Could Overpopulation Save The Earth From Global Warming?
Jun 16, 2009 15:52
A team of scientists at Cal-Tech think they might have found a way to save the planet from global warming: breed faster. The more of us there are, the more nitrogen we take out of the atmosphere, cooling the planet.
One big reason why the Earth isn't much warmer already is the fact that the planet has the ability to shed carbon dioxide, say scientists Joseph Kirschvink, Yuk Yung, King-Fai Li and Kaveh Pahlevan. But the bad news is, the planet has nearly exhausted its ability to shed carbon dioxide, hence the risk of cataclysmic overheating. So we need another way to cool the planet, and scientists say the best way is to reduce the atmospheric pressure by eliminating nitrogen from the amosphere.
In the "blanket" analogy for greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide would be represented by the cotton fibers making up the blanket. "The cotton weave may have holes, which allow heat to leak out," explains Li, the lead author of the paper.
"The size of the holes is controlled by pressure," Yung says. "Squeeze the blanket," by increasing the atmospheric pressure, "and the holes become smaller, so less heat can escape. With less pressure, the holes become larger, and more heat can escape," he says, helping the planet to shed the extra heat generated by a more luminous sun.
Nitrogen, after all, makes up the vast proportion of the Earth's atmosphere, so the elimination of nitrogen would help the Earth regulate its surface temperature.
And the best part is that we're already doing it!
Strikingly, no external influence would be necessary to take nitrogen out of the air, the scientists say. Instead, the biosphere itself would accomplish this, because nitrogen is incorporated into the cells of organisms as they grow, and is buried with them when they die.
Since nitrogen is bonded to other elements in the body, when organisms (like humans) die, it isn't released back into the atmosphere. Thus, the more humans are born and then die, the better off it is for global warming, supposedly.
The scientists speculate that by continuing to overpopulate the Earth and then killing one another off, we could extend the life of the Earth by up to 1.3 billion years, which might allow us to make contact with other life forms who could teach us how not to overpopulate the Earth and keep killing each other.
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