Two words that have developed a deep and paralyzing confusion, that eventually leads us to inaction. This increasing anxiety when learning about the effects of climate change, is also called eco-anxiety, and all of us, even those who work in conservation suffer from it. We would like to help out with this. We understand where it comes from, but we also know that inaction is climate change’s worst enemy. We can transform this feeling of anxiousness into transformative action.
By Victoria Chiriboga
We want to explain Climate Change using one of our neighboring planets, Venus. Why Venus? Well, believe it or not, Earth and Venus have a lot in common, which is why the Venus Logic is going t o help us explain the basics and technicalities that you need to know about Climate Change. In a way these two planets are like cousins, similar, but with essential differences that make them 2 completely different planets. They have a relatively similar distance from the sun, they are pretty close in size, and finally they contain the same amount of Carbon. So, with these 3 elements, why is it that we can’t inhabit Venus? The secret lies behind where each of these stores their carbon reserves. Earth is truly one of our solar system’s most fascinating planets, because it has developed the ability to store its carbon within its crust. As a result, the atmospheric temperature is 15oC on average, perfect conditions for life to bloom. On the other hand, Venus stores its carbon within its atmosphere, resulting in an average atmospheric temperature of about 475oC. Making life inexistent.
With this simple distinction, we are able to visualize why releasing carbon into the atmosphere affects atmospheric temperatures so drastically. Life on earth has evolved and developed with the purpose of returning all the carbon that is naturally emitted back underground, and that way maintain the ideal temperature for all organisms to thrive. The moment that we introduce extractive practices, without a strategy to reintroduce the carbon back to their original place, emissions begin to accumulate in the atmosphere and thus increasing temperature.
Unfortunately, most energy sources that are used at a large scale around the world are dependent on extraction processes, such as oil, gas, and coal. Each of these requires to be extracted from under the earth’s upper mantel (lithosphere), therefore moving carbon reserves into the atmosphere. These processes emit a certain amount of carbon that exceeds its ability to reintroduce it back underground, which is how it gets trapped within the atmosphere. Queue the “greenhouse effect”.
If we were to remove extraction processes from the equation, for just a second, the release of carbon is part of the most basic process of all living things: respiration. Humans, and animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, while on the flipside, plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. This creates the perfect symbiosis to keep carbon within the cycle. Of course, some of this carbon is still accumulated in the atmosphere, and it works to maintain the temperature conditions by trapping heat from sunlight.
This relationship that exists between animals/humans and plants is the perfect and simplest way to understand why ecosystem and biodiversity conservation are so elemental as a mitigation strategy. One of the most important players in the game of carbon sequestration: forests. Forests work as enormous carbon filters, where not only do they transform it into oxygen, but also they are able to accumulate it, in order to form the biomass of many of their plant species. Forests that are close to cities have an even greater role, because they absorb and transform the enormous quantities of carbon that are emitted within the metropolis. Making it even more crucial to avoid the deforestation and exploitation of these ecosystems.
The issue with climate change is big and complex. At its root it is a human issue, in the sense that it is a human caused issue, and that, if the climate is altered enough, humanity will not have the necessary conditions to continue to inhabit earth. It has social, ecological and economic impacts. The increased temperatures result in a complete distortion of the way ecosystems work, which as a direct result, decreases their ability to capture and transform carbon emissions. Climate Change scares us because, in a way, we remain unsure of what or when exactly. It is “unknown”. But knowledge has an almost supernaturally ability to release fear and transform it into action. When we understand climate change in its simples form: carbon underground, solution, carbon in the atmosphere, problem. We are able to understand that we need to prioritize activities and processes that help maintain that logic.