Hello, wonderful readers! Sorry for the wait on this part. I actually created this almost two years ago, but I hadn’t published it, yet. I hope to get the next part out faster than this one, but my life has been full of activities. Thank you so much for being patient!
Have you ever found yourself wondering: “Maybe we didn’t cause Global Warming? Maybe it was just nature?”
If so, I don’t blame you. There’s tons of evidence of global climate change in the past, before we humans came on the scene and started using fossil fuels.
For example, there have been changes in global temperature due to volcanic activity and other natural phenomena.
Here is a graph that shows this fact.
Image credit, NASA. (Data from ice-core samples in Antarctica.)
So, what makes scientists think that the present climate crisis is any different?
The difference in this period of climate change isn’t just 1) how abrupt it is, or even 2) the fact that it started at the beginning of the industrial revolution, when people started burning fossil fuels. (Although both these facts are proven, too).
What separates this period of climate change from natural ones in the past can be found in the coldest place on earth..
If you still doubt that humans are causing global warming, go to Antarctica. There, in a remote outpost, you will find scientists working in one of the harshest environments on earth. Why are they there? They are drilling into the ice. And not for oil—no! For… more ice.
You see, when snow falls in places as cold as the Arctic and Antarctic, it doesn’t melt. It just builds up, and gets heavier and heavier, until its own weight weighs it down so much that it compresses into ice. Since snow is made up of 90% air (which is why it’s light and fluffy when it falls), this compression pushes the air out. But some of it stays inside the ice as little air bubbles.
So as you can imagine, if the snow fell, say, two thousand years ago, never melted, and instead compressed into ice, wouldn’t some of the air bubbles trapped inside also be from ten thousand years ago? Yes! And these are little samples of the air from that long-ago time.
The scientists in Antarctica are studying these air bubbles for that reason. They want to study the air from long ago. The air around the world is mostly the same at the same time, so if the air in Antarctica was composed of certain things, probably the air of the whole world at the time was composed of the same things—-giving the scientists the longest and best record they can get of what the climate was like throughout history.
So, scientists can get the ice and study it to find out, for example, how much carbon dioxide was in the atmosphere at a certain time.
Now, here’s another thing I need to tell you: You know plants breathe in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, right? Well…Plants are picky eaters. Yeah, you heard me right. Plants prefer one isotope*(See definition at bottom) of carbon dioxide over another. There are two main isotopes of CO2, carbon 13 and carbon 12. Carbon 12 is the lighter type, and it’s the type all plants prefer… even the plants, say in the time of the dinosaurs.
So, when those prehistoric plants died, they kept the carbon 12 in their remains, and over time those remains became fossils. Now, we’re pumping them back up as fossil fuels. Hence the name, right?
Well, since those plants mostly contained carbon 12, so do the fossil fuels. And when we use fossil fuels and release them into the atmosphere, changes happen: the atmosphere’s level of carbon 12 goes up, and the level of carbon 13 goes down. And that’s measurable.
Image credit: kottke.org
As you can see in this graph, the level of lighter carbon (carbon 12) went up, while the level of carbon 13 (mostly caused by volcanic activity) went down.
This is incredibly substantial evidence that humans, who released the carbon 12, are the culprits of our current climate change.
*Isotopes are like types of atoms. Atoms, which are the building blocks of all things, are made of different compositions (amounts) of their own building blocks––electrons, neutrons, and protons––depending on what they are part of or what they are creating. Carbon 12 contains six neutrons, six protons, and six electrons, giving it an atomic mass (size or weight- amount) of twelve. Carbon 13 contains six protons, six electrons and seven neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 13.
Today’s post is going to be different then most posts. Because this is not a normal day. It’s…(drumroll, please)…EARTH DAY!
*Cue worldwide activist parties!*
Since it’s Earth Day (my website’s first birthday! Sniff…they grow up so fast… remember that very first post on Earth Day last year?), and since we have so many wonderful people working on posts now, including Tigress and Callisto (here’s a link to Callisto’s Earthrise post about the beautiful photo below), this is going to be a little longer than usual. But we worked really hard on it, so you’ll really want to read this one!
Happy, happy Earth Day, my eco-friends!
Callisto wrote a wonderful post about this famous photo, known as Earthrise (link above).
Picture a world where everything…and everyone…is safe.
Picture a world where freedom––and a vote that counts––is considered a fundamental human right.
Picture a world where everyone––children and adults of all races, cultures, faiths, and gender identities––are treated respectfully, fairly, and equitably, with free access to education, to honest information, and to health support. (Including a vaccine, if they need one.)
Picture a world where beautiful trees grow thick, lush, unharmed by humans.
Picture a world where the rivers, seas, and oceans are crystal clear, except for the plankton and important algae that feed the creatures living in it.
Picture a world where you can go outside and breathe fresh, clean air without worry––even those living in cities.
Picture a world where islands, and the populations and cultures living on them, are not threatened by climate-driven sea rise.
Picture a world where rainforests stretch on and on...to the very edge of the horizon…unharmed by humans.
Picture a world where your favorite––and the Earth’s most iconic––creatures are in no danger, but are safe in their natural habitats, which supply their needs.
Picture a world where our human footprints do not harm the rest of it.
We CAN have this world––picture it!––in which any day is an Earth Day.
If only we try.
The Power of Words
Have you ever wanted to do something about the climate crisis but have been too scared? Or maybe it’s just that you don’t exactly know how?
Well, I can help with that…a little, at least.
First, are you too scared or anxious to say what you think?
This is nothing to be ashamed of. Even while I’m writing this, I’m wondering if it’s a good idea to write it: Am I making mistakes? What if someone thinks this is weird or stupid? What if no one sees this at all?
But I have to ignore these nagging feelings because…the Earth is worth it.
Imagine if every voice––smart or stupid, cool or weird––spoke out for what they believed in: stopping human-driven climate change. That would be so many voices that the world leaders and people who are preventing us from moving forward would have to listen.
Every drop in the bucket counts
But my voice is too small, you might think. What’s one less voice in a million?
As an answer to this question, one voice is everything.
Perhaps there are nine hundred thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine voices? Then that one extra voice would be the difference between several thousand and a million. And one more? From a million to more than a million. Whether it seems like it or not, it’s a measurable difference: it COUNTS.
Or, perhaps, and much more importantly, what if everyone thinks what you think–that their voice doesn’t count, either? That would make the difference between one million…and nothing. No one would ever give the climate crisis a second thought, since no one ever asked them to think about it twice.
Okay, so maybe you understand this now. But perhaps you’re still too scared. What do you do?
You push those feelings aside, and speak anyhow. You can still be cautious, but just realize there is a very fine line between caution and fear. No matter what everything seems to tell you, it’s more important to get your voice out there, to take the risk to help and hope, than to overanalyze what you say, attempting to make sure it’s what your friends, your relatives, your teachers, or even some YouTube celebrities want to hear. All that matters is that you speak up and you tell the truth. Someone, somewhere, will listen.
Perhaps your voice will be the turning point for someone; that one extra nudge that puts them on the right track. Or perhaps your voice can be more than a turning point: perhaps it will be someone’s inspiration. For me, I never know when a sentence, a stanza, or a single word, will make impact. Most of the time it’s the inspiring ones out there who make a difference, but, sometimes…it’s the little, quiet, less-heard voices who make that difference.
Now for the next step…how to start
Just don’t know how to start…? I get this feeling, too. For a long time I was thinking a lot but not saying anything. I just wasn’t quite sure how. Those little uncertainties bothered me–and stopped me from even trying.
But then I began to look, to learn, to listen, and I created a website–and now my voice is being heard! By you, if by no one else.
Now I know that I should have done something, whether I knew how to or not––our world is simply worth it.
My advice is just DO.
Do something meaningful, even if it feels awkward. As long as you’re doing something, saying something, it counts! You don’t even have to really “know how.”
But if you do want to know how, just ask! There’s no shame in being a beginner, in asking what to do or how to start. Chances are, you know or have heard of someone who can help you. The world is full of kind, clever people who are just waiting for the question, “Can you help me?” “How can I help?” “What can I DO?”
I asked my parents when it came to this. They were happy to help, and even helped me set up this website — and since I asked for this website as a gift, they even helped pay for it! Now my dad takes care of all the complicated tech stuff and my mom edits every post! And my sister started making On Thin Ice— which has really brought the site to life visually. And our good friend Tigress is now adding her voice to the mix, speaking out for endangered animals who have no voices of their own. Thanks, guys! I’m so grateful.
So, in summary:
Start where you are. DO what you can.
Don’t worry what other people might think.
If you want to know how to start, how to make a change, or what it all means, ASK.
Use your voice.Because every voice counts, no matter how small.
This Earth Day, I’ve gathered a collection of quotes here that I hope will leave you inspired and enlightened as you do your little bit to help the Earth.
We should consider nature our home, not a place to visit.
What we see mainly depends on what we look for.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but rising every time we fall.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.
Nothing is ever impossible. The word itself says, “I’m possible!”
Teaser for my new graphic story, “Leopard’s Tree”~!
Over 50 years ago, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in battle.
It was a battle of power, each side trying to out-do the other with nuclear power…and rockets.
The USSR launched the first satellite (Sputnik I) into space on October 4th, 1957. Then the Soviets launched the first living animal into orbit on November 3rd, 1957, a former stray dog named Laika (who tragically died, partially due to the fact that they had no way to recover the dog’s capsule from space), yet again outdoing the United States who hadn’t launched anything into orbit yet.
Then the USSR launched the first person into space, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, on the 12th of April, 1961, yet again (as you may have guessed) leaving the USA behind in the space race.
But not for long. In the States, a space program had begun: NACA (soon to be NASA) which grew, and from it came the Mercury Program, which sent the first American person, astronaut Alan Shepard, into space; then the Gemini Program; and next, the Apollo Program.
You may have heard of some of these programs, but I’m almost certain that you’ve heard of Apollo. You’ve heard of Apollo 11, most likely… Because, hey, that’s the program that sent us to the moon for the first time!
But there were many very important lesser-known Apollo missions previous to––and following––Apollo 11. Like Apollo 1, which, though it never sent its crew to space and ended tragically with the deaths of three astronauts, may have saved NASA before it had barely started due to the hard lessons learned from the tragedy. Or Apollo 7, when NASA was first able to test out a manned Saturn V rocket in orbit.
But most important to this post––and to the entire environmental movement––was Apollo 8. Apollo 8 was the first mission to reach lunar orbit. And astronauts James Lovell Jr., William Anders, and Frank Borman were along for the ride, which launched on December 21st, 1968, for a six-day mission. Apollo 8 was the first human spaceflight to orbit an astronomical object: the Moon. Still, they never touched down on the Moon at all.
So why was this mission important, you may wonder, if they weren’t even landing on the Moon, and just flew around it for a bit?
You see, when Apollo 8 was launched into trans-lunar orbit, the astronauts were traveling farther away from our planet than any others before had traveled. The mission was not only important to the space program, because of all of the maneuvers, calculations, and theories they got to try in real life, and in preparation for a moon landing, but it was important in helping us realize something big…and very beautiful.
During the first-ever lunar orbit, when the Apollo 8 spacecraft came around to face Earth again, astronaut William Anders took one of the most famous photos in history: Earthrise.
Astronauts had looked back at Earth before, and taken photos of it, but what happened when Apollo 8 first went to the Moon was very special.
This photo was seen all over our world almost as soon as the astronaut photographer returned to Earth.
Nowadays this may not look that impressive. In fact, you’ve probably seen this very picture before. But imagine you hadn’t. Imagine that you lived in a world where no one had ever looked at Earth like this; never seen what our planet looks like from the outside. That’s what it was like, when the world saw this photo. People weren’t just looking up at the Moon at night, and seeing another world that most can only ever dream of stepping upon, and at this point, no one had; now, they were looking at their world. Our world.
This was the world upon which their parents, and parents’ parents, and their ancestors, had lived…the world upon which they now lived. And they saw that the planet that they were looking at, rising above the lunar surface, was alive. They could tell it was alive. Even if they had not known what planet it was, they would have been able to tell that this planet harbored life. They could see that it was blue, and green, and that it was living and breathing. That was the first time we’d ever really laid eyes upon it, and had seen how small it really was, even just looking at it from our own Moon. Millions of people saw our planet, looking as small and insignificant as our Moon does from here.
But the truth is that it’s not insignificant, and neither is our Moon. Every person I’ve ever met, every mountain I’ve ever climbed, every building I’ve ever sheltered in, every idea I’ve ever come up with, every friend I’ve ever made… is from that planet.This is the only home we’ve ever known, was the thought of almost everyone who laid eyes on this simple photo. And now it looked as small as a marble, on the front page of almost every newspaper and magazine.
We realized how small and delicate our planet is, but also how powerful the life is that thrives on it is. And for a lot of people, the ones who paid attention, the ones who were smart enough to listen and learn, knew: that planet––our planet––is in danger.
For even then, we already had hints, serious hints, that our climate could collapse. We knew we were harming it, and in more ways than one. So, the few who were smart enough to listen and learn, but also care about our future, thought: I’ve got to do something to save it.
A lot of them did. And according to Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, that was when the environmental movement was born, really born. Environmentalists advocated for the stopping of littering and the drilling for oil, for saving almost extinct creatures, and many more wonderful things, sometimes for the first time. They even helped the world stop whaling!
But unfortunately many of the things that they were fighting for have not yet been accomplished. People still litter. People still pollute. People still drill into that very world whose picture had been taken on that winter day in 1968, turning the oil that they find into fuel which we pump into our cars and planes and boats and factories and houses. And that, in turn, goes into our delicate atmosphere that has protected us and which harbors life, the very life of which we are a part.
And still we choke our planet in toxic gases and deadly waste which we throw carelessly into the earth and cover it with the ground as if, when we can’t see it, it’s not there. But it is. We know it is. We know what we’re doing, how we’re destroying our planet. We know it’s suicide and mass murder in the making. And…most importantly of all…We know how to stop it.
But not enough of us reach out of our own egocentric worlds to do enough about it. Not enough of us seem to care about what lies beyond our own daily lives and daily comings and daily goings. Not enough of us seem to be able to open our minds to what we really are: a species committing that suicide and that mass murder, and realize that, if we don’t do anything more to stop it, our presence on our planet may be as brief as the blink of an eye.
We all have intelligent minds, capable of doing what we did to get as far as we have gotten, and capable of saving us from our mistakes. Many of us have convinced ourselves that we’re not doing anything wrong, and that everyone who tells us that it is are the ones that are wrong. But they aren’t. Deep down, we all know that they aren’t. We know what we’re doing. But stopping doing it, and working out new solutions, isn’t convenient enough for many of us. It won’t make us any more money, will it? It won’t turn a profit. Many of us don’t seem to think that if you just have enough money, it will solve everything, and don’t realize that they can’t just buy a ticket out of here when our planet dies.
Maybe we all need to open our eyes again. Open them like so many people on this planet did all those years ago, when they blurred with tears as they gazed at the picture of their home world. Maybe, if those of us who never listened or believed, saw the world as everyone first saw it back in 1968…it would impact them just in the same way! Maybe it would help them to see the world as it really is. Because if none of us realize what a horrible end we’re creating for ourselves and the many other creatures of our planet, we never really have: we’ve never really seen our world.