Have you ever stopped to wonder about Earth and the solar system; outer space. Sometimes when we start to think of the bigger picture it all becomes a bit much. It can become all too much to stomach and get our heads around and we would preference sticking our heads in the sand. Or at least forgetting we are part of a larger universe and believe it or not every choice we make will make a difference.
So let’s step back to this magnificent planet we grew from called Earth; the third planet from the sun in our solar system. It is by any feat of the imagination an amazing place. Earth, we think, was formed at about the same time as the sun some 4.6billion years ago. That’s right, when you compare humans lifetime on the earth we have been here for around 3 seconds.
The earth is the only planet we know about who can sustain life in support life in all its forms: from basic living micro-organisms to highly sophisticated and intelligent human beings. So if we bugger up Earth we currently have nowhere else to go.
Why can we live on this planet?
- Breathable atmosphere. About 500 million years ago large amounts of oxygen were released into the atmosphere from ocean plankton. Making earth’s atmosphere breathable for the first time in its existence. Today 21% of the earth’s atmosphere is made up of oxygen and the world’s ocean plants still contribute between 50 – 85% of the oxygen into the Earth’s atmosphere through a process called photosynthesis.
- A suitable stable climate caused by the moderate amount of carbon in the atmosphere through Earth’s inbuilt thermostat. Remarkably stable in fact remaining in the liveable range for almost 4 billion years.
- Water in abundance in three forms frozen (ice), Liquid (seas/lakes) and Gas (clouds). The importance of this is the ability for these three forms of water to regulate and store carbon dioxide.
- Regular Sun Light (24 hours) promotes plant growth and photosynthesis (the plants process of releasing oxygen). As mentioned one of the most important factors in being able to create this breathable atmosphere we currently enjoy.
- The perfect distance from the Sun so we don’t burn up and fry.
- Our Ozone Layer prevents harmful UV Rays from the sun hitting the earth’s surface.
- Earth’s Magnetic Sphere protects the atmosphere from suns radiation.
It is quite amazing.
But there are some questions on the horizon like is this era of climate stability coming to an end? So far 400 generations of human beings have enjoyed climate stability, allowing us to prosper and thrive. Over this period we have had patches of higher than normal warmth and stretches of below average coolness dispersing society and moving us all over the planet.
It has only been in recent times where we have been filling the air with as many greenhouse gases as we can and the damage it is doing is heading us down the path of deep destruction of the climate as we know it but why, how does earth regulate its temperature and what do humans have to do with it?