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Weekly Newsletter

nce upon a time in a land far far away there


lived a king and queen. They were wonderful
monarchs and ruled over their people well.
They had only one fault - their fondness for candy.
Each morning they would sit on their balcony and
eat hundreds of candies; big ones, small ones,
caramels and toffees and taffies and every kind of
candy you could think of. They threw the wrappers
over the balcony, and there they lay on the floor
outside. Layer upon layer the mound grew, and the
king and queen got fatter and fatter. A few people
claimed that if the mound was not dealt with it would
soon cover the whole kingdom. Skeptics ridiculed
them, claiming that there had been mounds like this
before, and it was just a cycle that would soon
finish. The mound began to cover the kingdom.
People refused to acknowledge it, and went on with
their daily lives.
That kingdom is Earth, the only planet in the
universe known to support life.
. . .
According to Wikipedia, A greenhouse
gasis a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and
emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. In
other more understandable terms, this means it is a
gas which allows light and heat to pass through it
but not return. Some examples of this are Water
vapor (H2O), made when you boil your kettle;
Carbon dioxide (CO2), made from that campfire you
made when you took your kids camping; Methane
(CH4), made from certain bodily functions; Nitrous
oxide (N2O), used in car engines; Ozone (O3), the
stuff that keeps our skin from burning in the sun;
and CFCs, released from refrigerators and other
household appliances.
Despite being portrayed as a bad gas that
is causing Global Warming, CO
2
in fact plays a
crucial role in the atmosphere. It is responsible for
the regulation of the earths surface temperature. It
is also essential for plant growth and therefore
indirectly is the source of oxygen for humans and
animals. Earth would not have a present-day
Biosphere without CO
2
.
If all this is true, then what is the big deal
about CO
2
emissions? Should we not then begin to
emit more CO
2
and improve our biosphere? Well, in
fact the problem does not lie at CO
2
emissions. The
problem lies at excess emissions. Volcanoes,
animals, wildfires, all of these emit carbon gas.
These are all part of the carbon cycle, where carbon
is emitted and absorbed and emitted again and
again. Humans have begun to work outside of this
cycle we have begun to make more than is our
due. Factories, cars, planes, and even your own
lungs emit CO
2
. With the population booming over
the last few thousand years and the industrial
revolution underway these emissions have risen to
almost 500% of the normal amount over the last
200 years.
o

The Earth needs
heroes
-Daniel Debeer
E
In the movie An Inconvenient Truth,
starring former vice-president Al Gore, viewers are
shown a graph that depicts the concentrations of
CO
2
in the atmosphere. It shows that the carbon
dioxide in the Earths atmosphere (in Parts Per
Million) is the highest in 800,000 years. In 2013, for
the first time ever in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, a
measuring station recorded 400 ppm. Sir Brian
Hoskins of the Royal Society said that the 400ppm
landmark should "jolt governments into action"
1
.
Scientists predict that if 550 ppm is reached, the
present day biosphere will be damaged.
In the past, scientists have used many
methods to track CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
The best known of these is the drilling method.
Scientists drill into ice in the arctic regions and
extract cores, or long cylinders of ice, out of the
ground. By studying the amount of CO2 bubbles in
the core they can see how much (in PPM) was in
the atmosphere at that time. The lower down the
extracted sample is found, the older it is. Also, using
a microscope, scientists can count how many stoma
are on a fossil plants stem. Stoma are pores on the
surface of a plant's epidermis. They control gas
exchange. The more stoma there are, the more
carbon gas was present at the time when the plant
was fossilized. There are also machines that can
isolate carbon dioxide from samples in the present
and from the past (i.e. Fossilized).
The consequences for not dealing with
"...the biggest global crisis ever to face humanity..."
(Lee Sherman, Terra magazine associate editor)
are dire. The water from the melting polar ice caps
will engulf hundreds of major cities near the ocean.
Due to the rise in temperature, evaporation rates
will get higher and storms will be more frequent and
stronger. The melting of Greenlands ice could send
Europe into an ice age. The Ocean is responsible
for absorbing much CO2 in the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, due to excess levels, the ocean has
slowly been acidifying. The official formula for this is
H2O + CO2 --> H2CO3. It forms carbonic acid.
Many kinds of shellfish need the water to be a
certain pH, otherwise their shells liquefy. They are
near the bottom of the food chain - without them,
the whole system collapses. Similar economic

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problems will occur - people who once relied on fish
or birds or other natural resources will have
nowhere to turn. Riots will begin, and the system
would collapse.
What can YOU do to stop this horrible crisis
from continuing? It is very simple. In fact, there are
entire websites dedicated to this subject. Visit
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/ or
http://environment.about.com/od/globalwarming/tp/g
lobalwarmtips.html. Decide now to make a
difference and save our planet.
Grabianowski, Ed. "What Can I Do About Global Warming?."
HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks.com, 26 May 2005. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.
<http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-
science/question747.htm>.
"Greenhouse gas." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 4 July 2014.
Web. 7 Apr. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas>.
Lallanilla, Marc. "What Are Greenhouse Gases?." LiveScience.
TechMedia Network, 27 June 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.
<http://www.livescience.com/37821-greenhouse-gases.html>.
"What You Can Do about Global Warming." Union of Concerned
Scientists. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
<http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/what_you_can_do/>.