Earth’s Thermostat in the Rocks

Earths Thermostat in the Rocks

A new report shows that rain, carbon dioxide, and various kinds of rocks are major players in controlling Earth’s climate. The study, led by Penn State University, pooled data from 45 soil sites and many watersheds worldwide to see how the weathering of rocks combines with rain to stabilize climate. You might call it Earth’s thermostat in the rocks.

We know that volcanoes have emitted large amounts of carbon dioxide, potentially turning the planet into a greenhouse. However, rain dissolves the carbon dioxide out of the air, creating a weak acid that falls to the surface. The acid wears away the rocks in Earth’s crust, and carbon is part of the byproducts of this action. Streams and rivers carry the carbon to the ocean, where it is eventually locked away in sedimentary rocks.

Richard Yuretich, a program director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Earth Sciences, says that the breakdown of rocks into soil “removes significant amounts of carbon dioxide and water from the atmosphere, processes that are also related to temperature.” As the temperature rises, the rate of carbon sequestration increases, helping to control the greenhouse effect. This process creates what is essentially Earth’s thermostat to help maintain a relatively constant temperature.

This new research will significantly impact our understanding of climate change. It helps us understand how Earth’s design has allowed a constant temperature throughout the past’s varied activity of carbon emissions. How much effect it will have in the future as humans add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere remains to be seen. However, there have been past periods of significant volcanic activity, so the carbon dioxide levels have not been static.

Earth’s thermostat in the rocks is just one more example of how the planet’s design has made it possible for life to exist during climate changes. We know that the thermostat in our car or home was designed with intelligence. Likewise, the thermostat built into our planet is also not some accidental device but is essential for the existence of life on Earth.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: The National Science Foundation Research News Report, March 8, 2023, and the journal Science, 26 Jan 2023

Elephants and Ecosystems

Elephants and Ecosystems

Yesterday we talked about ecosystems, what they are, and why they are essential. If you looked at yesterday’s picture, you saw that carbon sequestration was among the “services” provided by ecosystems. Today, there is much concern about atmospheric carbon (carbon dioxide and methane) increasing the “greenhouse effect” and causing global warming. That makes capturing carbon an essential service of ecosystems to protect our survival. One vital area involves African elephants and ecosystems.

Elephants are known as megaherbivores because of their size and the fact that they eat plants. New research has shown that elephants have a “profound” effect on forest ecosystems. We have mentioned before that beavers shape their environment to create ecosystems that support many other life forms. Researchers from Sweden, France, and the United States confirm that elephants are also “ecosystem engineers” that “significantly influence the structure and functioning of ecosystems” such as tropical rainforests in Africa.

The positive connection between elephants and ecosystems involves two aspects of elephant behavior. First, African forest elephants prefer to eat the leaves of trees with low wood density. This is because those leaves contain more protein and less fiber than the ones with high wood density. Secondly, elephants prefer to eat fruit from trees with higher wood density. By eating those fruits, the elephants disperse the seeds of the trees that sequester the most carbon.

Elephants spread more seeds of more plant species than any other animal. The elephant’s diet enables the survival and spread of the trees that store more carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere. At the same time, elephants reduce overcrowding by the lower-density plants, allowing the larger trees to grow. This balance of elephants and ecosystems helps to protect the planet from excess carbon in the atmosphere.

The study concludes that elephant conservation will significantly affect global climate by controlling the amount of atmospheric carbon. God has designed a worldwide system of many ecosystems that make Earth suitable for advanced life to thrive. Our job is to protect the blessings God has given us to enjoy. Who doesn’t enjoy watching elephants?

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Earth’s Atmospheric Design

Earth's Atmospheric Design

One of the many things that make our planet uniquely well designed is the atmosphere. Our atmosphere has the right density to burn up the 10,000 plus meteors that speed into it every year. It’s also dense enough to scatter the cosmic rays and X-rays from space, so we are protected from this deadly radiation by our Earth’s atmospheric design.

Also very important, the atmosphere is thin enough to allow light to penetrate so plants can grow. It contains the proper mix of gasses for all living things to use. There is enough oxygen for us to breathe, but not enough to cause dangerous, uncontrolled combustion. It has the right amount of carbon dioxide to allow plants to live and give us the right amount of the “greenhouse effect.” This proper amount prevents too much heat from radiating off into space, keeping Earth at a temperature that promotes life.

The atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, which is relatively inert, but plants need it to grow. Because nitrogen is inert, it’s released to the soil by bacteria and certain plants, such as legumes or by lightning or tectonic activity. The atmosphere is topped off with a layer of ozone that absorbs ultraviolet energy from the Sun to keep us from being overexposed to the harmful effects of UV rays.

When we look at Earth’s atmospheric design and compare it to that of other planets, we realize that God has given us just what we need for life on this planet.

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Synergy – Working Together

Synergy – Working TogetherThe word “synergy” comes from a Greek word meaning “working together.” We have often mentioned “symbiotic” relationships where living things work together in various ways. When non-biological forces work together with living things, we can call it synergy.

Synergy describes the relationship between plate tectonics and life on Earth working together. Plate tectonics involves plates of Earth’s crust moving in relation to each other. Plate tectonics is the force responsible for making continents and mountains and for causing volcanoes and earthquakes. Without photosynthetic life (plants), plate tectonics would have shut down because photosynthetic organisms provide energy for Earth’s geochemical cycles. Without plate tectonics, Earth’s crust would be a solid lid sealing vital nutrients and elements beneath the surface. The nutrients needed by plants would not be available. That means there would be no photosynthetic life.

Animals and humans depend on plants for food. The animals that don’t eat plants feed on the animals that do. It’s photosynthesis that removes the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases oxygen. All animals need oxygen, and excess carbon dioxide would result in a greenhouse effect, heating the Earth and making life impossible.

The point is that plate tectonics requires photosynthetic life, and life requires plate tectonics. Therefore all forms of life on Earth require both photosynthesis and plate tectonics working together in the right balance to exist. Was this balanced synergy system merely accidental, or was it planned? We think it shows intelligent planning by a divine Engineer.

For a fuller explanation of this, we recommend Dr. Hugh Ross’s book Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity’s Home.
— Rolnd Earnst © 2019