Tag Archives: greenhouse gases

The War Against Trees and Phytoplankton

People are always talking about rising carbon dioxide levels, talking about how to reduce emissions, and slow the rise in temperatures and sea levels. But what about increasing the rate of carbon dioxide being taken out of the atmosphere? That’s where trees and phytoplankton come in.

Trees in the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, near the Imperial Palace.
Trees in the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, near the Imperial Palace.

There’s a problem, though. It seems that with the rate of deforestation, especially in tropical regions, we’re eroding the Earth’s ability to reduce the greenhouse gas. Trees are also good at taking pollutants out of the air. It’s beneficial to have plants in your home, because they make the air cleaner and fresher. I look around where I live, and I see industrial areas surrounded by trees. But in the residential areas, people live on tiny properties with little to no plant life growing on their properties. It’s all concrete. In areas where people are living, they make them so unappealing to me. I like yards with grass and trees. It’s better for the air, too.

Trees are wonderful, but what about the plant that takes half of the job of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? That job goes to phytoplankton, which lives in the oceans. Over the past half century, the number of phytoplankton has actually increased by ten times. Sounds wonderful, and it seems that they’re able to handle an increase in ocean temperatures by about two degrees pretty well. However, with the increase of carbon dioxide, ocean water is acidifying, and that’s bad news for the phytoplankton, as they have chalk-like shells. Those break down in more acidic water. But increase global water temperatures by six degrees, and that’s the breaking point for phytoplankton. They will cease producing oxygen. And this will result in a very quick suffocation of the world’s animal life, including humans.

Oh, that sounds lovely, doesn’t it? This is something that hasn’t really been paid attention to before. While a six degree increase is a lot, and extremely unlikely to happen within our lifetimes, it could happen if left unchecked in our descendants’ lifetimes.

I, for one, do not want our generation’s mistakes to cause suffering to our children’s children’s children. But do people care? I find that there are a lot of people I know who post things on Facebook that are anti-science and claim to refute climate change, yet they have no clue that the things they are posting are written by people who have an agenda. They post articles that are from websites that are completely biased and leave no room for any debate. They pick and choose pieces of evidence, yet they don’t look at the whole picture. It’s a dangerous way of thinking, and I will argue against what they are saying. I dislike misinformation. They do it for the sake of local jobs and the economy. I’m far more concerned about my daughter’s future in a world that has more and more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and rising temperatures.

I wish it were an easy fix, such as planting more trees. More trees would help, but not enough. At least it would help slow the increase, even if it is a small amount.

What are your thoughts about this whole debate? I’d like to hear your opinions in the comments below.