The Breath of the Earth

The cover photo for this post depicts a NASA supercomputer generated model that simulates what carbon dioxide looks like in Earth’s atmosphere if climate change creates a situation where the land and ocean are no longer capable of absorbing fifty percent of the CO2 emissions that are currently produced. Things are going to start getting hot really fast.

The aim of the UN climate summit in Paris is to set future limits on human-produced carbon emissions. The research of NASA will play a critical role in briefing all nations who attend. The gringa is willing to put her trust in NASA. In my opinion it is an agency that is a-political and non-nationalistic. It has one goal: scientific truth. It does not care about a scientist’s nationality, religion or political persuasion. NASA only cares about discovering the truth and using it for the benefit of all mankind.

Whereas there are many political motivations to embrace or reject the science of climate change, the gringa will put her trust in NASA. Whereas there are many financial gain motivations that cause people to embrace or reject suggested technologies to help curb climate change, the gringa will put her trust in what NASA advises. So, what is it that they have to say?

First, NASA will present how the Earth is reacting to the rise of gases in the atmosphere that trap heat. These are the gases causing climate change. NASA’s OCO-2 mission (Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2) is a satellite designed for the purpose of measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Presently, as mankind burns fossil fuels around the world, the land and oceans absorb about half of the carbon dioxide emissions such action generates. But remember, the earth itself produces its own natural levels of CO2. Mankind is heaping its own contribution atop that. A full year of data collected by OCO-2 has been analyzed by NASA experts. The key question is whether or not the oceans, forests and ecosystems can sustain the current fifty percent absorption level of CO2.

Mankind is contributing to an atmospheric level of carbon dioxide that has reached a concentration point (400 parts per million) that is higher than it has ever been in over 400,000 years. This level continues to rise about 2 parts per million per year. In the years since the industrial revolution, the earth has experienced a 250% increase of carbon based emissions. It only took mankind about two hundred years to do that.

So, if nothing changes, it is a certainty that carbon emissions will increase. As the ecosystems continue their work as the lungs of the earth, will they be able to sustain their current efficiency? As warming of the earth continues, these ecosystems are affected and changed. Will these changes result in lowering the efficiency of the earth to breathe or increase its efficiency, causing the earth to gasp, or will it simply evolve to compensate and its ability to filter out these toxins from the atmosphere remain the same? Those are the only logical conclusions of our current environmental predicament. It has to be one of those three.

The deputy project scientist of the OCO-2 mission, Annmarie Eldering of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has stated that “… carbon dioxide is the largest human-produced driver of our changing climate…” That is actually good news. If dangerous levels of carbon emissions are not a natural condition but, rather, an artificially created condition by mankind, mankind can then make changes and lower these dangerous carbon emission levels. If we will only do it.

Life as we know it definitely has to change. Change is always uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful. The largest contributors of carbon emissions are populations that are enjoying the benefits of the technologies that are creating the problems. Can spoiled, grown up children really be expected to give up some of their toys or, at the least, limit the amount of time they play with them?

Mankind not only has to consider its physical contribution of pollutants that end up directly in the atmosphere, but also the things that we do that harms the lungs of the earth. Can mankind really afford to upset the balance of the world’s oceans and ancient forests? If we don’t change our ways it’s essentially no different than a human continuing to smoke two packs a day even though their doctor has told them they have lung cancer.

As conditions created by mankind causes atmospheric temperatures to rise, the oceans warm. Phytoplankton is the first link in the ocean’s ecosystem chain. And now that link is showing evidence of change in reaction to warmer oceanic temperatures. Mike Behrenfeld, the principal investigator for NASA’s mission of studying the largest natural phytoplankton bloom, said: “Phytoplankton are not only influenced by climate, but they also influence climate.” Everything on earth is interconnected, co-dependent, if the phytoplankton goes, we all go.

So, as the climate warms and changes the ecosystem, what about carbon emissions? Will the changes result in a rise or fall in atmospheric levels? Will the delicate balance remain the same? According to NASA’s decade long investigation “Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment” scientists have determined that as warmer temperatures result in Arctic permafrost thaw and increase forest fires, atmospheric carbon levels will increase. The chain reaction will be that the natural features of earth that act as the lungs that breathe for our world, will slowly deteriorate and be destroyed. The breath of the earth will slowly disappear as lung capacity diminishes.

In fact, NASA researchers have established a definitive link between forest wildfires in the Amazon with powerful hurricanes in the North Atlantic. One natural disaster feeds another. Warm ocean water is the fuel needed for devastating hurricanes. Warmer ocean temperatures are created when the lungs of the world, ancient forests, are decimated. So, deforestation raises carbon levels which warms the ocean which feeds a massive hurricane which reduces atmospheric moisture which creates dry conditions which contributes to decimating forest fires which leads to…. Are you following the gringa’s logic here?

University of California Earth System Scientist James Randerson concluded, “Keeping fire out of the Amazon basin is critical from a carbon cycle perspective.” And yet the forests burn. The most irresponsible deforesters are big business, often the mining industry or petroleum companies. The indigenous people understand their inter-dependence on the forest. They tend to respect what feeds and houses them. Big business, however, is only there temporarily to exploit the natural resources. Hence, the irresponsibility.

So, the predicted increase of a two parts per million annual increase of carbon dioxide could end up being much, much more. The earth could see a chain reaction event, a snowball effect, a runaway train rise of greenhouse gases that gets way beyond mankind’s ability to affect any manner of control or reversal of effects. That is the tipping point, the point of no return. That does not mean Armageddon and the destruction of all mankind. It does mean life as we know it will be over.

A runaway train event of global climate change would mean areas that once were agricultural breadbaskets could become deserts. Areas that are richly inhabited coastal areas could become reefs. Areas that were ancient forested Amazonian jungle could become barren and unable to sustain the indigenous populations that lived off the land.

A runaway train event of global climate change will mean mass migrations of humanity to areas that are capable of providing crops and freshwater. Cartography will become big business as coastlines change and borders move. In fact, borders could very well become a thing of the past as a global population undergoes a migrational shift such as has never been seen before.

NASA’s plans for the future:

  • A 2016 atmospheric carbon emission study over the skies of the United States
  • Coral Airborne Laboratory mission in 2016 to study the world’s coral reefs and changing pH levels of the oceans as they absorb increasing levels of carbon emissions
  • Pre-Aerosol, Clouds and Ocean Ecosystem satellite deployment to measure phytoplankton from orbit
  • Integration into the International Space Station of the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation and ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment which will observe plants and forests

NASA’s contribution to solving our world’s environmental issues is critical. However, just as you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, NASA can educate the world on the facts and that’s it. Mankind must make the determination to act upon those facts. And the gringa thinks that sooner is better than later.

Source & Photo Credit:






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A barrio gringa with a dream of cosmic proportions: writing to satiate my insatiable curiosity, worldwide literacy beginning with our youth, and to be the first barrio gringa to explore outer space!

4 thoughts on “The Breath of the Earth”

  1. As usual, you do a great job of explaining the basics of a very complicated puzzle. I did a couple of hefty online courses on Climate Change and on Sustainability, and all your numbers add up. Except you forgot to factor in population increase – at the rate we’re going, we’ll be 9 B in 2050 – and the fact it’s not just the “spoiled grown-up children” who don’t want to give up their lifestyle, but the ones who never had it good and want the same toys too! NASA and other scientists are doing their bit, but humans (and politicians, and lobbies) are the problem!


  2. What about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? We don’t need a satellite to point that out. Yet it goes ignored by the very environmentalists that want to collect the globalist one world carbon tax. You say NASA is not nationalistic yet the N stands for national, not that I understand why that in and of itself would cause me to doubt. This is an organization with ties to Nazi rocket scientists, operation paperclip and the whole thing with Stanley Kubrick.
    A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.
    Hegelian Dialectica. Problem reaction solution. They want a global tax. They create a problem so they get the reaction that leads to the solution. Meanwhile the GPGP silently grows.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Shakeymclovin for your feedback. As for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and environmentalist groups, that was not the subject matter of this particular post. The exclusion of such does not mean it is ignored. In order to keep my post to a reasonable length, I cannot include every environmental subject.
      As for the “N” in NASA meaning “National”, yes, you are correct, it does. The conception of NASA during the time of the Cold War most certainly indicates it originally was a nationalistic agency. Fortunately, however, our nation has not remained in the nationalistic mentality of the 1950’s and 1960’s but has evolved to appreciate international cooperation. NASA is the perfect example of how a globalist, rather than nationalist, approach to world issues can succeed. The fact that the “N” remains in the name of the agency does not really matter in light of the agency’s actions. It is a part of the agency’s name, not its philosophy.
      Did NASA employ scientists who were once working for the Nazi regime? Yes. Did that mean that the U.S. supported Nazi ideology? No. It means that they well understood the brilliance of these scientists and rather than let the enemies of our nation grow stronger by benefiting from their knowledge, they gave them safe haven in exchange for their knowledge strengthening our nation. Also, many of these scientists may have been members of the Nazi party, but not because they believed in Nazi ideology, but so they could survive and not be imprisoned (or worse). It was so for many Germans.
      What was the purpose of Operation Paperclip? Was it to Nazify the U.S.? No. It was to deny German scientific expertise to U.S. enemies as well as U.S. allies. It was a strategic move to strengthen the nation.
      As for the “whole thing with Stanley Kubrick”, I’m not even sure what you mean. He was a famous filmmaker with works like “Clockwork Orange”, “The Killing”, “Spartacus”, etc. He was also an incredible chess player.
      As for the Antarctic ice sheet increasing in concentration, that will not reverse the effects of what is happening in the Arctic. As the Arctic shrinks, sea levels still rise, the ocean still warms and the hurricane/drought/forest fire cycle that contributes to increase carbon emissions still continues.
      As for your reference to “Hegelian Dialectica”, I do not doubt that all governments around the world use propaganda to manage the ideas and reactions of their populations. However, as globalism increases and information is so readily available as never before not to mention a world community connected via the Internet and able to exchange ideas, I choose not to focus on such paranoid ideas. I prefer to continue to study all angles of an issue and stick with what I can prove as true. Science allows just that which is one reason I choose to follow NASA so closely.
      Every nation has a dark past and dark programs. However, I also do not live in the past. The government of the U.S. is by no means perfect or innocent of doing things they shouldn’t to their own populace. However, in a nation such as the U.S. the people enjoy something that many people around the world do not enjoy, the ability to influence and affect change for the better. I therefore do not deny the dark abilities of my government, I simply believe that the historical evidence proves that my nation continues to move forward and change for the better.


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