Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere

The mariner was reading one of his touchstone websites http://esciencenews.com/ when he came across an article about the effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It turns out that there is little trace of dinosaurs in the tropics. The only life in the tropics was small predecessors of alligators and crocodiles.

This was due to the high fluctuations in weather, going from extended periods of drought and devastating fires to extended periods of wetness. Most dinosaurs were unable to survive the variability and stayed away from the tropics.

The carbon in the atmosphere was six times what it is now. For reference, that is 2,400 parts per million 200 million years ago and 400 parts per million today. Nevertheless, we have an insight as to how weather patterns will slowly change as carbon levels increase. The Amazon rain forest is in the tropics….

A closer analysis that comes from current data suggests that energy in the atmosphere will continue to grow in coming decades. This means weather will have more severe differences between high pressure systems and low pressure systems. Further, big storms like hurricanes, monsoons and shear wind speeds (along with the accompanying tornadoes) will occur more frequently and more intensely.

The weather in Texas and Oklahoma (where much fossil fuel is produced – is there poetic justice here?) this year is not a measure of long term consequences. Individuals often mistake one year’s activity as a trend (consider Jim Inhofe throwing a snowball in Congress, suggesting that global warming is a myth).

But the warning flags are up. It will take a long time to bring together enough nations to control Big Oil. It will take decades. All the while, carbon builds in the atmosphere. Even if we humans can live with it (have you seen news clips that show Chinese citizens wearing breathing masks?), the creatures in the oceans cannot. Carbon Dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere by the ocean. The ocean can only absorb so much Carbon Dioxide before acidity becomes a destructive environment. Coral reefs already are dying at an alarming rate; reefs are the source of life for literally millions of creatures in the oceans.

The mariner, a lover of the ocean and all that is in it, fears the indifference of Homo sapiens. He knows if the oceans die, humans will be extinct. Don’t let computers and technology fool the reader – the Earth is in charge.

Ancient Mariner

Leave a Reply