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Our Earth - a planet - our Home

Human Past, Present, Future

Many bright minds thought about our life on Earth.
Thoughts that could help to show the way to a better life.
That's the reason we publish our thoughts and ideas to YOU. Some people might like it, others will simply click away as fast as possible.
Click away was not possible 12000 years ago, when the last ice age changed the climate on Earth in a big way. Archeologists can calculate that at this time around 1 million humans have lived on our whole planet.
The ice of the North covered areas far down South. The few humans were hunters and gatherers. The small fires where they got a little bit of warmth, were not able to raise the carbon dioxide CO2 levels in Earth Atmosphere.
Graphic of greenhouse gases in our Earth atmosphere
Amount of a few greenhouse gases in our atmosphere
See the changes in nitrous oxide
See the strong greenhouse gas methane
See CO2 / carbon dioxide
See what happened since the industrial revolution started

When the ice began to melt, the melting water was digging in. Deep fjords, deep canyons changed the look of our continents.
Everything changed: Before the melting huge amounts of water were bound in snow and ice.
Earth's sea levels were 120 m = 394 ft lower than today. There was no Baltic sea, the North sea was almost dry, between Asia and America was a land bridge, so people could walk from Asia to today's Canada. There was also a way to walk from England to Ireland. Most of the Mediterranean islands were no islands, you just could walk to them. The Persian Gulf and the Guf of Suez had almost no water.
In Asia many many of today's islands were connected. Between India and Sri Lanka was a land connection, and in Australia humans and animals could walk to New Guinea or to Tasmania.

earth map. Graphic showing all Earth oceans
Earth map with red-marked glaciers.
Click here to see photos how glaciers have melted
Glaciers are very important for life on Earth
Billions of humans get their drinking water from glaciers
Where will they go to get a sip of water?

The Gulf current which delivers warm water to Europe for about 3 million years was moved more to the South by the ice shields. So it rained a lot in the African Sahara, it was green and humans could harvest their food there. Even a few lakes with wildlife and fish existed in the Sahara.
After it got warmer again, many regions could support the growth of trees again. Forests started to grow again more and more in northern regions.
Warmer? Yes, temperatures changed...
Graphic of temperatures in the last 2000 years
Temperatures of the last 12000 years
Never before changes were that fast

We know from scripts and from the growth of sea shells, that temperatures were not always constant. Strong earthquakes darkened the skies, plants didn't get enough light, people could not harvest, many died of starvation.
In Iceland the vulcano GrÝmsv÷t erupted from 1783 bis 1785. Whole Europe suffered from changing weather. In close-by Greenland the huge ice shield was thawing and a huge freshwater lake was building up. When the water from this lake suddenly flooded into the Atlantic ocean, the gulf stream, that is running close-by Greenland could not run smoothly anymore. Fresh water has a different weight than salty water, the flow was disrupted. Temperatures in northern Europe dropped extremely, many humans froze to death. Winter temperatures dropped to minus 40 to 50 degrees Celsius. Lakes and rivers froze solidly. Farmers could not plant anymore in the frozen soil. No harvest = no food = millions died. Hunger and starvation was one of the reasons of the shortly after these events upcoming French revolution. Millions of humans died.

We already have talked about the strongly expansion of forests in the northern regions. More in the South the beautiful island Madeira got its name from the Portuguese word for wood; the island was once almost completely covered by forests. Not only Madeira, but also today's Italy, Greece and most of all Germany were covered by forests.
In a Roman script one can read: ".. a squirrel could cross Germania from East to West, from tree to tree, without putting a foot on the ground..."
Today the area of Germany is covered with 32% forests while
Great Britain only has a coverage of 12%.
Portugal today can still show up with 38% forests on its area.
China is planting trees, more than are cut down. Today China has reached 22%, with a yearly growth of 27630 sq-km.
The country with the worst record is Brazil. 22000 sq-km of forests are cut down yearly.

When we look at Earth in its whole, 80% of all trees are cut down. When we look at the rain-forest areas one could be shocked. Compared to the rain-forests that existed 4000 years ago only 7 % remain, 93% are cut down.
Cutting down more and more trees results in many different damages to our life. When you look at Greece and Italy you can see that today there is no soil anymore to plant new trees. After people cut the trees, the next rain was washing away the soil. Stony rocky deserts came up, the groundwater levels were going down, wells went dry, and the local climate changed.
Back to Earth in its whole: Missing 90% trees have changed our climate, it became more volatile, more erratic. Nowadays more and more people cannot afford the rising food prices, cannot feed their families anymore. (History books show us that when this happened in the past, new leaders were rising up promising people what was not possible)
In the Caribbean is a country where one can see how humans can destroy the land. In the west part of the island Hispaniola lies Haiti, today one of the poorest states on Earth. On the West part of the island the Dominican Republic can feed their people well and attracts many tourists. In 1990 Haitians had cut down the rain-forest by 98 %. Desertification took place, food shortages, starvation, criminal gangs. Imagine that Haiti was after the French colonial time the richest state in Latin America, now the poorest...
Forests have a special way to hold and protect the soil. They can stabilize a slope, can protect lower laying areas. After people were cutting down these slope forests the next strong rain started to move the slope, whole villages were destroyed by mud, soil and water. People there lost everything their have worked for.

Trees store carbon dioxide in their wood, they produce oxygen.
Coal was built when huge forest areas were covered by mud and rocks about 300 million years ago. The long stored CO2 is released today when we burn the coal.
CO2 in the Earth atmosphere Grafic Chart last 10000 years
Measured CO 2 at Hawaii observatory in red
Carbon dioxide CO2 in our atmosphere during the last
10000 years - data from fossilized shells
Never before a rise was so abrupt

Carbon dioxide CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 10000 years

But not only trees can store carbon dioxide. In the last decades, our world ocean has been taking in carbon dioxide in huge amounts of this acid gas. One can easily measure the amount of CO2 in every ocean on Earth. So we can clearly see the changes in PH in Earth's oceans. Sea water got more acid, but most sea creatures have chalky shells, or bones. Calcium and acid do not like each other, there is a reaction, and acid is dissolving the lime. We are not surprised that the beautiful coral reefs all over Earth are dying. It is sad, that future generations cannot admire these wonderful underwater structures. The more terrifying parts are the changes to life in the ocean. Coral reefs are the kindergarten for most of our sea life. Coral reefs protect the young ones, they can hide, are protected, so they can grow up. No imagine what will happen to over 1.6 billion humans who depend on the sea food they can catch out of the ocean as their main meal. Without coral reefs the food source ocean will diminish = many humans will starve, and many will start to look for food in other regions. Imagine 2 billion migrants....

Have a look how much CO2 is released on Earth CO2 output

At the beginning we wrote, that 120000 years ago about 1 million humans have lived on Earth. You know that this has changed too:
population on Earth history
7,38 billion humans live today on Earth.
Every 8 seconds a new human is born,
every 12 seconds a human dies.
Humans and all mammals breathe in oxygen, breathe out carbon dioxide.
A simple calculation:
When we breathe out about 4% CO2 is in our breath. An adult man is breathing out about 18 liter of CO2 an hours.
1 million humans had about 18 million Liter CO2 an hour in the breath.
In a day that's about 432 million liter CO2.
Not too long ago 1 billion humans blew 432000000000 Liter CO2 in the atmosphere.
Nowadays ~7,38 billion humans live on Earth, climbing...

So what?
Humans need to eat... more humans eat more.
Many humans like to eat meat every day.
So we know the amount of CO2 that humans are breathing out,
now let's add the CO2 of today's food animals:
Did you know that humans on Earth have 2 billion cows to harvest meat?
Did you know that humans on Earth have 1 billion pigs to harvest meat?
Did you know that humans on Earth have 1 billion goats to harvest meat and milk?
Do you like your breakfast egg?
Just 15 billion chickens are used to harvest eggs and meat.
Is it important to mention 600 million sheep?
All these animals live because humans need them for food, but all these animals breathe in oxygen, breathe out carbon dioxide.
One bad thing with the 2 billion cows: They produce methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times stronger than CO2.

Interesting numbers, but we all know that it is difficult to hold your breath for a longer time.
But, when you think back, in the old days, meat was not every day on the table. So eating less meat would lead to less greenhouse gases.
There is another easy way to reduce greenhouse gases:
Reducing the amount of energy we use!
When we look at the amounts of fossil fuels burned on Earth, one could get crazy.
One part is used in cars and trucks, another part is used to produce electricity.
Look at this number: 7.861,1 mio. tons of coal are harvested on Earth and burned.

Burning one ton of black coal releases 3.7 tons of CO2.
1 kwh of electricity blows 1 kg CO2 in the air!
We tried if we can reduce our electricity bill: It was quite simple to save money and CO2


But today's humans do not only use electricity. In the last 200 years the usage of liquid fuel has risen sharply.
Don't be shocked: 95 million Barrel Oil are burned 2016 A DAY.
1 Barrel Oil equals 158,9 Liter
1 Liter gasoline burns to 2,3 kilogramm CO2
1 Liter Diesel burns to 2,6 kilogramm CO2
1 kg natural gas burns to 2,7 kilogramm CO2
Why are these numbers so high? C = carbon, when it burns it needs O = oxygen. So the amount of CO2 is higher because of the burned oxygen.
If Earth oceans would not have gulped in so much CO2, the climate on Earth would be very different.
Wolf heult den Mond an
We are sorry to report, that some people think it is enough action to howl at the moon...

Another Earth is visiting Earth in the hospital. Our Earth says I am sick, I think I have homo sapiens. The other Earth replies Once I had it too, but they got rid of themselves

Albert Einstein once said in a speech: "...Those should be ashamed of themselves who faithfully serve science and technology, yet mindlessly grasp nothing more of its miraculous nature than a cow conceives of the botany of the plants on which it feeds and complacently chews its cud..."

In case you think about upgrading your conservation education look at our web-page About us .
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Nature can exist without humans, but humans cannot survive without nature.
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Peter Bonenberger - president
Marianne Bonenberger + director of education
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edu@keepearthbeautiful.org
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