Mark Greenwood: Facing extinction

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When you see people riding bicycles instead of driving a hydrocarbon-burning, molecular oxygen-consuming vehicle, we should be grateful that someone is contributing to the future survival of humans on planet Earth.

If everyone understood quantum physics and basis chemistry, we all would understand the process of global warming and the reduction of the surplus molecular oxygen that took 3.5 billion years to produce through photosynthesis.

Then, we all would understand that it's the molecular oxygen that absorbs the ultraviolet energy and becomes ozone. We also would understand that larger molecules such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, carbon dioxide and water vapor are great at absorbing the infrared (heat) portion of the energy spectrum.

When we drive our vehicles, we are reversing the process of photosynthesis at a very fast rate. For photosynthesis to catch up, it will take another few billion years.

A final thought: If everyone on Earth stopped burning fuel, the climate of the Earth would stay the same (plus or minus 1 degree). If we continue to burn at the current rate, we will face extinction in the next 60 years. So, at least bike if you can.

Mark Greenwood

Steamboat Springs

Comments

bellyup 5 years, 5 months ago

I can't believe there are people who don't believe humankind is completely ruining this planet. Pull your heads out before it is too late!

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aichempty 5 years, 5 months ago

I hate to tell you this, but if molecular oxygen disappears, so will all the people.

Trees, plants and algae produce oxygen continuously. Riding a bike uses it up faster than sitting on your a$$. So do us a favor and keep your bike in the garage to conserve molecular oxygen for ozone production. Okay?

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trump_suit 5 years, 5 months ago

But does not your automobile also us oxygen? I can assure you all that living in North Routt is NOT conducive to riding your bike to the grocery store. Bicycles will not haul your supplies over Rabbit Ears Pass, and they will not deliver firewood or any other supplies to your front door.

What we need is a comprehensive effort to reduce our dependance on foreign energy. Lets face it, the technology does not yet exist to replace oil and coal as our primary energy sources. It is long past due to begin the process but our initial efforts should be towards becoming energy self sufficient.

While I am a supporter of alternative energy and renewable resources, riding your bicycle is not going to save the Earth. At most it will add a few years to your life assuming that you follow basic traffic laws :)

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popcan 5 years, 5 months ago

Earth Muffin: All you green wack jobs enjoy making everyone feel guilty and miserable thinking we are all destroying the earth. All of you greenies feed on this bs to make big profits like your buddy Al Gore. Where are all the great green jobs to make our country better? You are telling everyone not to drive cars. We need to sell cars, pickup trucks and everything else to keep this country going. You green wack jobs are breaking this country. I am looking forward to driving my gashog pickup truck when I can. I can't wait till Ford comes out with the F150 diesel. By the way I also ride my gas gusling atv across the forest on the trails and our great Blm lands full of dirt to tear up and I don't cover up the tracks. I love shooting prairie dogs too.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 5 months ago

As someone that has passed university physics, chemistry and upper division quantum mechanics, I have to say the author of that letter has it wrong.

Oxygen consumption at ground level has nothing to do with the ozone layer. Protecting the ozone layer is all about stopping certain gases such as CFCs from reaching the ozone layer where they break down the ozone layer.

And the CO2 and other greenhouse gases have major effects on the climate at concentrations far below atmospheric oxygen. The suggestion that we have burned off oxygen that will take billions of years for photosynthesis to replace is simply wrong. We are not going to run out of oxygen.

The idea that we face extinction in 60 years is not widely held. Surface temp and climate may be a few degrees warmer which would have major climate and ecological effects, but it does not threaten us with extinction. It might make us a lot poorer as agricultural regions become less productive and so on.

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JLM 5 years, 5 months ago

Sheesh, this is wrong on so many levels one doesn't even know where to begin --- but how about something very, very simple.

Global warming, if you subscribe to that particular mythology, will result in increased plant growth and increased production of oxygen.

Makes sense, no? We are after all talking about a "greenhouse" effect, are we not?

When do plants grow in the warming spring or in the dead of winter?

I will take the "over" on man being extinct in 60 years. Me? I will likely be extinct but man? Not bloody likely!

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Viper 5 years, 5 months ago

31,478 American scientists have signed this petition doubting the convincing scientific evidence on GW, including 9,029 with PhDs.

They even included their names. I actually found the names of a few engineers that I know.

http://www.petitionproject.org/

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 5 months ago

Many from the left feel that earth would be a better place without humans. Our current administration is either buying into this idea, or I have lost my mind.

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Viper 5 years, 5 months ago

Snowblow - One of the people who signed the petition was a physicist named Freeman Dyson, also a lib like you. His view on GW makes a lot more sense than the Al Gore version.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/magazine/29Dyson-t.html

"Climate models, he says, take into account atmospheric motion and water levels but have no feeling for the chemistry and biology of sky, soil and trees. "The biologists have essentially been pushed aside," he continues. "Al Gore's just an opportunist. The person who is really responsible for this overestimate of global warming is Jim Hansen. He consistently exaggerates all the dangers."

He goes on to say we should be more concerned about the ozone levels and cooler temperatures in the stratosphere. I don't think he works for Exxon.

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jk 5 years, 5 months ago

Fred, Many from the right feel that the overpopulation of our planet as well as our valley will have no ill effects. I am wondering who has lost their mind??

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seeuski 5 years, 5 months ago

We have been experiencing global warming here. Is it January?

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Tim Scannell 5 years, 5 months ago

Extinct in 60 years? Please tell me what report, study, or analysis that claim is based on. Until that statement, you had me convinced to sell my car, home, and kids and move into a cave

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flower 5 years, 5 months ago

Here is an idea, stop driving your kids to every possible activity they can manage to sign up for and then teaching them to backlash at anything they feel is 'non-green'. Which while I'm venting; the ski hill is NOT 'green'.

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sledneck 5 years, 5 months ago

Before man began to impact the earth it went through significant climate changes on its own. The earth may indeed be warming but not one of you can prove it is due to me and my car. Has anyone checked the sun to see if it is a bit hotter these days? Why is the temprature on mars increasing? Furthermore, mankind attempting to affect significant climate change (or counter it) looks to me to be about as dangerous as a kid who just found his daddys pistol... it ain't gonna be pretty! As for being extinct in 60 years; you will be extinct much sooner than that if your bicyclinig involves turning your back on 50 mph traffic.

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jk 5 years, 5 months ago

sled, I think you are correct in figuring that our signifigance on this planet is not really affecting global warming, however we are limited in what we use to enjoy the lifestyle we lead. Hopefully the "Green Movement" will chart a course in the right direction.

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sledneck 5 years, 5 months ago

Windle, Of course we have an impact on this planet. I never denied that. And I would freely admit that our impact is sometimes bad. And we are wise to strive for a cleaner, more efficient world. Mankinds impact however, is not all bad. Fire keeps us warm... it's a GOOD thing. Toilets are better than outhouses. They are GOOD. Beef is GOOD, just ask a hungry ethiopian. Antibiotics are GOOD... just ask a person who suffers from infection. Copper mines are bad but the copper wire in our houses is GOOD. I have learned a great deal from the past. As a student of history I know that not one person in 1000 living today could cope with the hardships of life as it was even 100 years ago. You can't earnestly condem modern life while partaking in it. It is easy to list the impacts of man on our world and proclaim the virtues of a eutopian philosophy. But it is another task entirely to live the example you extoll. Would YOU give up your electricity or would you just have US give up ours? Would YOU deny yourself the food of your choice or will that be OUR lot? Would you wash YOUR clothes on the riverbank or is that a remedy you would prescribe for the REST of us? Beating up on modern society is quite fashionable these days but it is unimpressive to me because the "beater-uppers" continue to wilfully enjoy the luxuries they condem. Al Gore is not credible to so many Americans because his "carbon footprint" doesn't match his talk. First, deny yourselves the fruits from the trees you would chop down or your words will continue to ring hollow to many.

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Clearsky 5 years, 5 months ago

CFC's use up atmospheric Oxygen through Ozonolysis. High energy unstable O3 reacts with the Carbon=Carbon double bonds to separate the bonds and form aldehydes and ketones. That is the mechanism by which Ozone is used up. So Ozone is produced as a result of absorption of Ultraviolet Energy. Ultraviolet Energy excites the electrons in Molecular Oxygen to a higher level that allows Ozone (O3) to form but since it is unstable, the energy is released at a lower wavelength to drop back into the stable O2. The energy cascades until the visible portion of the Energy sprectrum can be observed. Ultraviolet-Violet-Blue. Now do you see?

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Clearsky 5 years, 5 months ago

So my point is if we are using up molecular Oxygen faster than Photosynthesis can produce it then there will be less O2 available to become Ozone. Remember this -if you are burning something it came from photosynthesis as did the Molecular Oxygen in our atmosphere. We are reversing photosynthesis at an enormously rapid rate. And not just here in the Yampa Valley but the whole Earth.

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trump_suit 5 years, 5 months ago

Come on Clearsky. You could at least backup some of this conjecture with any kind of a study that shows a decrease in Oxygen Levels. To my knowledge, nothing of the sort exists.

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Clearsky 5 years, 5 months ago

That is correct. You will have to use basic chemistry knowledge and a little common sense. When organic mass such as wood,leaves,petroleum, coal, natural gas, methane, glucose, anything made through Photosynthesis is metabolized or burned, it will ultimately use up the exact amount of molecular Oxygen that was produced by Photosynthesis. Since Ozone is easy to observe due to the release of energy, as I explained above, we do see a growing hole that demonstrates a decreasing amount. I'll say intuitive sense and basic chemistry. The equation for combustion is the same for Photosynthesis except one way is the storage of energy and release of O2 and the other way is the release of the energy and consumption of O2.

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trump_suit 5 years, 5 months ago

Clear, You have yet to show even a single scientific study that shows the level of Oxygen is diminishing. There are numerous studies that show an increase in the C02 and Methane levels. There are also multiple studies that show a decrease in the ozone layer.

These trends are well documented if not completely understood. What is missing in your diatribe is any evidence whatsoever that "Molecular Oxygen" is actually diminishing. So, I repeat for effect, show us the studies if you have any.

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Clearsky 5 years, 5 months ago

If you run an internal combustion engine or any burning process in an enclosed ecosystem what do you think will happen. Come on! It IS SIMPLE! Photosynthesis is the same equation as combustion as explained above. Look up Biosphere I and II. And the Ozone layer is molecular Oxygen excited to an unstable O3 state. CFC use up the Molecular Oxygen and so does burning, metabolization, decomposition. In fact based on a balanced combustion equation you can calculate how much O2 has been used up by knowing how much CO2 has increased. and that does not include the Sulfur Dioxides or Nitrogen Dioxides.

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Clearsky 5 years, 5 months ago

Thank you bellyup. You have hit the nail on the head.

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aichempty 5 years, 5 months ago

Clearly,

You'd have to burn every green plant and kill all the green algae to cause the effect you're describing. You're forgetting that green plants and algae will convert the CO2 back into O2 as quickly as it is produced. The entire chloropyl bearing biomass of the Earth would have to stop photosynthesizing in order for the CO2 to get ahead of O2.

I'd say that you are missing some chapters out of one of your text books -- or maybe the reason you believe this crap is because the information has been left out of text books -- but since the atmospheric oxygen content is approximately 20% and CO2 is less than 1%, it appears that the plants which are producing oxygen are way ahead of the processes that are producing CO2.

It's not a zero sum equation in the case you're describing. While photosynthesis and combustion are just the molecular opposites of each other, oxygen cannot be produced without CO2 in the first place. CO2 limits the amount of O2 we can have. You've got it backwards if you think that burning carbon is going to result in too much CO2. Too much oxygen, which feeds naturally occurring fires, is the real hazard. If photosynthesis worked any better, everything would have burned up eons ago.

The hazard of extinction only exists for organisms which are poisoned by too much oxygen, and guess what? They went extinct long ago.

Here's a Ph.D. dissertation subject for you. Figure out how much biomass would have to burn up and how fast to deplete the oxygen content of the air to a point where fires could not continue to burn.

Photosynthesis does not work without the sun. It can't happen at night. That limits the amount of CO2 that can be converted back to oxygen by photosynthesis.

So, I believe you would find that the amount of free oxygen available to support combustion would literally put out the fires. The surviving plants would quickly convert CO2 to O2. It's pretty obvious that the natural limits of CO2 and O2 are defined by the carbon cycle and the rate of photosynthesis, with the limit on oxygen being the maximum amount of CO2 available to green plants and algae.

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Clearsky 5 years, 5 months ago

aichempty you are just blabbering along. Take some time and think about it. If Molecular Oxygen is to be present as well as the carbon fuel we are burning then if you use up one, you use up the other. Simple. It took 3.5 billion years for Photosynthesis to produce the molecular Oxygen and the carbon fuel to the level before man began to burn things.

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aichempty 5 years, 5 months ago

Clearsky,

I'll tell you why I know your theory is BS.

Some liberal Democrat would already be using it if any of it was even remotely true.

Oxygen is like ice. Use it up, and then make some more. All it takes is a bit of energy and the right equipment.

Oxygen is a waste product of lower forms of life. Much like the pseudo science being taught in our schools.

Get one of those "closed environment" globes they sell on some of the educational websites. There are shrimp and plants contained in a closed glass sphere that needs nothing but sunlight to make it work. If it wasn't representative of what goes on with the carbon cycle in our atmospehre, the shrimp would die from lack of oxygen. Q E D

Carbon dioxide is the raw material of photosynthesis. Oxygen is the waste product. Limiting CO2 limits the O2 supply.

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JLM 5 years, 5 months ago

If you are hitching your wagon to CO2 as the environmental bugaboo to scare the children, you have picked a pretty damn lame horse. CO2 is a "trace" gas which makes up only 320-390 ppmv (parts per million by volume) of the air you breathe.

That's 390 parts by volume (say ounces) out of 1,000,000 parts of air. Wow, that's not too damn much, is it?

In the wildest assertions of alarmist "fact" the most outlandish pronouncement has been a 35% increase over an almost 200 year period. A period of time in which many observers opine that the simple accuracy of measurement did not approach the magnitude of the purported increase.

To suggest that oxygen is only a by product of photosynthesis is to ignore the creation of massive amounts of consumable energy in the form of sugars which are created by plant growth. All those great veggies!

You know like when you greedily wolf down those brussel sprouts or rutabagas or broccoli you are ingesting energy from the sun and CO2. I am sure that you have had that Brussel Sprouts energy buzz a few times! Yeah!

Did you know that commercial greenhouses routinely inject CO2 into the micro-environments of the enclosed greenhouse to INDUCE GROWTH! A bit more CO2 might be a great thing for the production of plant growth and the production of oxygen.

While man certainly has had some impact on the earth and many environmental causes are more than worthy absent the global warming hysteria, man is really insignificant in the greater scheme of things. Believe it or not, more impact is created by volcanoes (which even Nancy Pelosi cannot control) and forest fires than wood burning fireplaces. Even during ski season in the 'Boat!

CO2? Don't hold your breath on it? LOL

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playa46 5 years, 5 months ago

Uhhhhhh....wow.

Now I remember why people are stupid, both lefties and righties. There could be global warming because of us, there could not. Who cares? We have a problem, and not doing something could kill us all.

Or who cares about that? We all die someday, maybe we all need to chill out and think some more. Maybe, the world needs to realize that we still have many problems and that the world will never be perfect. You could simply say that the Earth has been doomed before humans even existed.

The fact is, we are all still here, alive and able to think. (Hopefully). If we all die, well that's just fine with me. Count your blessings, it could be much worse. :)

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Clearsky 5 years, 5 months ago

Regardless of what argument someone can make, Photosynthesis and combustion are the same chemical equation. If we are burning something it came from Photosynthesis and so did the exact same amount of molecular Oxygen that is required to burn it. It took 3.5 billion years to produce the surplus of both O2 and fuel. It will take that much time to produce the surplus again. If we use up the O2 then Ultraviolet light will destroy all susceptable life forms on Earth, the surviving species will be the hard shelled insects until the food runs out. That is our future if we continue at this rate. So come up with all your arguments but the simple fact remains. We are dooming life as we know it on this planet and will have to send "Noah's Ark" off once again to find the "Garden of Eden".

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jk 5 years, 5 months ago

clearsky, I think you're over-simplification of the process is what is at question here?

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aichempty 5 years, 5 months ago

Clearsky,

You are breathing in oxygen and exhaling CO2 right now. Well, you are if you're human, anyway.

The CO2 you exhale gets converted back into 02 by the marijuana plants growing in Steamboat Springs.

There is far more O2 than CO2 around. There'd be more O2 if there was more CO2, however, because that's how O2 is produced.

Unless we kill all the green plants, we can't get rid of O2. Why is that so hard for you to understand?

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knee_dropper 5 years, 5 months ago

lololol aich! The answer is to plant more marijuana!

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jk 5 years, 5 months ago

Aich, Does this mean that you back marijuana now? lol After all it helps with global warming from all of the CO2 the road cyclists create. Imagine the oxygen being created from those little mj plants helping your candles burn as you sit in the tub watching the cycling video of yourself.

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aichempty 5 years, 5 months ago

Aha! I knew I had fans.

Now that Michael Jackson is dead from a drug overdose, I can finally break into the industry.

Back on point, our primordial atmosphere was choked with CO2 produced by volcanoes. Primitive bacteria took in CO2 and produced O2 which was toxic to them. The point finally came where the O2 level was too high and the bacteria died off. High CO2 is the "natural" state of the universe which life came along and screwed up. Maybe our Planet would like to go back to the good old days when there was more CO2. Could it be that "saving the Planet" is exactly what's going on as CO2 levels rise?

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 5 months ago

Oxygen is measured as a percentage (21%) of the atmosphere. CO2 is measured in parts per million (390 or so). Computer models project extremely serious global warming if CO2 is allowed to reach 1,000 ppm (or .1% of the atmosphere). Goals of global warming prevention programs is to limit CO2 to somewhere between 500 and 600 ppm.

The amount of atmospheric oxygen lost to CO2 so far is less than the difference in oxygen by gaining one inch in altitude. Meanwhile, there is about 20% loss in oxygen due to being at SB's altitude above sea level.

We are simply not running out of oxygen.

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Clearsky 5 years, 5 months ago

Again, arguments, words, assumptions, confusion. If you are burning something then it came from Photosynthesis as did the exact amount of molecular Oxygen. Combustion and Photosynthesis chemical equation is the same except one way stores energy and the other releases energy. It took 3.5 BILLION years to reach the surplus amount of both carbon based fuel and atmospheric molecular Oxygen. When plant life die, they decompose, burn, or are metabolized and in the process use up the SAME amount of molecular Oygen they produced. So to gain a surplus we would have to separate the carbon based fuel and the molecular Oxygen so they can not react together. So when a tree dies, it is burned or decomposes which is Oxidation. The process uses up the SAME amount of molecular Oxygen. So all Photosynthesis processes are reversed if the products stay in contact with the O2 they produces . We need to come up with solutions instead of trying to come up with bogus arguments so that we can continue to do the things the way we've been doing. It's the same amount of work.

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aichempty 5 years, 4 months ago

Okay, now you're just screwing with us . . ..

I get it . . . a taste of my own medicine.

^5 bro'.

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