Let me tell you a story about this beautiful blue planet we call Earth, (GAIA), and our home that we all inhabit.
It was born some 4.5 billion years ago according to scientists; they also conclude that this was a hot and fiery, a world full of volcanic eruptions, lava flows and constantly under the threat of meteor bombardment. A very hostile environment uninhabitable to human’s be-fitting of Hades himself.
A story of human’s selfish behaviour towards his environment not to mention all the other animals, creatures and plants that also inhabit the Earth.
Sooner or later humans will have to answer for the treatment of the Earth and their gross negligence as custodians of planet; at some point in the not too distant future fossil fuels will no doubt come to an end, CO2’s are effecting the Ozone Layer, As the Greenhouse Effect takes a tight grip as Climate Change is becoming more prominent and headline news, what seems like now a daily occurrence. We will no longer be able to feed our populations in the future as people begin to live longer and longer. The global water table will inevitably rise, which spells disaster for most of our big cities, we are under a distant but constant threat of meteor strikes as the window of opportunity is approximately right, comets, asteroids and the list goes on. It’s a never ending cycle of doom and gloom! And in the end the Sun will eventually no longer shine and that is a FACT!
I am not a preacher and this isn’t Sunday school or a Sermon, but the truth is we all breathe the same air no matter where we call home, whether it is in a big city like London or a mud hut on the plains of the Serengeti.
The cause and effect of our actions on one continent slowly but surely affects the equilibrium in another part of the globe. Everyday hardworking man/woman, the 9 to 5 Joe’s of this world living in the big city, doesn’t care what happens in Antarctica nor is he concerned about the welfare of elephants being slaughtered for their tusks in remote parts of Africa.
Much less a few million trees being felled to make way for a new farm or road in the Amazon. Is this an ignorant attitude to have or just survival of the fittest mode at work? I personally think actually this is possibly a bit of both!
We mostly only really care about what actually directly affects us as individuals or our immediate families. For instance if that tree is felled in the Brazilian rain forest, you would ask yourself, why would it cause me to lose any sleep? As we go about our daily lives living in big cities. The truth is it does but not so you would notice at first. The effect is slow although it seems to be getting more and more extreme.
Climate Change, now there’s one from the archives, has been going on since the world had its early fiery beginnings. Let just go through its history quickly, the fact is the Earth began with no atmosphere at all, it was covered in fire, lava flows and meteor strikes were a constant hazard known to us now as the Hadean eon named in memory of the God Hades a Greek term for Hell, a period where the was no Ozone layer and the outcome of these effects on the planet were to leave it dry, extremely hot and seriously un-welcoming to anyone unlucky enough to see it.
By Tim Bertelink - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48916334
From Hadean to Archaean the first signs of early life in the form of Chert a bacterium traces of which were found in formations of early rock and dated to approximately 3.6 - 3.7 Billion years ago. This is when we are told the first early oceans and sea started to form. Methane and Carbon dioxide were in abundance and dominated the early land masses which start forming into Continents. There is oxygen but not as you’d see it today and certainly not enough to support you nor I.
Towards the end of the eon we start to see blue green algae start to appear throughout the oceans and seas in the form of Cyanobacteria, a kind of primordial sludge, this is the period when dynamic changes are starting to affect the Earth as Cyanobacteria thrived on Carbon dioxide and through photosynthesis started changing the planet’s atmosphere very slowly but surely at first into Oxygen which as a matter of fact is vital for our form of life.
The Proterozoic eon is next in line, translated to “the time of early life” and possibly the longest eon lasting some 2 Billion odd years. During this period, oceans & seas are now Oxygen rich and there are much more complex and diverse life forms starting to appear on both land and at sea, these early creatures are mostly without bone structure like jellyfish and worms.
We also see signs of the first known glaciations to occur according to geologist, they confirm this with the discovery of Tillites broken rock boulders which were transported and distributed by glaciers across the globe, some scientists theorise and have called this the Snow Ball Earth effect.
By Stephen Hudson - Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1557321
We then enter as I like to call it the quickening, the old, middle and modern era’s known as the Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic era’s, for these cover the last 550 million years of Earth’s history, which bring us to modern day, where we actually see the most dramatic changes taking place.
During the Palaeozoic era we have the periods known as Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian. During these periods we see marine creatures form bony structures. Photosynthesis from plants, which are in abundance now, increase the Earth s oxygen. The first major extinction also occurs, there are many theories as to what triggered it, but the result is another global ice age and continental glaciation.
At the end of the Devonian and the start of the Carboniferous periods a second extinction level event occurs. Which wipes out approximately 75% of all creatures on the planet, again there are many theories as to what happened but is said to have coincided with large sheets of ice forming around the Polar Region.
The Carboniferous period is humid and hot as warmer climates return to the continents. Plants and vegetation grew and flourished in the hot humid and wet conditions. The Earths land mass at this stage is dominated by vegetation, when these die they transform into fossil fuel over the eons. The Palaeozoic era ends and the Mesozoic era begins with a mass extinction level event that is the biggest The Earth has ever witnessed with approximately 95% of sea and 75% of land creatures becoming extinct. Oceans were deprived of oxygen; there was a lot of volcanic activity and we also see the Earths land masses fuse together to form a single super-continent called Pangaea which loosely translates to the whole of Earth.
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48962 Pangaea continents.png by User: Kieff
It is during the Mesozoic era that we see the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Small animals such as reptiles and mammals arrive early on you also see the first signs of winged birds.
The climate was much hotter the Polar Regions are free from ice and we start to see the formation of seed bearing plants and trees. But this era is known for the birth of Dinosaurs who reigned supreme; they evolve, diversify and dominate this era which is said to have lasted approximately 150 million years.
At the very end of this era during the Cretaceous period Pangaea starts to break up and move apart into formation of continents similar to that we see today.
The Cenozoic era, (modern era), arrived with a bang literally, as an asteroid or meteor strike said to have occurred off the coast of South America leaving a large creator visible from space in the Yucatan Peninsula near Mexico.
Chicxulub impact crater By USGS - http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2003/05/meetings.html
This leads to the extinction of the Dinosaurs, small mammals are said to have then emerged from the ground and mammals become the dominate species. The climate becomes cooler carbon dioxide levels fall and Pangaea is no more as the continents are well on their way to forming the map a we see it today.
The Indian continent crashes into Asia helping to form the Himalayan Mountains. While the Antarctic moves away from Australasia. The Polar Region is now surrounded now by deep water which aids to form large ice sheets. This period is called the Quaternary it is when the last ice age begins.
The definition of an Epoch - a division of time that is a subdivision of a period and is itself subdivided into ages, corresponding to a series in chronostratigraphy.
By Chris Stringer, Natural History Museum, United Kingdom - Stringer, Chris (10september 2015). "The many mysteries of Homo naledi". eLife 4: e10627. DOI:10.7554/eLife.10627. PMC: 4559885. ISSN 2050-084X., CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43130024
200,000 years ago according to evolution we are told the first early humans appear, Hominidae the family to which we all belong. During this Epoch we have the Holocene age approximately 11,000 years ago this takes into account the latest interglacial of the last ice age we also see human civilisations, cities rise and fall, while agricultural farming really develops now.
The Anthropocene age starts approximately 200 odd years ago, there is some controversy in regards to whether or not this is actually an age or not but I personally agree. Anthropocene; taken from the Greek word Anthropos, which loosely translates to meaning human being.
Human beings as a species have caused more damage to the earth’s climate and environment than anything else that has preceded us and all this in such a very short space of time. The downward slope in respect to climate change and its inevitable snowball effect one of which results in ever more extreme weather patterns we now see today has followed. We have also gained in the last three or four decade’s terms such as CO2’s, Greenhouse effect, Global warming and the awareness of holes in the Ozone layer.
We can actually point to an exact period to when this all started to go drastically wrong, the Anthropocene age; the approximate 90 odd years during the course of the First Industrial Revolution from 1750 to 1840. Before that point in time all national economies were driven by a home based agricultural system where the land owner was lord and ruled.
By Nicolás Pérez, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=195711
The First Industrial Revolution hails its roots in the United Kingdom which mainly concentrated on production of iron, steel, coal and textiles. The term explains the transition from old to new manufacturing processes through new machinery and the exploitation of fossil fuels.
The term Industrial Revolution is widely known to have been used by French writers much earlier but it was accredited to the economic historian Mr. Arnold Toynbee (1852-1883) who made the term popular. He used the term to describe the United Kingdom’s quickening economic development during the periods from 1760-1840.
There are many dates banded about to describe the period but 1750 – 1840 is approximately correct. Although it had started earlier it was around the rise of the American Revolution (1775-83) in which the Industrial Revolution saw the biggest growth in Britain.
Statue of “Paul Revere” of Boston Tea Party famous for warning the Patriots during American Revolution 1775 - 1783
During that point in time everything started to drastically change with cultural, economic and technological advances. During this period the British government made it against the law to export machinery, skilled labour or manufacturing techniques.
There were political and social changes in the power structure of the country’s economy coupled with technological advances in manufacturing and machinery which made it easy and possible to increase the use and output of our natural resources like iron and fossil fuels like coal.
Science and medicine was pretty poor in those days if compared to now but even back then they theorised that if we continued to grow and expand and the use of fossil fuels and its waste product carbon, (pollution), was allowed to be released into the atmosphere uncontrolled and at the rate at which they were consuming it, the resulting adverse effect for the planet would take hold and there might not be any way to reverse it. How right were they?
We live in a very fast time at present a real quickening where technology reigns supreme. A few years back you were considered to be rich if you had a mobile phone or a computer obtainable to only the elite few. It’s the norm now but that’s a good thing. On the other hand to run these devices it takes battery power and electric energy and that’s a bad thing! Humans still burn an abundance of fossil fuels to create electricity or energy and industry still pollutes the earth, water, sea and air on a daily basis without being held to account either it seems.
We are at a point in time where we can still make a difference for the future generations, I hope, who will inevitably follow us! And although some strive to make a difference it will take a huge push from the majority to make a real change to the dilemma they will no doubt face if nothing concrete is done about this situation!
More and more people are becoming concerned with their immediate families mid to long term futures. Your personal set of circumstances may influence how you feel or what you think. Your age, if you have children or your work environment may lend weight to your way of thinking regarding environmental issues.
The dreamer in me wishes to change this fact, I’d like to leave a legacy of I made a difference for my heirs, but is it too late? Well I really hope it isn’t, even though, like you, I view all the stories in the press and media on all sides of the fence. The sceptical point of view, who thinks climate change and global warming are false, something dreament up by the media to sell newspapers.
An optimistic point of view or stance that the Earth, mother Gaia will renew itself and all the press & media hype is just mega over kill and there is nothing to really worry about or concern your little self with.
On the other hand we then have the pessimistic point of view, who believes at this late stage things can only get worse and all the press & media hype is a prelude to a reign of chaos or Armageddon; we stay and die or leave and survive. This last point got my inquisitive mind working overtime but that’s another story!
Environmental issues and our concerns about them are much more diverse and complex in the world we live in today! Individuals or organisations may disagree on all aspects of the environmental issues they face in their own communities or on how to solve the problem at large. An example for the case would be renewable energy which has a good argument with relation to helping to prevent climate change. But argue that point with someone who lives in the immediate affected or planned area for something like a windfarm for instance. The local community often disagrees, protest against them and resent the fact that wind farms are being placed near their homes or even in their community.
Environmental concerns also have major political and social aspects adding these to the issue and to its dimensions. Scientific and technical information is needed to aid and provide guidance to affected groups or parties. However this does not always provide a choice, right or wrong and reaching agreement in cases such as these between two opposing groups means understanding and respecting both points of view which as you can well appreciate isn’t always that easy!
By NASA Earth Observatory - http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/scripts/sseop/photo.pl?mission=ISS013&roll=E&frame=54329, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1722627
We need Carbon dioxide it’s very important actually to animals, plants and for the maintaining of life on the Earth. It is also a Greenhouse gas. Which means it actually helps regulate the temperature of the planet. It occurs naturally and is normally found in small quantities in the upper atmosphere.
As I mentioned earlier, since the Industrial Revolution and the mass extraction of coal, the burning of petroleum and gas the clearing of forests for farming and wood. Since that time there has been a huge amount of extra carbon dioxide released into the upper atmosphere. These extra carbon dioxide deposits were first detected and recorded in the 1950’s by Mr. Charles Keeling and his now infamous Keeling Curve, which basically is a diagram showing these levels over a long sustained period of time.
By National Science Foundation -  , Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20025052
The cause, effect and its consequences of these extra carbon dioxide deposits is an additional warming to the whole planet; this is known to us all now as “Global Warming” or the “Greenhouse Effect”. Keeling accumulated and used information from several different sites dotted across the globe and compared the measurements taken from each of them to create his curve. He did this to ensure his findings at “Mauna Loa” in “Hawaii” could not be disputed and was not just the result of a local phenomenon.
In the 60’s NASA was given the responsibility by the US government of beating the Russians to the Moon, it was the height of the cold war, and as part of that remit they were also ordered to look for sign of life on other worlds.
By MRC National Institute for Medical Research - MRC National Institute for Medical Research, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27620089
The question was asked if life exists on other planets how would be able to detected. A British scientist called James Lovelock who worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory came up with the answer. He theorised that our atmosphere is mostly made up of Oxygen and Nitrogen. And the fact is that all the oxygen should have been consumed because it’s highly reactive nature, an element that is consumed with almost everything it comes into contact with, turning iron to rust and allowing fossil fuels to burn easily. Over the eons of time there shouldn’t be any left. But because it still remained in our atmosphere at such levels meant it was being regenerated by living organisms on a regular basis. So he suggested they look for signs of elements such as oxygen that were unstable if they wanted to find life on other planets.
By Science Museum London / Science and Society Picture Library - James Lovelock's Electron capture detector for a gas chromatograph, 1960.Uploaded by Mrjohncummings, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28024345
James Lovelock was born on the fringes of London in 1919 he gained a first class degree for chemistry from Manchester University. And went on to for the National Institute of Medical Research in London where he worked for almost 20 year before being invited to join NASA as part of their space exploration programme during a trip to America. He was an avid inventor and in 1957 invented the Electron Capture Device which can measure the smallest amount of trace gases in the atmosphere. And also along with his colleague Lynn Margulis a biologist developed the Gaia hypothesis for which he is most widely known for - Gaia hypothesis, which proposes that living and non-living parts of the earth are a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single living organism. Named after the Greek Earth Goddess, this hypothesis proposes that all living things have a regulatory effect on the Earth's environment that promotes life overall.
By Anselm Feuerbach - http://www.bildindex.de/obj19070503.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9022191
It was James Lock who was the first to discover widespread CFC’s in the atmosphere but at the time did not really understand what his research really meant in respect to the overall effects CFC’s would have on the Ozone Layer and our Environment as a whole.
The following is segment taken from a lecture given by Sir Crispin Tickell on the Gaia hypothesis that he gave in 2006;
GAIA is a lady who has remained broadly the same underneath, but can wear many clothes for many weathers and many fashions. She has no particular tenderness for humans. We are no more than a small, albeit immodest, part of her. Only in the last tick of the clock of geological time did humans make their appearance, and only in the last fraction of it did they make any impact on the Earth system as a whole. (Sir Crispin Tickell, 2006)
What is a Carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is defined as the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular Individual, Organisation, or Community normally measured in tonnes of Carbon Dioxide equivalent CO2’s.
You may be asking right about now, well what is your point? The point is Climate Change is a natural occurring event and has been happening for eons. And it should happen but it should remain a natural occurring event and not a man made one!
Then we come along with our big bad human selves and inject massive amounts of extra Carbon Dioxides into her atmosphere, destroy and pollute all of her surrounding infrastructure like the oceans, trees and land, extract as many of her natural resources as we can like coal, gas and oil as if they were on a never ending conveyor belt and to hell with the consequences. Surely someone somewhere must have asked the question by doing this wouldn’t it affect the equilibrium of the planet?
Well Earth our mother Gaia cannot cope, not really, even though she will try and put up a good fight because she is a survivor and has been doing just that since the beginning of time. But humans are sly, secretive and greedy. You see it and want it even though you don’t really need it. I sometimes think what were we before money was invented? A simple species doing our business through barter; two eggs for five apples and so on. We hunted to feed and clothe ourselves and only used what we needed and no more. We will have to change the way we think and do things in the end, and that means all of us every last man, woman and child on the planet, and it starts with the youth of today and with their education! We are at a point in time where we can make the difference if we hurry we can help mother GAIA heal herself and overt a man-made disaster on a global scale. A dream together we can all make happen!
Article/Research by Do1 & GOFIGURE