Letter to the Editor for July 18, 2014
Our carbon appetite threatens the air we breathe
For the past several hundred million years that part of the Earth above the water has been blanketed with plant life. These plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. The oxygen made animal life possible, when it came along, to exist here also.
It is a good thing for animals such as ourselves that plants separate carbon dioxide into its two elements and lock up the carbon part. For something sinister, for animals, happens when carbon dioxide accumulates in the air above a certain concentration.
Were it not for the great green carbon sink blanketing the Earth and soaking up the carbon dioxide, the air would become too hot for animals to live in. We can be thankful we have this green blanket that keeps up with the naturally produced carbon dioxide and keeps our air ocean habitable.
Or did, at least until we invented autos and planes and diesel locomotives and coal-fired power plants, all of which use carbon for fuel and dump carbon dioxide as waste into the air we all breathe. And for the fuel we keep needing, we dig up the carbon the plants locked up millions of years ago.
At first it made no detectable difference. There were not nearly so many of us so there were but a few of the machines. But we became so numerous and we found so many adaptations for these carbon-fueled engines, all the while mindlessly cutting down our forests and paving over and otherwise reducing the size of the green blanket we depend upon to clean that air, that we have overwhelmed its cleaning capacity. Now there is an excess of carbon dioxide in our air ocean. That excess is heating the great air ocean, which is heating the vast salt oceans. And these in turn are changing our weather. It is well underway.
We get all excited, as we should of course, and promptly do something about it when we find a little cow poop in Elk Creek but go right on dumping the stuff that is going to exterminate us into our only breathing air.