03: Oxygen?

We take Earth for granted, so much for granted in fact one thing that comes naturally, we don’t even think about it, breathing. 

But if we knew even half of what it takes to make the oxygen we need? it would take your breath away.

Our planet is bustling with life, so how on the earth is there enough oxygen for everyone?

The answer takes in some pretty surprising stuff……

let’s get into it…….

It all begins in a desert, made of salt, Danakil, East Africa. A dust storm from here moves over the Atlantic all the way to South America.

 

Now in Amazon, Brazil…

Every year about 27 million tonnes of that African dust drops out of the sky into the Amazon basin and it turns out to be the perfect fertilizer. And as they grow, the plants and trees turn carbon-di-oxide into oxygen. One single tree can produce enough oxygen to support two people.

Amazon rainforest produces about 20 times more oxygen than all the people on the surface of our planet could consume. But sadly not one breath of it leaves the Amazon.  There is so much life out there that uses all the oxygen up.

 

So if it’s not trees, then what else can it be?

If we could look inside the trees. Water is sucked up from the forest floor. When the water hits the top. The combination of sun and wind turns it into a mighty river. A flying river. If it was a normal river, it would be the largest on this planet. This river of clouds flows across South America obscuring everything beneath it. Until it runs into a Huge wall, 5500 miles long and up to 4 miles high, yes I am talking about the Andes.

The clouds condense into raindrops which then race down the slopes and flow directly back into the Amazon basin eroding the rock and turning it into a sediment until all those nutrients are dumped into the ocean and a whole other world.

And waiting for those sediments is an extraordinary organism, 4 times thinner than a human hair, it’s called a diatom. Diatoms are the secret to the Earth’s oxygen supply. They use silica from the ground up the rock to create new shells which allows them to reproduce. Their population doubles every day and thereby they begin to photosynthesize. Each one starting to produce oxygen.

Take a breath, now take another. Now think about this. One of those breaths was entirely provided by their little fellas under the sea.

But you know what? Diatoms are important not just because of what they do when they are alive, also what they do when they are dead. They are trillions of them. They can’t all rely on flying rivers. So diatoms around the world have to get their nutrients in different ways.

 

Now in Svalbard, Norway………………..

The glaciers here are unusual. They can slide in sudden spurts. Sometimes these move 300 times faster than the normal glacial pace. You can hear them crushing a huge amount of rock. As they grind their way down the valley. Just one Collapse. It dumps thousands of tons of ice into the sea. And that powdered rock is the perfect diatom food, sparkling a feeding frenzy and a popular explosion and the glacier suddenly comes to halt and remain dormant for decades. When the nutrients run out. The blooms fade and most of the diatoms die. Their carcasses slowly fall to the ocean floor. Where they fill a layer of half a mile thick. It’s called a marine snow. That’s what exactly It looks like, Snowflakes. But unlike them, they never melt.

And over millions of years, the seabeds rise, ocean levels fall and the ocean floor becomes a salty desert.

Here comes the interesting part, if u had been following the story from the beginning, you are going to love this.

The desert that blows all the way to Amazon, That was once a seabed and the dust that makes the rainforest grow are diatom shells.

It just shows us how incredibly interlinked everything is. There is absolutely nothing on one side of the planet that isn’t connected in some way with the other side of the planet.

It’s just astounding how all the systems down there must work together in order for us to breathe.

 

“Everything on the Earth contributes to everything else.”

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