Doubling Down on Global Climate Action
At the WEF Sustainable Development Impact Summit, former US Vice President Al Gore reminded us again that even though the sky seems a vast and limitless expanse; our earth’s atmosphere is really a thin and fragile layer of gases (78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.4% water vapor, 0.93% Argon, 0.03% carbon dioxide, trace methane, hydrogen, neon, helium), that maintains and protects our earth home’s unique goldilocks climate habitable for life.
Disrupt one (or more) of earth’s goldilocks conditions- earth’s gravity, distance to our primary energy source-the sun, ideal mass, plate tectonics (essential for ecosystems forming), balance of thermal radiation, abundance of water, ideal range of temperature, and perfect composition of gases in the atmosphere… and the mobile of life adapted and evolved to earth’s environment will change, dramatically.
Planetary-Scale Influencers- Bacteria and Humans
Over the course of life’s history on earth, only two organisms are known to have had a planetary scale influence on earth’s climate-the temperature, water, and thermal radiation balance.
The first organism is cyanobacteria. The oldest known fossils of cyanobacteria (life) are from the Archean rocks of western Australia and date back 3.5 billion years. Cyanobacteria were blue-green algae that by 2.7 billion years ago began to photosynthesize-produce carbonates (food) and oxygen. Why is this important? Cyanobacteria enhanced earth’s environment in a positive direction to support a rapid explosion of life and acceleration of biodiversity on our Oikos (Eiko)- Home planet.
The second organism is a humanoid called Homo sapiens. Welcome to the Anthropocene. Now, in the last two seconds of life’s evolutionary history (to date, if the 3.7 billion years were represented in a 24-hour clock) we humans (7.8 billion people) are having quite the opposite effect on our goldilocks planet as our early cyanobacteria ancestors. Instead of enhancing the quality of our air with rich oxygen like cyanobacteria, humans are polluting our air with excessive CO2, particulates, and contaminants driven by our industrial-manufacturing processes, excessive fossil fuel (coal, oil, natural gas) activities, commercial agriculture, and extensive land clearing urban development. Unlike cyanobacteria, we are consuming, burning, and respiring more carbohydrates (life-food) and the natural resources upon which they depend, than we are replenishing raw resources back into the earth’s natural system. Consequently, when we calculate our real Global Footprint– our bio capacity and resource use (carbon, timber, land-ocean wildlife, soils); we find that each year most countries are running a chronic nature deficit… And, on a planet with finite natural resources that is not such a smart, evolutionary idea for our species– nor other living beings interdependent upon us.