Bare Bones Biology 093 – Climate Change II

Relax. Sit down or lie down. Don’t go to sleep. Don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow. Think about your breath. Breathe in. Air comes in through your nose to all the little channels of your breathing system. That is your respiratory system. The air ends up in your lungs.

Breathe out.
Breathe in.

Air contains oxygen and carbon dioxide and some other things. The delicate tissues that line the inside of your lungs. The tissues are so thin the oxygen can go across to where there are blood vessels and red blood cells waiting to carry the oxygen to every cell in your body. Without the oxygen, you die.

Breathe out.
Breathe in.

The cells use the oxygen to burn carbohydrates. The carbohydrates come from your food, but that’s a story for another time. The oxygen burns the carbohydrates and that releases energy. Just like in your fireplace burning carbohydrates (wood or coal or gas or oil) releases energy. But the wonder of cells is they can capture this energy and use it to do the work of staying alive.

Breathe in.
Because you won’t be alive if your cells are not alive.

When carbohydrates burn, there are waste products. All this happens inside your cells. The waste products are water and carbon dioxide. The water cycle is a story for another time. The cells then release the carbon dioxide into the blood that is on its way back to the lungs. In the lungs, the carbon dioxide crosses the other way, from the inside of your body to the inside of your lungs, across the very delicate moist tissues that line the inside of your lungs. The carbon dioxide then is a part of the air that is the climate inside your lungs.

Breathe out.

The air that is inside your lungs goes out into the space around you, which is the air of the whole living earth. Seven billion people on earth are all doing this at the same time. It makes a difference in the amount of carbon dioxide in the air of the earth. Also all the cars are burning carbohydrates and blowing carbon dioxide (and other things) out into the air. And also all the factories and everything that releases energy from carbohydrates by burning the carbohydrates.

Breathe in. Listen to your breath. You are breathing in the air of the earth.
Breathe out. Listen to your breath. You are changing the air of the earth.

Meantime, the plants are breathing in carbon dioxide from the air of the earth. The plant cells unhook the oxygen from the carbon. And the plants use the carbon, and the energy from sunlight – to make carbohydrates. And then the plants use the carbohydrates to make food for the entire living ecosystem, including you, sitting there on your cushion. And then tell me that you are not connected to the living earth. Tell me you don’t need pure air. Tell me you don’t care if the air has too much carbon dioxide or too much carbon monoxide or too much of something that will damage a cell in your lungs and make a cancer grow in there.

You breathe in.
You breathe out.

The air cycling within your body depends entirely upon the air cycling outside your body. The air that is cycling outside your body is the breathing system of the whole living earth. You are alive because your respiratory system is able to maintain a healthy balance between your body’s internal climate, and the climate of the whole living earth. In fact, the inside of your body is part of the climate of the earth. No mystery. No debate.

Breath in.
Breath out.

The whole living earth — stays in balance by constantly changing.
If the climate of the earth could not change – the earth could not stay alive.
There is nothing to debate. The only question is how it will change and what will happen after that.

Bare Bones Biology 093 – Climate Change
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at http://BareBonesBiology.com

Suggested Reading: Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook at https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com, Post Carbon Reader at http://www.PCI.org

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Bitsy’s expressions are easy to read

When she is driving her car from the passenger seat Bitsy has this self-satisfied look, interested in everything, but looking down upon it all, as from a throne. You can see the half-smile in this picture taken while she was in charge of watching the road and I was in charge of driving.

Then we stopped and the stranger got in the car, and I made Bitsy give up her seat and move to the back. She worried about that, trying to decide — who knows what dogs are trying to decide, but sometimes they sneak up behind and nip strangers, and she can be aggressive, so I wanted to be careful. I told her very firmly that she must stay back there and behave. She ducked her head and scrunched down in the seat.

About halfway to our destination (do you think she knows I can see her in the mirror? I had stopped watching) she sneaked around the right side of the passenger seat and licked the stranger three times on the arm, then quick as a flash she was back in her place, sitting upright and looking unusually smug, and she stayed there for the rest of the drive.