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The Mysterious Mechanism of Climate Change

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By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer

Climate Change will affect all living creatures on earth if allowed to go unchecked. But here’s the strange thing: Climate Change was caused by the first living things to appear on earth!

Many millions of years ago the young earth was a hot and smelly place. Volcanoes belched Hydrogen Sulphide. And then a strange and very wonderful thing happened. A green substance called Chlorophyll appeared on the earth. It was probably brought in by a crashing meteorite and it had special properties. It could break carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen using the power of sunlight. We visualise great rafts of oceanic plants pumping out clouds of oxygen into earth’s atmosphere and also shading and cooling the ocean.

Consequently, many smaller plants could not get the energy and nutrition they needed. Their only option was to become parasites. The ancestors of all animals, including us, could have resembled Physarum Polycephalum – Slime Mould. This tiny creature changes its form to assume plant-like features when it wishes to reproduce by releasing spores.  In fact many of these slime moulds come together to become a single plant-like creature.

Meanwhile the first sea plants had been washed ashore. Those exposed to the harsh heat and light of the shore could not survive. But those washed into tidal creeks did live. Here they began to develop a vascular system like our own network of veins and arteries. Only then would they be able to sustain their lives in the drier inland areas. But plants have no hearts so they used another system to pump nutritious fluids to their highest branches. They developed two parallel systems of semi-porous tubes. When such pipelines touch each other, fluid from one pipeline with the greater concentration of nutrition seeps into its neighbour. This is like people in a crowded train compartment moving to a less congested one. This is called osmosis. And to sustain this difference, plants shed moisture from their leaves.

Every tree has many wonderful life-supporting, solar-powered mechanisms. It breaks up our exhaling, and suffocating carbon dioxide into Carbon and Oxygen. We and all animals need Oxygen. Trees also draw water from deep underground and let it fall gently from their leaves. Their foliage absorbs the force of a deluge and lets it sink into the soil. And its roots bind the soil in a tough web. So what happens when we destroy these guardians of the earth? There is a depletion of available oxygen. Our ground-water resources are not recharged. The land dries and becomes a desert. The heat rising from the desert cannot escape into space because of the green house gases.

Beyond the desert, the heat from human activities in cities and factories is also reflected back to earth by the green house gases.

When these gases overheat, the earth ice caps melt, the sea level rises. Summers get hotter and hotter. Forests get tinder dry and fires rage. Columns of heated air change the wind patterns. Typhoons roar in from the sea. Tornadoes sweep across the land. Widespread death and destruction follow. And because wood is largely carbon, the amount of carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere gets denser.

Now that you have been with us as we have allowed our minds to flee into uncharted territories, here are some hard facts gleaned from expert sources.

  • The main greenhouse gasses are Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide.
  • The level of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere has been rising consistently for decades.
  • Greenhouse gases are produced by burning fuels for power or heat, through chemical reactions and from leaks from industrial processes or equipment.
  • In one year a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange.
  • Wood is approximately 50% carbon by dry weight.
  • Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants use sunlight to synthesize nutrients from carbon dioxide and water.

Millions of years ago climate change started the process that brought mankind into existence. Now we are reversing it to cause our own extinction.

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)