Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Here today, gone tomorrow?


             "Who was that Neanderthal I saw you with last night?"
             "That was no Neanderthal. That was my Cro-Magnon."
                                                     ***
        Between 98 and 99.9% of all species that ever walked, crawled, swam, flew, or ran for office anywhere on Earth are now extinct. (No, you don't get to pick which ones stay and which go.)
        But, as some species become extinct, others manage to adapt to a changing environment and thrive. It's called 'evolution' and has been going on for all the billions of years since life first appeared on Earth.
        "But, if we keep burning fossil fuels and carbon dioxide increases, won't that tip the balance? Won't we ALL soon become extinct? I saw this movie..."
        Maybe time for a little perspective here. Movies are fun. Go, eat some popcorn, have a few laughs...but don't think you're watching a lecture by Albert Einstein. Make believe is, well, make believe.
        'Sea snails', for instance, are less than one-half inch in size and with very delicate, fragile shells. If the carbon dioxide dissolved in the ocean increases and  this damages their shells, could the snails be hurt and possibly even become extinct? Well, maybe. But, at the same time,
         The oceans are also filled with 'Phytoplankton' which are microscopic 'plants' that make their own food from carbon dioxide. If carbon dioxide in the oceans increases, they grow and thrive, i.e. "Viva la food chain!"
        In other words, maybe it's time to take a deep breath and calm down a little. There's a lot we don't know and, despite the assertions of some people who should  know better, this whole subject is far from 'settled science.'
        Maybe even time to give up the politically correct greeting, "Hi. The Koch brothers are eating your children" and go back to the old fashioned, "Hello," which is rumored to still be popular in some remote parts of the country and can be very soothing.