Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Another stupid prophecy of doom
Now we're running out of carbon! You can't win, can you? It reminds me of a Greenie scare in the '70s that said we are running out of phosphorus -- and we need phosphorus for our bones. Then there was a huge phosphate discovery in North Africa! So that one died. The lesson: Greenie estimates of available resources are self-important crap
Researchers have issued a chilling warning that life on Earth is unsustainable for humans unless there are major changes.
Unless we slow the destruction of Earth's declining supply of plant life, civilization like it is now may become completely unsustainable, according to a new paper.
It claims that humans have 'depleted the Earth's battery'.
'You can think of the Earth like a battery that has been charged very slowly over billions of years,' said the study's lead author, John Schramski, an associate professor in UGA's College of Engineering.
'The sun's energy is stored in plants and fossil fuels, but humans are draining energy much faster than it can be replenished.'
Earth was once a barren landscape devoid of life, he explained, and it was only after billions of years that simple organisms evolved the ability to transform the sun's light into energy.
This eventually led to an explosion of plant and animal life that bathed the planet with lush forests and extraordinarily diverse ecosystems.
The study's calculations, published by University of Georgia researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are grounded in the fundamental principles of thermodynamics, a branch of physics concerned with the relationship between heat and mechanical energy.
Chemical energy is stored in plants, or biomass, which is used for food and fuel, but which is also destroyed to make room for agriculture and expanding cities.
Scientists estimate that the Earth contained approximately 1,000 billion tons of carbon in living biomass 2,000 years ago.
Since that time, humans have reduced that amount by almost half. It is estimated that just over 10 percent of that biomass was destroyed in just the last century.
'If we don't reverse this trend, we'll eventually reach a point where the biomass battery discharges to a level at which Earth can no longer sustain us,' Schramski said.
Working with James H. Brown from the University of New Mexico, Schramski and UGA's David Gattie, an associate professor in the College of Engineering, show that the vast majority of losses come from deforestation, hastened by the advent of large-scale mechanized farming and the need to feed a rapidly growing population.
As more biomass is destroyed, the planet has less stored energy, which it needs to maintain Earth's complex food webs and biogeochemical balances.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).