Influencing our destiny - and then it gets destroyed so it has to reshape itself - Part 3

Gaia theory



To me, the previous two articles already demonstrate that the Gaia theory may exist although there are still many sceptics (e.g. New Scientist 26 October 2013, "Gaia: the verdict is ...", p. 30-31). The Earth, animals and plants interact with each other to try to reach an balance (we don't undergo the system passively while the system adjust to our changes) and when the equilibrium is disturbed then there are consequences. But we should also consider the age of the Earth, and thus not only what it does to individuals in a short period (from the perspective of Earth: what is a thousand years?). The system works as long as there is an equilibrium so that what comes replaces what goes. The dinosaurs may have become too powerful and this may have led to their collapse, helped with natural disasters while smaller animals and plants survived as they were better able to adapt to the new environment. Scientists (and many people) fear this may happen soon with our societies: nature provides life but it can also destroy during natural disasters although this can result in better living conditions for the survivors. But when humans destroy too much nature by claiming too much land and water for houses, industry, roads, then too little is left for other creatures and ultimately for humans. And when too much nature gets destroyed there is less food and clean water and air available. And too little food often results in fights, even wars so the number of humans reduce and animals and plants can recover. This is all part of the law of life; it is pure economy.

Another article in New Scientist (29 June 2013, "Call in the clouds", p. 32-35) but later also on the BBC-website describes how forests help with the formation of clouds so the system maintains itself: trees need water but the water should also evaporate or trees rot and thus they take up the water, release it in the sky so clouds can form to release water. But changes elsewhere also influence the system and thus can destroy the cycle. Trees also release molecules in the air to help the cloud formation and during warm weather, trees release more molecules that further increase cloud formation and thus cool down the area more than when there are no trees. The article also describes how algae release molecules that condense into small particles that may reflect sunlight and cool the area. In summer, there are more algae and thus the effect may be stronger although it seems its effect is small and most cloud formation occurs by salt spray and organic compounds.

Clouds, in different shapes and colours, and each with their own beauty and story.

I think a number of different mechanisms work together but more research is needed before we fully understand all mechanisms. Below I will theorise (based on what I read) about current and future science (science is about theorising so it can be studied and becomes accepted or disappears to be replaced by other theories and facts).

Probably a number of different mechanisms act and sometimes work together while other times oppose each other. Firstly, seas and oceans are in constant movement, resulting in water and salt spray while organic particles are another large portion of what is thrown into the air by oceans and these act as condensation nuclei for cloud formation. Even this is not constant because during hot days there may be less wind and thus a calmer ocean, resulting in less sprays and thus less cloud formation whereby the surface temperature increases and thus a larger difference in surface temperature with other cooler regions so stronger currents and storms can be expected that will mix the waters and cool the area. After winter, more light and increasing water temperature results in algae (and other sea animals) blooming and an increase in life (while the water is still cold enough to cool the land). But these algae also release dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) that reacts with the air to form sulphuric acid vapour that condenses into small aerosols that reflect sunlight directly but also indirectly by making clouds whiter. This effect is probably little but may slowdown the warming so algae can continue growing. When temperatures continue to rise as summer comes, land becomes drier and thus more dust is formed that is blown in the air so more particles can act as nuclei for water to condense. As time moves on, air becomes drier in summer and these particles may become less efficient to form water droplets. As they are small, warm air will take them very high in the sky where there is more moisture while wind can spread them over larger areas and thus it doesn't always result in rain although locally it may result in a strong cooling and rain (e.g. when air is very hot and there is no wind, dust can rise very quickly locally to great height so locally (thunder) clouds may appear). As summer continues, more DMSO is released from algae that can mix with the dust, salt and organic material so larger water droplets can be formed while the clouds are still white and high but start to become more visible; nevertheless, this may still not be sufficient to cool the system although everyone knows the feeling in summer when the sun is hidden by clouds: temperature drops. Systems above land such as the release of terpenes by green tendril also act as cooling systems above forests as they cause a haze that reflects sunlight but also act as nuclei for cloud formation. When summer continues and more particles are released from within oceans and forests and more dust is blown around, they may start to mix as winds blow them in many directions. In this way, larger particles may be formed and thus larger air droplets although often the warm air is still able to keep the clouds in the sky and prevent it from raining (often); still clouds cool. In mid-summer, life is now in urgent need to reduce temperatures and have water.


One side of planet Earth, here showing the north in summer while the south in winter. But also left and right differs as one part is in daylight while the other is night. The arrows show how ocean currents can flow while winds can blow in all directions, also over land.
And thus, as long as temperatures are not too high, the influence of the algae should be small because cold water doesn't need to be cooler but their reaction starts when things become warm. As the initial negative feedback mechanism is slow and with a delay or maybe insufficient, the surface water becomes slightly too warm for many algae and they start dying, maybe a necessary process to prevent too many algae survive as overpopulation is never good in a survival strategy but maybe also to prevent too many predators can survive that may eat all algae. As these organisms die, more organic material becomes available to act as nuclei for droplets formation while less DMSO is released and thus the whitening effect on the clouds becomes smaller.
On both sides of land masses there are oceans. Both oceans and land releases particles into the sky. These particles can attach and become nuclei for cloud formation. Above deserts there are hardly any trees that can release both water vapour and particles and thus there is hardly any cloud formation while temperature is so high most water evaporates.Winds can move particles all over the world.

As summer continues and is hot, difference in temperature continues to increase between the water surface compared with water deeper in the ocean but certainly compared with the other side of the planet where winter is at its maximum and waters are cooling. Also the ice at one pole retreats while on the other pole increases and thus currents will flow differently. This will result in imbalances as cold water sinks while warm water rises. As a result, ocean currents start flowing faster and oceans and seas become a little rougher, thus throwing more dying algae in the air. The differences in temperatures between the north and south of the planet will also result in stronger winds and this too will affect the movement of the surface of oceans whereby they become rougher and thus more water, salt and organic particles are thrown into the air. These particles are bigger and thus it is easier for water to condense, certainly because during a hot summer more water evaporates and thus air above oceans becomes more moisture. In addition, as there are more particles in the sky, they will more easily stick together and thus form heavier particles. Dark clouds form full with all these particles (salt, organic material, dust, water) that are no longer whitened by DMSO as there are fewer algae; this will result in a cooling of the planet as dark clouds block the sunlight and rain and storms will come while summer will change into winter, cooling that area while the opposite happens on the other side. Indeed, Earth on one side acts opposite to the other side and this may help maintain life.

But even now mechanisms may work to counteract winter: firstly, warm water releases heat in the air and thus slows down the cooling of the planet. But also our planet continues travelling in space and thus days will eventually become longer again (shorter on the other side). But also, dark clouds contain many heavy particles and thus fall easier down to earth, so their effect of blocking sunlight is only temporarily. At the same time, as clouds are dark, maybe they prevent too much cooling as they reflect less sunlight and thus although it feels cold in winter, they may average temperatures by absorbing the sun's energy while if they were white it may result in an even colder environment by reflecting more sunlight. Clouds also prevent that too much heat escapes into space and thus temperatures are higher than without clouds.

As long as everything is as it should be, things are pretty much controlled although there is variability but troubles may happen when external factors change and these are more difficult to predict. E.g. planet Earth may move slightly closer or further away from the sun (we can't stop this process if it happens), or we may interfere a little too much with our planet and change its conditions such as releasing too much greenhouse gasses. Then mechanisms may start that are different from the expected and thus the above described processes may no longer work. E.g. climate change scientists fear that changes in water temperature may stop currents from flowing and think this may be disastrous. I can imaging a higher surface temperature (less oxygen-rich) may result in too many algae (and other animals) dying that may no longer be thrown in the air if seas are calm; less organic material in the air may result in reduced cloud formation and thus less cooling, further increasing the warming of the surface in summer while the cooling on the other side may be slower. This maybe results in fewer but more violent storms because differences in water temperature may become larger, resulting in heavier storms whereby the violent storms will try to return the equilibrium by mixing the waters. But maybe the differences in water temperatures may result in stronger currents that mix the waters and this may result in fewer and less heavy storms. Future will tell. Also, the melting of the pole ice will almost certainly result in changed currents of which we don't know the effect yet although it may prevent oceans become too acid.

And this may also affect temperature above land that again has effects above and in oceans. Indeed, oceans are our benefactors but can as well destroy. Heavy storms transform the earth's surface (e.g. storms can break down coastlines and thus change currents) until a new equilibrium is reached. And for mother Earth, what is a human if it misbehaves? Nothing. We are born to die but believe we have a mission; still, in the end we don't even know we were ever born and what happened with our off-spring although we can always try to make the most of our existence on this planet by doing good to others and to ourselves. I don't think our planet will mourn when we disappear, she will simply continue her journey with or without life until one day planet Earth itself is destroyed, by the Sun or another external or internal event and that was it. Her pieces will spread and can be used by other planets or disappear in emptiness, whatever. Still, it is interesting to know what may happen.

The warmer the climate, the more molecules are released so they can start mixing to have a greater effect. And thus, during climate change, the cooling of the planet may be larger. Still, the article also describes that sometimes things can go wrong. E.g. in the past the planet became too hot and this was followed by 'iceball planet' as during the warm period CO2-loving organisms were flourishing while rocks reacted easier with CO2, removing too much CO2 from the planet so temperatures plummeted although certain bacteria survived in ice. In these cold temperatures, less CO2 was removed from the air while volcanoes released CO2 and temperatures rose and life flourished again. This takes very long but life worked together with the planet to restore favourable conditions.

And it seems our mother Earth even protects her children against violence coming from space such as the sun (New Scientist, 15 March 2014, "Earth raises shield against sun's fury", p10) although when she is angry she abandons everyone.

And of course, this is not all: for instance, in spring the air contains more moisture than during summer in a cooler environment and thus there will be more rain even when plants produce few if any of the molecules that will protect them against heat, as there is no need to protect themselves yet. More details will emerge when more results are published, and everything together will probably result in many large publications on the internet, much longer and better than this article to explain the weather and the many interactions. Indeed, the above shows that both living and death organisms work together to create the right conditions for life on our mother, planet Earth. Of course, I can be wrong.



Humans



And yes, we understand that particles are needed for water vapour to condense. And thus scientists have become so desperate about climate change that they think of releasing silver particles into the sky so water vapour can condense and rain can fall in areas where there is no rain. I think it would be better to destroy less forests and even allow nature to reclaim land while people should live closer to and in cities. What will be the effect of the silver on land and air quality? Can we inhale those particles without them having a negative effect on our health? We also start blaming trees for releasing more hazardous ozone when pollution levels are high (blame the trees and not humans while apart from being harmful, maybe trees release this ozone to protect themselves by destroying fungus, bacteria and viruses that may be more likely to survive when dust levels are higher?), thus further proof we need to reduce our own pollution levels. We could reduce our dependency on fossil fuels by gradually replacing old techniques with newer ones. Indeed, cars may not yet be able to drive only on sun energy, but it would at least reduce the amount of fuel we need. Equally for houses, sun and wind energy will reduce the need for fuel and gas to heat and light our houses. And although it seems the NATO boss Rasmussen claims that we don't like fracking because Russia influences our opinion, I think one should be quite desperate to get gas out of stones, as if the easily available gasses are almost finished. We could proof we don't need Russia's gas and oil by increasing investment in and use of renewable energies (without me claiming it can already replace all our energy consumption). It would also reduce air pollution and thus result in a cleaner environment while the green economy would gain much.

The above is a theory that needs to be tested. Indeed, maybe future will show it is all rubbish and nothing influences each other. Still, at least testing this theory will provide scientists with something to research while denying any influence from one system on another already excludes further research in this field.

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