Not Everything Is About CO_2

Climate change is a major crisis, don't get me wrong, and it's something that needs to be discussed extensively in both scientific and policy circles. We're pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at rather too high a rate, and getting something done about that is a key priority.

It's possible, though, to take the obsession on climate and CO_2 a little too far, though. Such as this news story from Physics World:

A cosmic gamma-ray burst striking the Earth could be harmful to ocean plankton at depths of up to 75 m, according to a team of Cuban researchers. These organisms account for up to 40% of the ocean's photosynthesis, so such an event could have a serious impact on Earth's carbon dioxide levels.

You know, call me crazy, but I suspect that in the wake of a gamma-ray burst striking the Earth with enough radiation to damage plankton at a depth of 75m, we'll have problems a little more immediate than the carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere...

And on that cheery note, have a nice weekend!

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This is priceless. Two immediate questions is why is this news (the plankton managed to survive the deadly gamma rays for a long time now), and what could be done about it (that's where some good old fashioned sci-fi can kick in, earth shield? mission to blow up some supernovas?).

feralboy12@2

And what will be the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds?

By Michael I (not verified) on 24 Jul 2010 #permalink

You know, call me crazy

All right, I will.

The gamma-ray strikes aren't a current problem, and anyway there's nothing we can do about them. The CO2 levels *are* a current problem, and there *is* something we can do about them.

It would be really, really serious if the earth got swallowed by a parsecs-tall Muppet, so why are we troubling ourselves about CO2 levels?

I think the premise of this post is correct. If Earth got hit with enough gamma-ray photons to kill ocean plankton down to 75m depth, we land dwellers would be in a world of hurts.

However, the likelihood of that happening before we deal with CO2 (or it deals with us) is vanishingly small IMO.

"Sufficient unto the day..."

By Chris Winter (not verified) on 25 Jul 2010 #permalink

You know, call me crazy, but I suspect that in the wake of a gamma-ray burst striking the Earth with enough radiation to damage plankton at a depth of 75m, we'll have problems a little more immediate than the carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere...

Funny, I was thinking that in the wake of a gamma-ray burst hitting the Earth, we'll have problems a little more immediate than what happens 75 metres below seasurface. Such as ... Iono ... WHAT HAPPENS TO US ON THE SURFACE WHO'RE NOT PROTECTED BY 75 METRES OR WATER!