SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The greenhouse gas Carbon Dioxide has been getting a lot of heat in the press lately, but did you know that it’s delicious?
Carbon Dioxide is an invisible gas, yet we see it every day.
We even drink it.
It’s in the hiss-pop-sizzle you hear when you twist the cap off of a soda pop. It’s the reason your tongue burns when you take that first sip of your favorite cola.
It’s the tiny bubbles that dance in your club soda.
Mankind has been drinking carbonated beverages for thousands of years, but did you know that when you pop the top on a soda can you are listening to the sound of gas bubbles rushing to reach our atmosphere?
Carbon Dioxide is the reason we call carbonated beverages “carbon-ated beverages”—as in carbon is in the beverage.
But carbonated soda was not invented by mankind. Carbonated beverages were repeatedly discovered by our species at the countless carbonated mineral springs that are found across the world.
That’s right. The bubbly, stinging tingle that hits your tongue when you take a gulp of cola is not a modern invention at all. That sweet, burning taste is a feeling that mankind has been experiencing for thousands of years.
But to understand these concepts, we’ll need to take a deep dive into the history of carbonated sodas.
Galvanina: a carbonated-mineral-water spring in ancient Rome
Water management was no problem for ancient Romans, as we know by examining the archeological excavations of bathhouses and other epic waterworks.
At the peak of San Lorenzo Mountain in modern-day Italy, ancient Romans built a bathhouse around an unusual water source: an all-natural, carbonated mineral water spring.
We now know that bathing in carbonated water has therapeutic benefits. Ancient Romans understood that the bubbly, fizzy water was good for human health. But the ancient Romans weren’t the only drinkers of carbonated spring water in the old world. Hannibal supposedly stopped to get a drink from a spring near modern-day Vergeze, France after his army defeated the Romans in 218 B.C.
Hannibal’s sip of water bubbled and ticked his tongue, and by the 1860s Napoleon agreed to allow the development of Hannibal’s spring. In 1903 an investor renamed the spring Perrier.
Today, carbonated waters from Perrier are placed in green glass bottles that are shaped like clubs, which have a story all its own, and Perrier received the title of the first sparkling natural mineral water imported into the United States.
Carbonated mineral springs aren’t limited to Italy and France. There are carbonated water springs in Idaho, too, of all places. If you are interested in seeing them, visit Octagon Springs, Hooper Springs, or Lover’s Delight.
And stop by to see Soda Springs, too, which came into existence when men were digging a water well and accidentally created a soda water geyser.
Oh, and one other interesting tidbit: Alka Seltzer bubbles are also carbon dioxide.
So with all these carbonated beverages, are we releasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every time we take a drink, or storing excess carbon dioxide in the bottles we haven’t opened?
And is it possible for us to store enough carbon dioxide in Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, and other fizzy drink bottles to make a difference in climate change?
Can carbonated beverages save the world?
Did you know that one share of Coca-Cola, purchased in 1919, would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars today? And just as shares of Coca-Cola stock can rise slowly across the span of decades, so, too, can the shares of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
An Apr. 17, 2008 copy of Time Magazine explained that carbonated drinks contain the exact same carbon that spews out of tailpipes and power plants. In fact, the carbonation in your favorite beverages is often collected at power plants.
When we speak of ‘carbon captures’ and hypothesize about pulling carbon out of the atmosphere to store it somewhere that won’t cause a climate catastrophe, we don’t typically talk about canned drinks. But carbonated beverages are a way of temporarily storing carbon dioxide.
Carbon Dioxide, like everything else, is good in moderation. But with the parts per million in our atmosphere climbing higher and higher on the charts every year, it’s important for humans to figure out ways to reduce carbon emissions and remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
So, is it possible for us to sequester enough carbon dioxide in Coke, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, and Sprite cans to save the planet? Yes, but it would be an awkward situation for all involved.
In order to get carbon emissions back in check using carbonated sodas, scientists estimate we would need to cover the entire earth with ten layers of canned, carbonated sodas.
That’s a lot.
So the next time you enjoy a carbonated beverage, remember the fascinating history and science behind those delightful bubbles.
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