Chapter 4: Changing the Planet
Chapter 4: Changing the Planet PLS 150
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Chelsea Opong-Wadeer on Monday September 26, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PLS 150 at University of Rhode Island taught by Nathaniel Mitkowski in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 75 views. For similar materials see Plants, People and the Planet in Plant Science at University of Rhode Island.
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Date Created: 09/26/16
Chapter 4: Changing the Planet 9/26/16 Before Plants: Very little oxygen Poison atmosphere (H, He, CO2, CO, SO2, S2, CL2, NH3, CH4) Marginal life lived off of above elements Very hot, very little liquid water Highly volcanic Then Plants evolved: Started as cyanobacteria Simple, single celled "bacteria" Photosynthetic o Can take the suns energy and turn it into oxygen Produced 99% of the oxygen at the time of atmospheric conversion Oxygen allowed for true plants and other life to evolve and colonize Overall turned the planet into what it is today Oxygen: Respiration requires oxygen (O2) Burning sugar for energy Plants make oxygen an use it also the main component of O3 Oxygen we breathe is O2 and O3 (ozone) is toxic Without ozone, life gets a terminal case of cancer... What about carbon dioxide? Plentiful at Earth's beginning Toxic to aerobic life (aerobic means Oxygen) o Anti-aerobic: non-oxygen Plants "fixed" some CO2 Main ingredient of photosynthesis Locked away for millions of years in plants and plant products (oil) Oceans absorbed the rest o Ocean is a "sink" for carbon dioxide cause it absorbs carbon dioxide Why is this bad? - (The Carbon Dioxide levels rising) 400ppm vs pre-industrial 280ppm Levels of 30 million years ago CO2 holds heat in the atmosphere Plants helped cool the atmosphere Burning oil reverses the process The planet is heating up.... So what? Who cares? Melting ice= high sea levels Ocean acidification Unpredictable/severe weather Permanent regional changes o Example China, deserts blooming Famine, global unrest, extinctions Human health crises o Example Zika virus was only a tropical disease but hit Florida Denial, not just a river... Political and economic reasons on why people don't like to talk about climate change Belief that process is natural, it not Belief that we cannot change the Earth Unfamiliar with the data Scientific "sky is falling", fallibility of predictive models o People don't think scientists know what they're talking about Other GH Gases: Methane (CH4) - stored under soil and oceans, animal waste, etc. Nitrous oxide (N2O) - fertilizer, combustion CFC-12, HCFC-22. -refrigerants Halomethanes and other Methane: Multiple sources Significant amount stored in permafrost and in cold, arctic water Positive feedback, permafrost melts, methane released, more melts Halomethanes and other Permafrost is deep underground/frozen ground that holds methane Poor predictions: One year does not make a trend o Next 10 coldest years, that's a trend Predictions depend on accurate assumptions Single events can alter whole models (the 2008 economic crash) Climate is notoriously unpredictable (ask a weatherman) What are the real questions? How much heat is human, how is natural (CO2 exclusively human) How severe the consequences? How fast will it all happen? Can it be stopped (probably not) and how do we deal with it?
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