Thin Blue Line

Looking West from Ferndale

I am talking about that thin blue atmosphere surrounding our earth, not to be confused with the thin blue lines of masking tape showing support for law enforcement officers,.  You all know about our atmosphere, that stuff that makes wonderful sunsets & sunrises while at the same time makes plants grow, allows us to live and breathe.  So, sunsets & sunrises aside, I think we could all agree that our atmosphere is so vitally important to all of us that its health must cut across all political, racial, cultural, national lines.

This isn’t a new thought for me to think, I’ve thunk it many times before, but it just came into my brain again the other day when I ran across this picture looking west from Ferndale.  You don’t always see the air that you exhale or the exhaust coming from your car, but the plume in this photo is pretty clear evidence that we can pump significant amounts of stuff up into the air.  We also are doing this around the world 24/7 without most of us giving so much as a second thought to just how preciously thin our atmosphere really is.   I read somewhere that if the Earth were the size of a basketball, our atmosphere would be like Saran Wrap.  It’s just that thin and i find that to be a bit scary.

Thin Blue

This plume is likely just water vapor, maybe with a little bit of mostly harmless stuff thrown in for good measure.  I am fairly certain that our local refineries wouldn’t risk doing anything illegal as far as air quality and I am also fairly certain that nobody at any refinery desires to harm our atmosphere.   However, in my view it doesn’t really matter what may or may not be legal, or what anyone’s intentions are, or even what may or may not contribute to climate change, or even outright cause cause climate change.

In my view, what really matters is that we have a way to remove everything that we pump into our atmosphere.  The thin blue piece of Saran Wrap around our world needs to remain healthy for us to remain healthy (not dead).  This reality isn’t really open for political or social media debate any more than some other scientific realities, like… say gravity or a round earth, but I am sure that someone is already debating them both right now on Facebook,

Hey, check this out…


Respiration (what animals do)

oxygen + carbohydrate ==> energy + water + carbon dioxide

O2 + CH2O ==> energy + H2O + CO2


Combustion (what cars do)

oxygen + hydrocarbon ==> energy + water + carbon dioxide

O2 + CH ==> energy + H2O + CO2


 Photosynthesis (what plants do)

carbon dioxide + water + sunlight ==>> carbohydrate + oxygen

CO2 + H2O + sunlight -> CH2O + O2

Anyone remember learning about the Carbon Cycle in school?  Respiration, Combustion, and Photosynthesis?  Animals and cars burn hydrocarbons of one form or another and then “breathe” out CO2 and H2O.  Plants in turn, use CO2  and H2O, in the presence of sunlight, to store carbon in their roots and stems as they grow, while at the same time releasing oxygen back to our atmosphere.   It’s supposed to be a balanced cycle, but when you burn everything in sight, then dig up more ancient stuff from underground to burn, things get out of balance, then things go wrong.

I personally don’t happen to think that man alone is responsible for all of the current changes in our climate, there are so many factors, but we are certainly responsible for some of the change. The scientific reality is that we constantly put CO2 and H2O into the atmosphere both by breathing as well as burning all manner of hydrocarbons, but don’t have a good enough way to remove them from the air.  Both CO2 and H2O are major greenhouse gases, so bam there you go.

To save our Thin Blue Line we need to grow more plants and reduce our burning of hydrocarbons at the same time, like yesterday, that’s our scientific reality.