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Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Biochemistry & Molecular Biol.

First Advisor

Dr. Raymond Dominey

Second Advisor

Dr. Emma Goldman


The importance of energy in modern society makes energy research and developments essential and significant. We use energy in almost all of our daily habits, from heating water and talking on the phone to driving a car and working on a computer. The current global rate of energy consumption has reached 14terawatts, and this number is expected to increase to 24 terawatts by the year 2050. Of this energy consumption, about eighty percent comes from carbon-based sources, such as oil, gas, and coal, with oil alone responsible for about thirty-five percent. When burned to produce energy, these carbon-based resources give off gaseous carbon dioxide, which is then released into the atmosphere. Effectively, our atmosphere constantly receives a continuous influx of carbon dioxide. The average lifetime of an atmospheric carbon dioxide molecule is about 3500 years. This results in an ever-increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What does this mean for the Earth’s atmosphere? Is it bad? Is it good? Is it possible for the atmosphere to have too much carbon dioxide? Does the amount of atmospheric CO2 even matter? There are several theories, but we do not yet know the answers.