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Antarctica Glaciers

The science behind climate change

The earth’s climate has changed drastically over the decade. Geostationary satellites revolving around our planet help us see the big picture (quite literally), accumulating data constantly and updating us about the conditions of the Earth. Be it from the melting of polar ice caps to erratic monsoons and weather changes, and most definitely warming up of oceans to rise of sea levels. These events essentially indicate the dire condition of the climate all around the globe and its immediate need for attention.

The evidence behind climate change

  • Rising temperatures

Global warming is not a phenomenon we are unfamiliar with. It has had serious implications on our planet in various ways in the last decade and even before. Erratic rainfall, severe droughts, rising sea levels, etc. the main reason behind the rising of temperature was the increase in CO2 levels which was again caused due to pollution. In fact, the last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.

Global Temperature

  • Ocean acidification

Since the industrial revolution swept through our planet bringing in new opportunities, adversely it has brought about some pretty serious implications on our large water bodies. The acidity in ocean waters has increased by 30%. This is due to the CO2 which is being expelled in greater quantities and in turn being absorbed into the oceans. The amount increasing per year is a whopping 2 billion tons per year. And that is just the upper layer of oceans.

  • Extreme events

Certain events occurring around the globe have captured the attention of various environmentalists and scientists, such as in the United States the number of recorded high-temperature weather phenomenon has been increasing. On the other hand, the number of low-temperature weather phenomenon has been decreasing since 1950. The number of intense rainfall conditions has also increased in this time period.

  • Shrinking glacial cover

From the snowy peaks of Himalayas to the Andes, the Rockies, Alps, etc. glaciers are decreasing everywhere around the world. This is a serious indication of climate change and poses serious threats to sea levels and mountain animals. Even islands remain in threat of disappearing completely under the rising sea levels. Satellite observations have revealed how much of this is true. In the past five decades, the snow cover has melted over the Northern Hemisphere.

  • NASA’s data

The ice sheets that form a huge landmass of Greenland and Antarctica have diminished in mass. According to NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment data, every year the loss of ice is 281 billion tons between 1993 and 2016. In Antarctica, the loss is 119 billion tons in that same time period. On top of that, the rate of ice mass loss in Antarctica has tripled in the last ten years.

 

Signs and Science behind climate change

The various compounds, whose abrupt increase in our environment which has caused changes in our climate are CO2, CH4, N2O, O3, etc. Their formations have been explained below:-

6 O2 + C6H12O6 --------> 6 H2O + 6 CO2 + energy

This is the process of combustion during which O2 reacts with glucose (C6H12O6) to produce water (H2O) and CO2. These chemical reactions occur when organic matter burns in our environment releasing chemical energy in the form of heat and light.

CH3COOH --------> CO2 + CH4

This is the microbial process of methanogenesis during which acetate (CH3COOH) is split into CO2 and Methane (CH4). Methane has the greatest impact on freshwater wetlands and rice paddies. The amount of methane produced in these fields increases with the area of land required for these rice paddies. This is the direct impact of the human population on climate change.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is another contributing factor which is formed as a by-product of nitrification and denitrification.

CH4 + 4O2 --------> HCHO + H2O + 2O3

Smog is another pollutant that causes irritation of eyes and lungs, especially in city inhabitants. Tropospheric ozone (O3) is a constituent of smog that causes the mentioned problems.

NO2 + sunlight --------> NO + O

O + O2 --------> O3

NO2 + O2 --------> NO + O3

This is another process by which tropospheric ozone is emitted from atmospheric nitrate (NO2). First, the breakdown of nitrate occurs from which nitric oxide (NO) and an atom of oxygen (O) is obtained. After that, it combines with O2 and produces O3. Depicted above is the basic science behind climate change.

Random Quiz

Which of the following is not a greenhouse gas?

Correct! Wrong!

In order, the most abundant greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are Water vapor, Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide, Ozone, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrofluorocarbons (incl. HCFCs and HFCs). Carbon Monoxide does not cause climate change directly.


Main reasons behind climate change

We might not be able to notice changes in our Earth’s climate and enjoy it as normal. However, the Earth’s climate is ever-changing, more rapidly in these times than ever so before as seen in the geological record. There are a lot of reasons behind climate change and a lot of factors, natural and anthropogenic (human-induced) which has contributed to this. The rapid rate of climate change is now a great concern worldwide.

Here are some of the main reasons behind climate change:

  1. Human activity
    • We, humans, are the ones who emitted greenhouse gases in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. This led to more heat retention and absorption which in turn, increased surface temperatures.
    • We have emitted aerosols and these, after scattering in the atmosphere have absorbed solar and infrared radiation, which has had an adverse effect on the microphysical and chemical properties of clouds.
    • We have also changed the usage of lands, deforested them, which in turn led to a greater amount of sunlight being reflected from the surface of the earth back into space also known as the surface albedo.
Haiti Deforestation

Satellite image showing deforestation in Haiti, Haiti-Centre. This image depicts the border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right). (Source: NASA)

  1. Solar Irradiance

Since the Sun is our nearest star and our most fundamental source of energy, it does have the effect that is instrumental to our climate changes. The Ice Age between 1650- 1850 in Greenland was due to the littlest decrease in solar activity. From 1410-1720 it was cut-off by ice and all the Glaciers shifted in and moved towards the Alps.

  1. Tectonic movements of plates and volcanic activity

Tectonic plates form the very basis of our continents and even the slightest movement can cause them to move to very different positions from their initial location. These plate movements can cause eruptions in volcanoes which in turn contribute to climate change.

The eruptions from volcanoes which consist of gases and dust particles may warm or cool the Earth’s surface altering it’s temperature significantly.

  1. Changes in ocean currents

Ocean currents carry heat to all the other water bodies of the Earth. Hence, the change in direction of these currents can change affecting the warmth or coolness of various continents. These can have a relatively large effect on our overall climate (including coastal climate and global too) because oceans harbor a large amount of heat.

These are some of the main reasons behind climate change.

Remedies for climate change

We, as humans should individually take measures to save our planet Earth and so that our climate is not affected as much.

  • Instead of depleting our reserved fossil fuels, we need to use more renewable resources such as wind, wave, tidal and solar energy.
  • We need to make use of more public transport instead of our private vehicles. We need to gradually replace our petrol driven vehicles with electric ones in the future to reduce the emission of toxic gases in the atmosphere.
  • One of the easiest steps our government can take is cutting methane emissions. Methane is 84 times harmful than carbon dioxide emissions and is a much greater reported problem.
  • We should wisely use our available energies. We can do this by using energy-efficient light bulbs, unplugging computers and other electronic devices when not in use, washing clothes in cold water instead of warm, using natural sunlight to dry our clothes instead of dryers, etc.
  • Focusing our lives in nature rather than consuming and purchasing. If we start practicing composting, recycling, sharing, fixing and making our lives would be greener and cleaner and would significantly enrich nature and our lives in the process.
  • Carbon pricing so that polluting nature has a heavy price. It might sound not as much of an important step but it paves the way for greener solutions. As agreed by market economists, carbon pricing is also a business-friendly way to decrease pollution in nature. The federal needs our individual support to help make this possible.
  • We should consume more organic meals and less meat. By doing so, we will help ourselves to a better diet and also our planet to make it more climate-stable. We should also try growing our own food and never waste it as much as possible.

Final Words

Scientists all around the globe belonging to various scientific societies have published numerous statements, coming to the unanimous conclusion that global warming is the primary factor of climate change and that we, humans are the primary cause. We should definitely stop overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide (CO2), which we do when we burn fossil fuels like oil and coal to provide ourselves electricity to power our transports and keep our homes warm. The Earth is steadily warming up in response and this is a dire situation whose consequences will affect us in the very near future in drastic ways.

Read More:

  1. Climate change: How do we know?
  2. Climate change, global warming and greenhouse gases
How Did Life Start on Earth

How Did Life Start on Earth?

The secret of how life on Earth began

How did life begin? There will hardly be a much bigger question. For the abundance of human history, nearly everybody believed some version of “the gods did it”. The other rationalization was out of the question.

Is the existence of life on Earth a lucky fluke or associate inevitable consequence of the laws of nature? Is it easy forever to emerge on a fresh fashioned planet, or is it the nearly not possible product of an extended series of unlikely events? Advances in fields as disparate as uranology, planetary science and chemistry currently hold promise that answers to such profound queries could also be around the corner. If life seems to possess emerged multiple times in our galaxy, as scientists hope to find, the trail thereto can’t be thus exhausting. Moreover, if the route from chemistry to biology proves easy to traverse, the universe might be abundant with life.

During a beautiful surprise, most the fresh discovered star systems look terribly totally different from our own. Will that mean one thing regarding our own, very odd, system favors the emergence of life? sleuthing signs of life on a planet orbiting a foreign star isn’t getting to be simple, however, the technology for teasing out delicate “biosignatures” is developing thus chop-chop that with luck we tend to may even see distant life at intervals one or 20 years.

Experiments to figure out origins

  1. Miller-Urey experiment

In 1952, Stanley Miller was operating with Harold C. Harold Urey designed associate experiment to visualize however advanced organic molecules might need to be fashioned underneath the conditions of early Earth. They believed the first Earth atmosphere would are composed of an alkane series, ammonia, chemical element, and vapor. They sealed these gases in associate airtight instrumentality, and then exposed the gases to sparks of electricity to simulate lightning. They continued the lightning for per week, and by the top, an achromatic substance had coated the walls of the instrumentality. This substance contained eleven of the twenty amino acids employed by life on earth. Since Miller and Harold Urey performed this experiment, its results are confirmed over and over by different scientists. Several scientists currently believe that the first Earth’s atmosphere was composed of carbonic acid gas, nitrogen, and vapor.

miller urey experiment

Image Source: Wikipedia

Modern experiments with this mixture of gases manufacture similar results suggesting that early conditions on Earth made advanced organic molecules that in all probability became the premise for the event of additionally advanced organisms. However, scientists haven’t been able to replicate the formation of even easy organisms or something which will very replicate itself. There square measure many theories on however the amino acids might need to be created the leap into the advanced, self-replicating life we tend to see nowadays.

  1. Vitalism

Before the 1800s, the general public believed in “vitalism”. This is often the intuitive concept that living things were blessed with a special, charming property that created them totally different from inanimate objects.

The chemicals of life will all be made up of easier chemicals that don’t have anything to try and do with life

Vitalism was typically certain up with cherished spiritual beliefs. The Bible says that God used “the breath of life” to animate the primary humans, associated an immortal soul may be a type of philosophical theory.

There is only 1 drawback. A philosophical theory is obviously wrong.

By the first 1800s, scientists had discovered many substances that appeared to be distinctive to life. One such chemical was an organic compound that is found in excretion and was isolated in 1799.

This was still, just, compatible with philosophical theory. Solely living things appeared to be ready to create these chemicals; therefore maybe they were infused with life energy which was what created them special.

But in 1828, the German chemist Friedrich Wöhler found some way to form organic compound from a typical chemical known as ammonia cyanate that had no obvious reference to living things. Others followed in his footsteps, and it had been presently clear that the chemicals of life will all be made up of easier chemicals that don’t have anything to try and do with life.

This was the top of philosophical theory as a scientific construct. However, individuals found it deeply arduous to giving up of the thought. For many, the expression that there’s nothing “special” regarding the chemicals of life appeared to rob a lifetime of its magic, to cut back the United States to mere machines. It also, of course, contradicted the Bible.

The mystery of life’s origin was unheeded for many years

Even scientists have struggled to shed philosophical theory. As late as 1913, English chemist Benjamin Moore was fervidly pushing a theory of “biotic energy”, that was basically philosophical theory below a special name. The thought had a robust emotional hold.

Today the thought clings on in sudden places. As an example, there are lots of science-fiction stories during which an individual’s “life energy” is boosted or drained away. Consider the “regeneration energy” employed by the Time Lords in Doctor United Nations agency, which might even be lidded up if it runs low. This feels futurist, however, it’s a deeply old school plan.

Still, when 1828 scientists had legitimate reasons to seem for a deity-free rationalization for the way the primary life shaped. However, they didn’t. It feels like a plain subject to explore, however in reality, the mystery of life’s origin was unheeded for many years. Maybe everybody was still too showing emotion connected to philosophical theory to require consecutive step.

  1. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

Darwin’s theory, come into being in On the Origin of Species in 1859, explained however the immense diversity of life may all have arisen from one common relative. Rather than every one of the various species being created separately by God, they were all descended from a primeval organism that lived uncountable years past the last universal common relative.

This idea established vastly controversial, once more as a result of it contradicted the Bible. Darwin and his ideas came underneath furious attacks, significantly from angry Christians.

darwin evolution theory

Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Illustration. Image Source: ConexaoCabeca (Pixabay)

Darwin knew that it absolutely was a profound question, however – maybe cautious of beginning one more fight with the Church – he solely appears to possess mentioned the difficulty in an exceeding letter written in 1871.

The first hypothesis for the origin of life was unreal in an exceedingly brutally totalitarian country

“But if (what a giant if) we tend to may conceive in some heat very little pool with all kinds of ammonia salts,—light, heat, electricity &c gift, that a macromolecule compound was with chemicals fashioned, able to endure still additional complicated changes…”

In alternative words, what if there was once a tiny low body of water crammed with easy organic compounds and bathed in daylight. a number of those compounds would possibly mix to create a life-like substance like a macromolecule, that may then begin evolving and changing into additional complicated.

What came first?

  1. Metabolism

Some scientists believe that metabolism, in different words – the power to interrupt down greenhouse gas within the presence of a catalyst into tiny organic molecules – was, however, the primary life developed. These reactions may need to be evolved to become additionally complicated, and then genetic molecules somehow shaped and joined in later. There are many alternative theories on specifically what sorts of molecules and catalysts would are concerned.

  1. Genes

Other scientists believe that the primary living organisms were genes. These genes were single molecules that had developed in such some way on be ready to catalyze their own replication. This theory looks additional possible since even easy systems like crystals are incontestible to evolve with modifications that breed true. Some scientists have urged that bound compositions of clay produce the correct surroundings for these reactions to propagate.

  1. RNA

RNA could be a complicated molecule found altogether living things that appear to be ready to catalyze its own copy. Several scientists believe that straightforward ribonucleic acid molecules developed and eventually became a lot of complicated and developed into the organisms we have a tendency to see these days.

  1. LUCA

Astrobiologists and biochemists wish to grasp one thing they decision LUCA (the Last Universal Common Ancestor). The thought is that every one life on Earth encompasses a common ascendant, reasonably sort of a great-great-great-….-great grandparent. They rummage around for traits that are common across all life forms and assume that any traits that are common to any or all life forms nowadays should are familial from LUCA, WHO had all furthermore.

Last Universal Common Ancestor by Wikipedia

Last Universal Common Ancestor. Image Source: Wikipedia

Biochemists recognize quite a bit concerning LUCA and her organic chemistry. She keeps her genetic info in DNA, she had many hundred proteins performing arts a range of functions, and she or he used a similar twenty amino acids we tend to use in our proteins. She used polymer and had some reasonably double-layer macromolecule membrane. She was in all probability the ascendant of the 3 kingdoms of life: Archaea, Eukaryotes, and bacterium.

LUCA lived a minimum of a pair of billion years past before there was a lot of atomic number 8 within the atmosphere. She used enzymes containing iron in her metabolic pathways the approach a lot of life on early Earth did. Learning however life arose on Earth is helpful to astrobiologists, however, they confine mind that the approaching life shaped on Earth isn’t the sole approach life may have shaped. It’s merely a method that it did.

Modern Researches

What next? Chemists are already asking whether or not our quiet life are often generated solely through one plausible pathway or whether or not multiple routes would possibly lead from easy chemistry to RNA-based life and on to trendy biology. Others are exploring variations on the chemistry of life, seeking clues on the attainable diversity of life “out there” within the universe. If all goes well, we are going to eventually learn the way strong the transition from chemistry to biology is and so whether or not the universe is packed with life-forms or—but for us—sterile.

Every single one that died before Darwin revealed the Origin of Species in 1859 was blind to humanity’s origins, as a result of they knew nothing of evolution. However everybody alive currently, riddance isolated teams, will recognize the reality regarding our kinship with alternative animals.

Similarly, everybody born when spaceman orbited the world in 1961 has lived in a very society that may jaunt alternative worlds. Notwithstanding we tend to ne’er go ourselves, voyage may be a reality.

Our world views these modifications in delicate ways. Arguably, they create the North American nation wiser. Evolution teaches the North American nation to treasure each alternative animate thing, for they’re our cousins. The voyage permits the North American nation to visualize our world from a distance, revealing however distinctive and fragile it’s.l honestly say they recognize wherever they came from. They’ll recognize what their final antecedent was like and wherever it lived.

This knowledge cans modification of the North American nation. On a strictly scientific level, it’ll tell the North American nation regarding however probably life is to create within the Universe, and wherever to seem for it. And it’ll tell the North American nation one thing regarding life’s essential nature. However on the far side that, we tend to cannot nevertheless recognize the knowledge the origin of life can reveal.