There are many articles and news related to global warming. Many people are somewhat worried about it. However, there are also some people claiming that global warming is not real and it is all about money as Jesse Ventura stated in this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm54OTiTR6E. With many conflict stories, people may get confused with what to trust. Should we have to make a decision on which party is right and which party is wrong on this subject to reduce green house gases (GHG) and pollutions? The answer is “NO” because the most important matter is not in these arguments.
A balanced world
We live on earth with many other living organisms and non-living materials. Living with others means interaction. We are interacting with plants, atmosphere, water, animals, and even viruses and bacteria. The interactions like these produce the balance in nature. The balance produced in this way is the key to evolution. Evolution occurs when species adapt to the given environment over time. As balance of nature changes, all living organisms adapt to fit to the changes gradually. Since the evolution is a very slow process, it takes thousands to millions of years to occur. This implies that the balance of nature has not changed rapidly. We have seen mass species extinction whenever there were rapid changes in the balance of nature. The extinction of dinosaurs is a good example. Hence, the world we are living in is very well balanced for most of the living organisms. Then, what is the relationship between the balanced world and global warming?
Gas balance between plants and animals
While animals are breathing, animals utilize oxygen and release carbon dioxide. On the other hand, plants do exactly the opposite way by utilizing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. By exchanging gases between animals and plants, the oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations are being constant in earth’s atmosphere. Normally, many people are mistaken plants sacrificing themselves for animals. But the truth is that plants are providing themselves to get what they need to survive and to reproduce. Plants feed animals to get carbon dioxide, to spread seeds and to relocate nutrients. For example, herbivores (plant eating animals) survive by eating plants and produce carbon dioxide while they are alive. They also spread certain types of plants to different areas by, for example, carrying seeds on their fur. After the death of these animals, they go back to the soil and now the decomposed bodies are being ready for plants to absorb. Thus, plants need animals for their survival as much as animals do need plants. The balance comes from these interactions. What does this have to do with global warming? The answer should be ‘everything’.
GHG and the global warming
Carbon dioxide is one of the GHG and considered to be the main cause of global warming. The reason is because carbon dioxide absorbs the heat in the earth’s atmosphere. This means that higher concentration of carbon dioxide traps more heat which increases earth’s temperature overall. The main source of carbon dioxide is from fossil fuel. The fossil fuel (such as natural gas, oil, and coal) is made of dead organisms that had lived a long time ago. The organisms are full of organic molecules, which are made of carbons. Fossil fuel combustion emits carbon dioxide and because of this, we consider the fossil fuel as a main source of global warming. This is why we are putting effort to reducing carbon dioxide emission. We are also trying to reduce the deforestation since deforestation is one of the main causes of high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Since the trees utilize carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, fewer trees mean more carbon dioxide. Rainforest especially is the biggest concern not just because of the number of trees, but also their characteristics. The trees in equator areas get constant sunlight throughout the year while other regions have different amount of sunlight along the seasons. This indicates that the plants in equator areas are evolved to maximize the usage of sunlight. In other words, these plants are designed to do photosynthesis in their maximum level. Photosynthesis is the key mechanisms of utilizing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. This is also the reason why many tropical plants are evolved to have wider leaves – increasing surface to take sunlight and maximize photosynthesis and consumes more carbon dioxide in turn. By doing this, removing trees from rainforests is one of the biggest concerns in carbon dioxide concentration and the changes in balance nature.
With all the evidences and reasonable explanations, opponents of global warming still claim that the rising temperature is not due to the GHG, but due to earth’s natural cycle of changing in climate. Some say that carbon dioxide concentration was higher several thousand years ago. However, it is not important whether it is earth’s natural cycle or whether the carbon dioxide concentration was higher than present time. This should not be the main topic of discussion. The main topic to discuss is that we are changing the balance of carbon dioxide and the speed of the changes is very fast. High carbon dioxide concentration was probably the best condition for plants and animals several thousand years ago, because plants and animals were well adapted to their given environment. However, if we, somehow, brought those animals and plants to the present, we probably would see most of them die fast because they cannot adapt to the current environment. Animals and plants living in present time are well adapted to current earth conditions. This indicates that any fast changes in our environment will cause many species extinctions because not many living organisms are able to adapt to the fast changing environment. We know this very well through the history of dinosaurs that were extinct due to rapid environmental changes. In these days, changes in carbon dioxide concentration are very fast and scientist don’t have many clues what would happen in near future simply due to the lack of data.
Global warming is a theory. A theory, as we know, cannot explain all the phenomena we observe. When a hypothesis is accepted as a theory, it is being considered to provide the most reasonable explanations to many phenomena observed. This indicates that a theory has some defects. The defects can be seen big enough for some people who want to see them big. We should look into the missing puzzle pieces to fill these holes, but we should not let the holes make the whole theory discredited.
Just by knowing that “NO THEORY is PERFECT”, we will be able to think what we have to do to reduce the speed of changes in nature like this.