HOW CAN WE REDUCE OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT? -1 - …

Economics is the study of humanity’s material well-being, but humans have rarely thought past their immediate economic self-interest, even when the long-term prospects were obviously suicidal, such as today’s global energy paradigm. Because environmental issues affect humanity’s material well-being, they are economic in nature. As can be seen so far in this essay, there was little awareness or seeming caring in early civilizations whether they were destroying the very foundations of their civilizations. Even if they did not care how much other life forms suffered, they did not seem to realize that it also meant that those oppressed and exterminated organisms and wrecked environments would not provide much benefit to humanity in the future, especially energy, whether it was food or wood.

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If we reduce the journeys we make by cars and planes our carbon footprint will also be reduced.

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Those molecules initiate photosynthesis by trapping photons. Chlorophyll is called a and, as it sits in its “,” it only absorbs wavelengths of light that . The wavelengths that plant chlorophyll does absorb well are in the green range, which is why plants are green. Some photosynthetic bacteria absorb green light, so , and there are many similar variations among bacteria. Those initial higher electron orbits from photon capture are not stable and would soon collapse back to their lower levels and emit light again, defeating the process, but in the electron is stripped from the capturing molecule and put into another molecule with a more stable orbit. That pathway of carrying the electron that got “excited” by the captured photon is called an . Separating protons from electrons via chemical reactions, and then using their resultant electrical potential to drive mechanical processes, is how life works.

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When cyanobacteria began using water in photosynthesis, carbon was captured and oxygen released, which began the oxygenation of Earth's atmosphere. But the process may have not always been a story of continually increasing atmospheric oxygen. There may have been wild swings. Although the process is indirect, oxygen levels are influenced by the balance of carbon and other elements being buried in ocean sediments. If carbon is buried in sediments faster than it is introduced to the atmosphere, oxygen levels will increase. is comprised of iron and sulfur, but in the presence of oxygen, pyrite's iron combines with oxygen (and becomes iron oxide, also known as rust) and the sulfur forms sulfuric acid. Pyrite burial may have acted as the dominant oxygen source before carbon burial did. There is sulfur isotope evidence that Earth had almost no atmospheric oxygen before 2.5 bya.

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The evidence is that after “only” 100 million years or so after LUCA lived, life learned its next most important trick after learning how to exist and speed up reactions: it tapped a new energy source. Photosynthesis may . Bacteria are true photosynthesizers that fix carbon from captured sunlight. Archaeans , so are not photosynthesizers, even those that capture photons.

The Importance of Reducing a Carbon Footprint.

Around when Harland first proposed a global ice age, a climate model developed by Russian climatologist concluded that if a Snowball Earth really happened, the runaway positive feedbacks would ensure that the planet would never thaw and become a permanent block of ice. For the next generation, that climate model made a Snowball Earth scenario seem impossible. In 1992, a professor, , that coined the term Snowball Earth. Kirschvink sketched a scenario in which the supercontinent near the equator reflected sunlight, as compared to tropical oceans that absorb it. Once the global temperature decline due to reflected sunlight began to grow polar ice, the ice would reflect even more sunlight and Earth’s surface would become even cooler. This could produce a runaway effect in which the ice sheets grew into the tropics and buried the supercontinent in ice. Kirschvink also proposed that the situation could become unstable. As the sea ice crept toward the equator, it would kill off all photosynthetic life and a buried supercontinent would no longer engage in . Those were two key ways that carbon was removed from the atmosphere in the day's , especially before the rise of land plants. Volcanism would have been the main way that carbon dioxide was introduced to the atmosphere (animal respiration also releases carbon dioxide, but this was before the eon of animals), and with two key dynamics for removing it suppressed by the ice, carbon dioxide would have increased in the atmosphere. The resultant greenhouse effect would have eventually melted the ice and runaway effects would have quickly turned Earth from an icehouse into a greenhouse. Kirschvink proposed the idea that Earth could vacillate between states.

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Canfield’s original hypothesis, which seems largely valid today, is that the deep oceans were not oxygenated until the Ediacaran Period, which followed the Cryogenian; the process did not begin until about 580 mya and first completed about 560 mya. The wildest swing in Earth’s entire geological record begins about 575 mya and ends about 550 mya, and is called the Shuram excursion. Explaining the Shuram excursion is one of the most controversial areas of geology today, with numerous proposed hypotheses. When the controversies are finally resolved, if they resolved, the Shuram and excursions, even though they go in opposite directions, I suspect will likely be both related to the dynamics of ice ages and the rise of oxygen levels. Ediacaran fauna, the first large, complex organisms to ever appear on Earth, also first appeared about 575 mya, when the Shuram excursion began. I strongly doubt that Earth’s first appearance of large complex life at the exact geological timescale moment of the wildest carbon-isotope swing in Earth’s history will prove to be a coincidence. The numerous competing hypotheses regarding the Shuram excursion include: