I have written several articles the environment. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address different aspects on the environment and the planet in general
Throughout our planet’s history major catastrophic events have radically altered our environment and have caused near global extinctions. It is a widely known fact that more animal species have become extinct than currently exist in our world. Many of these climate changes have been caused by asteroid impacts with the earth. The environment during the age of the dinosaur was warmer by several degrees, the polar ice caps were smaller, the level of CO2 was higher r/t heavy volcanic activity. The concentration of Oxygen increased from 15 to 19%. It is currently at 21%. These changes occurred rapidly in geological terms, over several millions of years. Other events have major effects on the global weather pattern. One is an event that occurs roughly every 26,000 years and may coincide with our ice ages. This phenomenon is known as Earth Wobble. This wobble, also known as precession and is caused by the gravity of the sun and moon pulling on Earth’s equatorial bulges. The tilt of the earth doesn’t change, but its orientation does change. Over the last 2.5 million years, we have experienced 50 major ice ages. During this time the levels of CO2 was much lower. All these changes have occurred prior to the advent of man and the industrial revolution, and these changes will continue to occur regardless of our present activities.
Over the last 600,000 years the previous high for CO2 levels was roughly 280 parts per million and with lows of 200 parts per million during the ice ages. We are currently at over 380 parts per million. The only time we have seen levels this high, were during the formative periods of the earth. Modern man has been on this earth around 20,000 years. We arose from the cro-magnon man. During the most recent ice age the neanderthal man roamed the earth. The warming of the climate and the end of the ice age saw the demise of this race. It is postulated that they did not completely became extinct but were assimilated into the more dominant cro-magnon population.
I have shown that our climate has been affected by external as well as internal events. Climate change can be gradual, occurring over millions of years, or occur quite rapidly, over just a few years. The changes created by man have been a little more gradual, taking place over the typical lifespan of an average human. You may wonder how we know what the climate was like before recorded history? We can gain this knowledge by gathering core samples of the glaciers in Antarctica. Everybody has heard of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. And through the work of Gregor Mendel we know how this takes place through the study of genetics. Animal species either adapt or become extinct. Animal species that become too specialized are much more sensitive to climatic and environmental changes, while generalist type species tend to be more adaptable and successful as a species. A case in point is the polar bear, the majority of the bears protein intake is from seals caught during the winter months. With the winter season becoming shorter, they are having less time to hunt and build up there fat stores. There is hope for the polar bear, though, in recent years we have discovered what appears to almost be a new species of bear. The fur color is somewhere between the white of the polar bear and the brown color of the kodiak bear. The animal kingdom can adapt to change, provided they are given time to make these adaptations.
With the increase of the global temperature, the polar caps are shrinking. It is believed that larger ice caps help keep the planet’s temperature lower, because the white surface reflects sunlight. With the shrinking of the ice caps, the oceans increase in size. The ocean’s are darker and therefore will absorb the heat from the sun. Plant life absorbs CO2 and produces O2 as a bi-product of photosynthesis. The oceans also help by absorbing CO2 as well. What I don’t believe has been taken into account is that with our oceans increasing in size, so to will its ability to absorb CO2. This should help to slow down the affects of global warming.
We as the dominant species of the planet have a responsibility to the rest of its inhabitants. We need to take care of our home. Instead of treating it like a place with unlimited resources, we need to treat it like its resources are finite. Our activities do matter. If you need an example of global warming out of control, you need to look no further than our sister planet Venus. Its atmosphere’s CO2 concentration is greater that 96%, its surface temperature is 863 degrees Farenheit, much higher than Mercury even though it is closer to the Sun. We are a species known for our ingenuity and creativity, we have even attained periods of greatness. If we can put aside our differences and work together we can reverse this trend and save our planet.