Tag Archives: Climate change

Stomatal Index and Level of Carbondioxide in Atmosphere

There was a time when things started rolling on with advent of photosynthesis by cyano-bacteria or green algae which began preparing its food from carbon dioxide and water which were the only substances available in plenty. They paved the way for introduction of oxygen into the atmosphere and for beginning of life dependent on oxygen.

In fact, both the products made by photosynthesis namely sugar and oxygen are used by animals including humans for sustaining their life. We animals are thus the species who learned to make use of the leg work of others to their own advantage. Of course, in today’s world, human beings who do this are termed smarter than the others.

So what the plants and algae used for making their food is being recycled back to the atmosphere in the form of green house gases. Plants use CO2 and H2O and took energy from the Sun to convert these to sugars and animals extract that energy from the food synthesized by plants and algae and return the CO2 and H2O back to the atmosphere.

CO2 is in fact one of the end products of burning the fossil fuels like coal and petroleum which are the preserved forms of energy of Sun due to being buried away from the reach of oxygen. Since all industrial activities use extensively these fuels, levels of CO2 are rising in the atmosphere to alarming levels.

Trees breathe the CO2 through the stomatal pores present in their leaves. They also lose the water through these pores during the day. They are smart enough to adjust the size of their leaves so as to optimize the intake of CO2 and loss of H2O for proper growth.

One such tree was born in 1948 in a isolated place on the edge of a pit 30 kilometers from Dutch city called Eindhoven. By 1990 it was a big majestic tree as most of the Birch family trees are. Scientists from the laboratory of Paleo-botany and Palynology named it fondly “Big Betty”.

During each autumn, the tree will shed a carpet of dry leaves into the pit. So layer after layer is deposited inside the pit. But scientists noticed a peculiar thing about the leave size. Each year the leave size began becoming smaller thus reducing the stomatal index. This was due to the fact that as levels of CO2 rose, the tree needed fewer number of stomata to inhale the same quantity as required and thus avoided the undue loss of moisture from the leaves. In fact when the levels of CO2 were plotted against the stomatal indices of leaves over these years, they matched the patterns of levels of CO2 variations. So the stomatal index was used to calibrate and interpolate the results to guess the levels of CO2 in the past.

Melting of Glaciers: Is the doomsday so near?

This is what Dr.Pachauri said about the IPCC during his Nobel Prize speech.

The IPCC produces key scientific material that is of the highest relevance to policy making, and is agreed word-by-word by all governments, from the most skeptical to the most confident. This difficult process is made possible by the tremendous strength of the underlying scientific and technical material included in the IPCC reports.

The Panel was established in 1988 through a resolution of the UN General Assembly. One of its clauses was significant in having stated, “Noting with concern that the emerging evidence indicates that continued growth in atmospheric concentrations of “greenhouse” gases could produce global warming with an eventual rise in sea levels, the effects of which could be disastrous for mankind if timely steps are not taken at all levels”. This means that almost two decades ago the UN was acutely conscious of the possibility of disaster consequent on climate change through increases in sea levels. Today we know much more, which provides greater substance to that concern.

I think Dr.Pachauri forgot about these qualities when the reports about the melting of Himalayan glaciers during a mere 35 years period were used to boost the claims of environment disaster and imminent dooms day. Is Kalki the purported tenth avatar of Vishnu will be here so soon to deliver the world from misery, sins and hell like situation? He resisted making an apology for months together and is now defending by saying IPCC generally accepts the reports and research papers after peer reviews and it has mistake in this case by overlooking the reviewing by peer.

Whatever good or bad happens in an institution is the responsibility of the person heading it, though he may not be able to go through every report personally. The person has to be ready to face the brickbats graciously if he is eager to lap the bouquets. It is surprising to note that he has been able to garner support from different quarters like prime minister of India and other vested interests in US and Europe. The conclusions of the report were so startling and sweeping as to make it absolutely necessary for through  review of the report by the experts before accepting it.

Nothing happens in nature so suddenly a burst. Time of natural processes runs in millions of years. Even to deposit 1 meter deep layer of soil on the earth may take thousands of years. Nature has its own safety mechanisms to protect it from the wrong doing by external celestial bodies and living things on it. Though Darwin’s theory of evolution has been modified from time to time that the change may not be uniformly gradual after all, that their are burst of extreme activity followed by periods of hiatus but these periods of intense activity are not one the scale of decades but thousands of years.

It is well known fact that drilling of earth for finding hydrocarbons is a very expensive and risky business. It is due to the fact that geologist who delineate the buried strata to give possible clues about the location of hydrocarbons pools can often make mistakes and target can be offset by hundred of meters speaks about our inability to understand the nature’s process. Even calculations based on the rate of burial are not fool proof.

It is an established fact that industrial growth, rich living style are the key factors which consume lot of energy and thus contribute amply to addition of heat, green house gases to the climate. Thus the developed countries of Europe and USA are to be blamed for the mess we are in. Since they have developed themselves and are unhappy about the way other under developed countries are on the path of development. So they now bring out the ploys like global warming and melting of the icebergs on the mountains. The bodies like IPCC are the fronts they use for their propaganda. To make their concerns genuine, they have put up an person from developing country as its president. The affluent nations have devised means like carbon credits to deter the third world countries from developing into industrial field. They will go on doing the damage but distribute it on the whole world by compensating the developing nations by buying their credits of carbon.

Imagine, if the report saying that by2035 all the snow will melt from Himalayan glaciers. In our own life time, there will be floods and India will submerge under water. No body is denying that tinkering with nature results in disasters. But even in India since ancient times, nature is worshiped. Pagan culture, as the westerns call it, is about becoming one with the nature. But if a country  progresses in a lopsided manner without taking into consideration to compensate the damage to nature by using means like provision of CO2 sinks in the form of planting more and more trees, underground storage or fixing by reacting it with minerals underground, the disaster is bound to happen. Everyone wants to make fast buck and throws caution and concerns to winds while setting up the factories and constructing buildings blocking the natural pathway of the sea. No body I think is unaware of the fact what happened in Mumbai floods. These were caused by the reckless construction activity in the already cramped place. The network of channels created by the sea with lots of mangroves are used as the safety mechanisms for prevention of floods. All these channels have been filled up and buildings have been constructed on it making the soil to loose its water absorbing capacity by dividing into isolated underground tanks beneath the buildings. The result is for all to see. Any person with average intelligence can logically understand this, he does not require the lessons from international bodies.

By the way, this year’s winter has been record breaking in many parts of the world. The temperatures have gone beyond the records. Was it an aberration on the part of nature or the nature’s ploy to make us complacent about the global warming.  If we continue to plant trees, they will take care of CO2 by growing faster and in turn providing us with more food, timber and oxygen. The crops with short life cycle are the best candidates for this in contrast to the older trees which does not grow much and need low amounts of CO2 to make their food.