Humans, the Great Polluters…Not Hardly

If you think humans are polluting the planet to a degree never before seen in history, well, “You’re suffering from a species-level delusion of grandeur,” insists science writer Annalee Newitz in her new book, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember. “We’re not even the first creatures to pollute the Earth so much that other creatures go extinct.” That foul distinction belongs to ancient cousins of ours: cyanobacteria.

About 2.5 billion years ago, the Earth was much different than it is today. Rotating at faster speeds, there were about 450 20-hour days in a year. Far from cool and invigorating, the planet’s atmosphere was superheated, and comprised mostly of methane and carbon, not oxygen and nitrogen, the primary constituents of today’s atmosphere. The surface was no more hospitable to modern life. Magma seeped and bubbled amidst immense, acidic oceans. 2.5 billion years ago, Earth was a hot mess.

But in this environment — one we would deem noxious — life persisted. Oxygen-despising anaerobic bacteria floated in the ocean deep, kept cozy by hot magma streams. They subsisted on simple amino acids and sugars. Earth was turbulent, but alive.

Then cyanobacteria ruined everything. As the first organisms to use photosynthesis, they drank in the oceans’ water and absorbed photons from sunlight, using the energy from those photons to separate water’s two hydrogen molecules from its lone oxygen molecule. Afterwards, the microbes consumed the hydrogen and spit out the oxygen as a waste product.

This recipe was so successful that after millions of years cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, nearly blanketed the planet’s surface, continuously belching boatloads of oxygen in the process. All of the smokestacks from all of today’s factories and power plants couldn’t come close to their polluting prowess.

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Eventually, Earth’s natural oxygen absorbers — like iron — became saturated with the gaseous element, and an “oxygen apocalypse” ensued. We recognize oxygen as a bringer of life, but it’s also a powerful degrader of organic compounds and quite toxic to anaerobes. With oxygen now suffusing throughout the atmosphere, pretty much all life except the cyanobacteria gradually became extinct. Excess oxygen also reacted with the atmosphere’s methane, turning it into a weaker greenhouse gas: carbon dioxide. With a diminished ability to retain heat, the planet entered an ice age that lasted upwards of 300 million years!

One thing that this fascinating, true story demonstrates is that one bacteria’s trash is another life form’s treasure. Over many millions of years, organisms evolved that could use the built-up oxygen, mixing it with sugars to create energy. Pollution problem solved.

Will we ever atone for the dirty sins of our blue-green cousins and give the Earth totally back to the anaerobes? Probably not. It will take a far more concerted pollution effort than the comparatively paltry one we are currently mustering.

Attribution: Ross Pomeroy, RealScience

 

None of the Above

By: The Common Constitutionalist

 

Remember this from 2008?

Obama told us what he intended. Did we not hear him when he said he was ideologically opposed to coal? If we heard him, did we not believe him? Did we not believe he would actually find a way to shut down the coal industry? If we believed him, did we think we could stop him?

Well, it’s taken a few years but it is evident that he and his EPA are well on their way to fulfilling that 2008 promise. If unchecked, the EPA will successfully shut down many coal plants across this country, and yes, your electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket.

He was also quite clear about his intentions for “clean energy” generation. How has that worked out? Was no one listening to his words, knowing one at all?

Obama has stated on many occasions, he is in favor of the “all of the above” energy policy. This obviously is a crock. It is clear, at least to me, that he and his entire administration are anti-hydrocarbon.

The Washington Post reports that “the new proposed EPA rules will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average US natural gas plant which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets the current standard; coal plants however emit an average of 1768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.”

So, you say, at least we have the natural gas option. We’ve all heard there is more than enough natural gas in this country to power us for decades, if not centuries to come. Unfortunately the EPA has also begun blocking the use of hydraulic fracturing or fracking to get to the natural gas. And how long will it be before the EPA adjusts its standards to disallow natural gas plants?

So we have an administration that has begun to shut down the coal plants, won’t allow new ones to be built, won’t allow drilling for oil anywhere, and will not allow fracturing for production of natural gas. And please don’t buy the line of bull Obama is trying to sell, that domestic oil production is up. He is right that production is up from recent levels, but not due to any of his or his administration’s efforts. The oil production that has increased has all been on private land and has nothing to do with him. At present he has no authority to halt that drilling but his EPA has begun trying to slow the production of oil on these private lands. Congratulations! 

I guess we all should stock up on walking shoes and candles.

But hey, at least we’ll have a clean planet, because as we all know, the science of global warming is settled. It’s been proven, apparently, that man-caused CO2 emissions are causing global warming.

Wouldn’t it be weird, if some team of scientists discovered that man-made CO2 emissions don’t cause global warming?

Stay tuned.

Another Green President, Perhaps

With the recent shakeup in the republican primary, Mitt Romney can no longer be considered the prohibitve favorite. I still think he is favored, but it’s getting very interesting.

With that said, do we really want or need another global warming advocate in the White House? Is Mitt a greenie or a flip flopper? You decide.

I guess I wouldn’t classify Mitt Romney’s positions on Global Warming, Flip Flops. I would say it’s more of a slow climb over a fence, climbing from the left to the right side of the fence.

First you’re on one side. Then you climb up, you straddle said fence while you inspect the lay of the land on the other side and then climb down. Voilà, you have changed your position.

As recently as his 2010 book, No Apology, Romney wrote, “I believe that climate change is occurring. … I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much is attributable to factors out of our control.”

In June of 2011 he said, “I think the earth is getting warmer. … I think humans contribute to that. I don’t know by how much. It could be a little. It could be a lot.”

During a campaign stop back in October 2011 Mitt Romney stated, “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us,”

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said recently, “Governor Romney has been consistent in his statements on global warming.”

However, EPA Abuse reports:

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has had numerous positions on climate change, carbon dioxide and global warming over the years.
His most recent views seem conservative, but as governor of Massachusetts, his views were in line with Al Gore’s views.

Human Events columnist Deroy Murdock recently outlined some of these “hot and cold” positions on global warming from the man who wishes to be President of the United States.

Murdock notes:
In 2004, Romney launched the Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan, “a coordinated statewide response to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the climate,” as his office described it.

Romney’s December 7, 2005 press release announced, “Strict state limitations on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants take effect on January 1, 2006.”

“These carbon emission limits will provide real and immediate progress in the battle to improve our environment,” Romney said. This red tape, the communiqué noted, is designed to lower emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury from power plant smokestacks.” Furthermore, the experts whom Romney consulted “include John Holdren [sic]…at Harvard University.”

“Romney (or his staff) was misled by John ‘Holdren’ [sic], a rabid environmentalist and collaborator of the notorious Paul Ehrlich.

John Holdren is now Obama’s science adviser,” says Dr. S. Fred Singer, Ph.D., a University of Virginia professor emeritus of physics and environmental science and the U.S. Weather Satellite Service’s founding director. “They consider CO2 a pollutant and mention it along with sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury — all real pollutants, injurious to human health. Clearly, they had no clue about the science.”

“No one would choose such a green course, enlist such advisors, and then suddenly reverse himself,” the Cato Institute’s Dr. Patrick Michaels, Ph.D., tells me. “As president, Romney will revert to his more familiar green self.”

Now, let’s juxtapose Rick Santorum’s (you know, the real conservative) view on the subject:

“There is no such thing as global warming,” he told a smiling Glenn Beck on Fox News in June 2011. That same month, he told Rush Limbaugh that climate change is a liberal conspiracy: “It’s just an excuse for more government control of your life and I’ve never been for any scheme or even accepted the junk science behind the whole narrative.”
Santorum accused the EPA of acting on a philosophy of “We hate carbon, we hate fossil fuels, we hate blue-collar Americans who work in those areas.”

“Drill everywhere” is his philosophy when it comes to oil, he told Beck.

Santorum doesn’t see what the big fuss is about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline traversing the Ogallala Aquifer. “Has anybody looked at the number of pipelines that go through that aquifer now? I mean, you can’t even see the aquifer if you look at a schematic of how many pipelines are there,” he told Iowans at a Dec. 31 rally. Opposition to the pipeline is just “pandering to radical environmentalists who don’t want energy production, who don’t want us to burn more carbon,” he continued. “… It has to do with an ideology, a religion of its own that’s being pushed on the American public.”

Seems pretty cut and dry to me.

Attribution: UK Guardian, CBS News