Bare Bones Biology 041 – Air

The question was: “I don’t understand why the air can be harmful to us.” Good question, big question, and here’s what I think.

Air is not nothing, because if we were outside of our ecosystem we would die from having no air. The air is made and regulated by the living ecosystem, very much in the same way as water also is made and regulated by the ecosystem, and they are both – air and water – a part of the whole giant circulatory system of the whole living earth that lets us live inside it.

Water molecules are made of atoms of oxygen and atoms of hydrogen that are joined together with energy bonds. Air is made of molecules of carbon dioxide and also some water molecules and oxygen and hydrogen and nitrogen. Air and water share their atoms. They both have waves; they both have force when they are moving; they both are necessary for life; and they both recycle throughout the ecosystem including through our own bodies, as they move and flow over the face of the earth.

Pure water is clear as crystal. We can see straight through to the bottom of the pond, but if the water becomes polluted with other molecules that are not water, then we may not be able to see through it. If you would pour a red liquid into water, you could see that you can mix it with the waves and currents of the water. If we stood up over the air and poured a red gas into the waves and currents of the air, we would see that it also mixes. The Texas air that I breathed when I first moved here 25 years ago was crystal clear. Today we are pouring so many kinds of unnatural stuff into the air that now you can’t even see the bottom from an airplane. And we think that is normal. It’s not normal. I rode in airplanes before we poured our junk into the air. It was crystal clear.

The circulation of air and water through the ecosystem depends on all the plants and all the different animals of the ecosystem that exchange atoms and molecules with the air and with the water. Every kind of atom or molecule has a different function in keeping the whole system healthy.

When something unnatural is added to the system, then the whole ecosystem must also change as it tries to rebalance to stay healthy. In the same way and for the same reasons that you require the flow of blood, energized by your beating heart and filtered by your kidneys, the ecosystem requires the flow of the air and water, energized by the sun, and filtered through all the different kinds of living plants and animals to do the myriad of processes that keep us alive.

But the more interesting thing to me personally is that I came here 25 years ago because the air in cities made me sick, and I felt a joy my body those first few years that I will probably never know again. Now my air has poisons from flea spot medicine, the over-ground septic tank, horse worm medicine, all of our cars and other engines, Roundup and other pesticides and herbicides from the corn and cotton fields, perfumes, cigarettes, candle smoke, paint, particle board, asphalt, deodorants, and the media won’t talk about the suffering of the people who breath that air, and are poisoned by it — but only about the drug companies that will give us something to relieve our suffering — and that medicine will then be washed into the water cycle and back to the air.

And the worse thing is, we are trying to fix it with reductionist problem solving. And that only makes it worse.

Bare Bones Biology 041
KEOS 89.1, Bryan, Texas