- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
For those who are doubtful that the climate change we are seeing is caused by the activities of those who live on our planet, I suggest that they may not appreciate the scale of our environment.
First let’s note that our planet is about 25,000 miles around at the equator. (Do you realize that you are traveling about 1,000 mph if you are on the equator? The Earth is about 25,000 miles around at the equator and we make a revolution every 24 hours.)
Next we know that the deepest place in the ocean is 36,000 feet, or about 6.5 miles, deep and Mount Everest is about 29,000 feet high, or 5.5 miles. Together from the deepest part of the ocean to the highest point of land we are looking at about 13 miles. This is less than the distance from Hollywood to Charlotte Hall. The things we think of as being big are not so big on the scale of the entire Earth.
How about the atmosphere? The part of the atmosphere we experience, the part which has most of our oxygen, is 10 miles deep. (Remember that Mount Everest is only 5.5 miles high and to climb there you need to take your own oxygen.) For all practical purposes there isn’t any atmosphere beyond 20 miles up.
Actually we live on a relatively smooth sphere with a very thin layer of air surrounding us. In 1912, the Earth’s population was about 1.8 billion. Today the population is more than 8 billion.
Today there are more than 1 billion cars and trucks on the road worldwide. (In 1912, there were about 300,000 cars and trucks on the road, most of them in the United States.) Today, if each car burns two gallons of gas a day that means that we are turning those 2 billion gallons as exhaust into our very thin atmosphere every day.
Today all those 8 billion people use fossil fuels to keep warm, cook their food and to manufacture the stuff they own. We deliver goods all across the world by burning fossil fuels. We travel through the air by burning fossil fuels. Almost all the electricity created is made by burning fossil fuels. A very small percent comes from nuclear and wind.
In the past, carbon dioxide was kept in check by plants converting it into carbon, the basic stuff all living things are made of, and releasing the oxygen back into the atmosphere. Today, worldwide, our forests are disappearing so that the CO2 is not being converted at a rate which will keep things balanced. Common sense tells us, as does science, that we can’t continue to do this with out expecting something to happen. CO2 is being accumulated in our very thin atmosphere at a pace which is causing global warming and climate change.
You have to appreciate the scale of things to understand what we are doing to our planet. We have to recognize the problem and forget politics if we are to survive as a species.
David Kelsey, Hollywood