There is a reality in medicine that Glen Beck and the climate deniers don't understand applies to the planet just as much, probably more. Remember when Glen tried to blow off the CO2 increase in our atmosphere because that's the gas we blow off when we exhale? That is true, it is the waste gas. I spent 16 of the years since graduating from nursing school in '77 as a critical care nurse. This is how I explain the problem on the planet scale.
The lungs are an incredible organ that allows us to maintain both the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and life, as long as one aspect of the system stays within a very narrow range. The pH of blood can only fall in a small decimal point spread before the oxy-hemoglobin dissociation capacity goes too low.
the hydrogen ion concentration of the blood, a measure of blood acidity or alkalinity. The normal pH values for arterial whole blood are 7.35 to 7.454; for venous whole blood, 7.36 to 7.41; for venous serum or plasma, 7.35 to 7.45.
Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.
The pH balance is critical for the oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules to get on and off
(dissociation) the red blood cell sites that carry them between the lungs and cells. If the carbon dioxide doesn't get off, and oxygen can't get on, the blood acidity just gets worse.
Acidity in the body is a downhill problem. Much easier to go there than back up to normal pH. Diabetic ketoacidosis, respiratory acidosis, and other forms, are very tricky to correct. After a certain point, all the body's capacity to neutralize the pH to the life sustaining window is exhausted. Medicine has limited options and time to correct it before the cells are not getting enough oxygen and the human body dies.
Burning fossil fuels has steadily increased the CO2 levels in earth's atmosphere well above what it has been for the period most current species evolved in. Current farming practices to raise livestock and other pollutants contribute to acidification. The problem becomes worse when the acidic pollutants also get into fresh and salt water. The earth's ecosystem is a much larger system than our bodies. It too, has limits.
Where are earth's lungs?
The excess atmospheric CO2 cannot be exhaled to outer space. While the ocean plankton has played a role similar to our lungs on earth, it is overwhelmed for multiple reasons, as are other plants that breakdown CO2. The steadily increasing rate we are producing CO2 from burning fossil fuels, the very long time it takes to break down, and how far above the oceans much of it collects. Rain has raised the CO2 and other pollutants in oceans, lakes, streams, and soil; making them more acidic. All the species that depend on water and a narrow pH balance to exist, let alone thrive, are threatened. Evolution and adaptation take time, far more time than we are leaving the earth's inhabitants to adapt to this fundamental change - however it effects their internal system function. We are running out of time to carry out serious plans to change from fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives that don't produce CO2 and other dangerous by-products. Why?
Denial of this existential threat is delay. Delay increases the threat level.
It's a whole lot worse than any and all threats we face. The debt, discrimination, health care, and even gun violence, are dwarfed by what will happen if we don't start these changes soon and extensively.
Australia has had to add a new color to the maps showing heat levels. Coincidentally, purple is a danger sign in humans – it signals loss of normal blood circulation and oxygen levels.
Earth should be blue and green, brown and white.
I guess it was time to start writing diaries again. First time ever on the wreck list, thanks, especially to the rescue crew. Also find the poll results very interesting. Activism as a means of coping with the stress is part of what I think MB refers to in his sig. The multiples are also a good way to kill stress before it kills you ;)