGuppies View Post
What I said about people's perception of atmospheric CO2 was germane to this thread and not an "unneeded shot" The interaction that precipitated this thread was a conversation about CO2 levels.

Nobody ever bothers to put into perspective numbers like 400 ppm atmospheric CO2. All anyone ever reports is: "atmospheric CO2 levels are higher than ever..." Context matters. Reporting numbers without context is decidedly unscientific.

"BTW, how many humans were around when atmospheric CO2 was 4000 ppm?" To the best of my knowledge, no humans were around at the time. And all the animals got along just fine.
Yeah, but they were really different animals.

The organisms on the planet now are adapted to survive with a certain climate. If that climate changes faster than natural selection can keep up, mass extinction will follow. For example, if atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise, the amount of dissolved CO2 in the ocean will go up, increasing acidity and leading to the extinction of all if not most shellfish, coral, and organism which depend on shellfish and coral, as well as organisms which depend on organisms which depend on shellfish etc. As average global temperature goes up, ecosystems around the world will fail. When the delicate balance between weather, climate, and ecology is disrupted, the world will experience drought in some places, floods in others, and agricultural production will be severely reduced.

For the record, no one ever says "CO2 levels are higher than they've ever been". I have never heard that. What journalists, scientists, and activists DO say, is that "CO2 levels are higher than they have ever been in recorded history". That does not include "100 million years ago", so cool your outrage.

Bump
Just to give you an idea of how long ago 100 million years ago was.
Whales only evolved 50 million years ago.
Flowing plants evolved 150 million years ago.

This is what things looked like 100 million years ago:

It might be hard to notice, but none of the things in that illustration exist anymore.

Last edited by Bananableps; 09-23-2014 at 07:40 PM. Reason: additional information
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 07:37 PM
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Isn't all the CO2 in our cylinders a by-product of industrial activities
(petroleum refinery, alcoholic beverage, etc.)? We're just recycling
the waste...
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