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Can chemists shift discussions from "global" to "biosphere?"

Greetings fellow Senior Chemists,

     It's no wonder that earth's biosphere has been likened to the skin of an apple.  The biosphere, where all known life exists on earth, is limited to the lithosphere and hydrosphere, which comprise earth's crust, and the atmosphere.  According to NASA, the radius of planet earth is over 6300 km and the crust is less than 100 km thick.  We truly live on the skin of this big blue marble. 

     Most humans experience life on a very localized scale and know that each of us has the merest effect. We're just a tiny drop in a huge ocean. We all agree that earth is huge!  Sure, we clamor for environmental protection on Earth Day every year. Some of us recycle our bottles, cans and newspapers, without contemplating that everything we make, consume and are will be recycled eventually.  Did you know that you can "Save Our Planet" if you just reuse your hotel towels another day?  It's easy to dismiss "global warming" and even "global climate change."  Don't be silly: the earth is huge!

     Can we shift the discussions to "biosphere" instead of global, earth or planet?  But--biosphere conjures images of surly scientists attempting to co-habitate in plastic bubbles. Perhaps a more fitting analogy is Petri dish.  Our biosphere is essentially a closed system and it's finite, which is the opposite of infinite. What each of us does matters.  What our governments do, matters. 

     Your thoughts, please?

2 Replies
Contributor III

Re: Can chemists shift discussions from "global" to "biosphere?"

Yes, it is all a matter of perspective, and interests! It's not that we really need to "Save the Planet" - in geological timeframes it will be what it will be. More correctly, we should be concerned about sustaining OUR habitat for reasonable lifetimes. We also need to be very aware and extremely cautious of the many opportunists who will use any fear to extract position, power and wealth from the fearful! Yes, mostly governments and so-called "public servants". I don't know where the "limit" may really lie - and the famous failed claims of Malthus now serve as an automatic "debunk" of population limits. BUT, if the "petri dish" example is valid (I think that it is), then it CANNOT be only about conservation, sustainability and "green" processes. At SOME point, "nature" will take care of an excessive human population, if we don't make it "sustainable" ourselves.

The second issue, and a huge driver in the discussions, is defining what is really a reasonable "quality of life", and is it just a desire, or something advanced human society would want to confer on every member? Again, there are LOTS of issues with income/lifestyle disparity that spend too much time on money figures and not enough time on the real value to society that a person provides.

Finally, one of the continuinng WORST impacts on the entire biosphere - plants, geography, people - is violent conflict (war)!!! Maybe the other proposals and programs of governments for a sustainable biosphere will be more easily received and implemented if they first showed their good faith by ceasing the production and use of arms at the "State" level. IF they can't even do that, I don't trust them to do anything else other than individual self-interest either.

Best regards,


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Contributor II

Re: Can chemists shift discussions from "global" to "biosphere?"

Thanks for the thoughts. Sometimes we think little changes (hotel towels, light bulbs, ridesharing, etc.) are not important. In the big picture, small changes help. It is interesting to note that energy usage is going down, which shows we are making progress on being responsible for our biosphere.

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