Posted in ENT 601 Spring 2017

Carbon Cycle Week 2 Reflection (01/21/2017)

While reading through Part One of Think Like A Futurist, I found myself agreeing with the vast majority of the points the author, Cecily Sommers, has made so far. She has also used examples and shared information that I either knew a little about or almost nothing. For starters, she brings up the Carbon Cycle and how much we, as humans in this society (past and present), are creating more carbon than the Earth can handle. Seeing as she gives just enough information to get one interested and to argue her points, I chose to delve into the matter further for my own knowledge and understanding.

So, I found myself on NASA’s Earth Observatory page. Reading through the information about how carbon is a part of everything in the world and the two different types of Carbon Cycles, quite a bit began making more sense to me. The two types are Fast and Slow Carbon Cycles (simple, right?). Fast relates to the day-to-day consumption processes all living things need to survive (i.e. food). We eat plants that have absorbed carbon, we break things down to general forms and repeat this process. Slow pertains more to the greater scheme of how the planet functions, and has throughout its entire existence. The process of the Slow Carbon Cycle is very much what scientists, environmentalists, and anyone else [who cares about this planet] have concerned themselves with. Global Warming, which is what society has come to refer to the Carbon Cycle as, is a very real thing. Based on the information provided on NASA’s website, it shows that an increase in carbon (far beyond the planet’s ability to handle) will result in ocean temperatures increasing. We cannot pretend that this is not happening or that all of this extra carbon is just going to magically disappear one day. There are far too many ways that our society emits carbon on a daily basis and not enough mature plant life to create some kind of balance anymore. The planet will continue to work towards solving its carbon problem in its own way, but whether or not that will leave a place for the human race, it is very much uncertain.

From what I read on the Earth Observatory page by NASA, so far the plant life (what is left, that is) has been a big player in dealing with the excess carbon in the atmosphere. Plants need carbon and heat (hello climate change) in order to grow and thrive. Sounds great, but because the plants cannot handle all of the extra carbon, the oceans are having to help, which does not bode quite as well for them. All of this extra carbon is resulting in increases in water temperatures. These increases in temperatures are resulting in glaciers slowly melting and sea creatures slowly dying, which results in sea levels rising.

Now, some may argue that what the planet is going through at the moment is natural and that was going to happen anyways. To an extent, they are correct; the planet technically will go through another ice age at some point in its lifetime. The issue with that argument is that it usually takes thousands of years (if not longer) for all of this to happen. We, as the human race, have drastically sped up the temperature change for this planet. How have we done this? By drilling into the ground and mountains for coal, natural gas, and fossil fuels to burn as energy, which creates more carbon in the atmosphere. We are literally going into the Earth and bringing up old carbon the planet could not handle thousands of years ago to create energy, but also so that a select few can make lots of money. There are plenty of other ways that we can be energy efficient. We proved it back in the 70’s, as Cecily Sommers pointed out when talking about how petroleum prices went up drastically during that time. Which forced the United States to figure out how to be fuel/energy efficient. A couple of energy related groups were created and people were actually looking into using solar and wind power. But as soon as petroleum prices went back down to an acceptable number, we turned back around to what we already knew, which is why we are now dealing with so many people stuck in the past. How can our planet have a chance at a future when so many are stuck in the past?

 

Sources:

Riebeek, Holli. “The Carbon Cycle.” NASA. NASA, 16 June 2011. Web. 18 Jan. 2017

 

Sommers, Cecily. Think like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn’t, and What’s next. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2012. Print.

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