Who Will Utilize the Vulcan Project?
Carbon Scientists perform research to find out what happens when humans interfere with the environment by pumping more CO2 into the environment than it can handle.
Typically, before the human influence of industrial activities and deforestation, the global carbon cycle was in relative balance. The oceans exchanged approximately 90 billion tons of carbon per year with the atmosphere, and the atmosphere exchanged around 120 billion tons of carbon a year with the biosphere, or land. With the introduction of humans into the system, approximately 8 billion tons of CO2 are being emitted into the system, but only 3 billion is being taken in by the atmosphere, leaving the remaining 5 billion unaccounted for at this point.
Then it became known around 2 billion tons of carbon per year is being pumped into the oceans due to something known as Henry’s Law, where if you bring a concentration of soluble gases over a water, some of that will dissolve into the fluid. So there is an accounting for where this portion of CO2 gas emissions goes.
The remaining three were discovered was being introduced into the biosphere. This portion is known as the “missing sink," which basically means we do not know why this is occurring nor the mechanisms involved.
That being said, the research does reach a conclusion that if the CO2 concentration reaches a certain threshold or tipping point, the environmental consequences of the outcomes are rather concerning. Thus, the importance of the Vulcan Project to account for CO2 emissions from various specific areas of the system, i.e. – power plants, highway activity, deforestation, farming, etc.
Accounting for whatever is occurring with the missing sink, if this were to weaken or saturate, it could double the amount of CO2 being retained by the atmosphere. This would make CO2 concentrations much worse than they are currently. Learning what is occurring here is important to know when it comes to the evolution of CO2 emissions.
Policy Makers – currently, there are bills in place to provide regulatory legislation for regional greenhouse gas emissions. Right now, policy makers have only a blunt tool at their command- because they have no real idea of the location these emissions in the system.
That being said, the Vulcan project will provide policy makers a more precise instrument, or a metaphorical “scalpel," to pinpoint when, where, and why these emissions are happening.
Basically, there are places that are not averse to beneficial regulation (even if it hurts in the short run), but they’d like to avoid the entire legislative process, which can prolong results. By providing Vulcan usage data to the policy makers, this tool can indeed give specifics to help gain a keen eye into getting legislation done effectively.
The Public – the Vulcan project provides a great way for the public to understand the source of CO2 emissions by using an already familiar Google maps interface.