Juan Carlos Borrero | “Vital Objective” - Five actions to recover the ecological balance
Juan Carlos Borrero

Juan Carlos Borrero | “Vital Objective” - Five actions to recover the ecological balance

Well, thank you very much… Time is very short. Thanks to the main table and thanks to all who came, because you are the ones who honor us with your presence. Many thanks.

Well, I think that talking about biodiversity and man alone is impossible. Why? Because man is part of biodiversity; and maybe man is the most fragile link in biodiversity, for a very simple reason: If a tree disappears, it is very possible that man disappears. Last tree dead, last man dead. But if a man disappears, a forest revives. The forest manifests and expresses itself.

That is to say, we are part of biodiversity and we are —although we do not believe it— the most intelligent, but we are the most fragile chain that exists in the link of diversity. That is why if we do not take care of it, if we do not take care of the surface where all the scientific and technological events take place, nothing… Science doesn’t make any sense, if it is not to preserve the place where we develop it.

Second. You see… (This is a preamble that I am making based on the audience). One always sees a tree and always sees the lush foliage, sees the robustness of the trunk, but never sees the splendor of the root; and it turns out that the most important thing is the splendor of the root, to see how robust the trunk is and how leafy the tree is.

It turns out that since you can not see the splendor of the root, everything that produces that splendor (which is not seen) is mythical for men, magic and witchcraft —from the scientific point of view—; and when science discovers it, then it is science, technology and measurement. In any way we are looking at the two things, that splendor is real. In an invisible way: we do it through the indigenous ancestral communities; and through science and technology: we make it visible; but it is exactly the same; that is, there is no difference.

And third. I would like to, if you like to take notes, or this will remain… is: What is knowledge? Because if we do not know what knowledge is, we will continue again with many protocols, with many summits…; 2001 passed, hunger went up instead of diminishing, troubles were worse, more wars; and it is because we have sometimes confused ourselves with what knowledge is (and I am going to be very brief).

Knowledge is the sum of three elements:

  • The first element is education. Education is the ethical and moral training that should be done of a child or a child at home (that is one of the parts).
  • The second element is training. Training is the structuring of ideas and knowledge, whether through teachers or through ancestrality: what the ancestors bring and what the teachers can provide.
  • And the last thing (which is the simplest), is the information. Today, information is on the tip of the finger: you take the finger’s eyelid and put it on a computer, and a maze of truths and lies opens up: 90% of lies, 5%... sorry, I’m saying it incorrectly, around 30% of lies, 50% of pornography, 10% of gossip and some truth. Because that’s the information.

So, do not think that opening a computer, through an iPhone, through a tablet, through any instrument, is generating knowledge. It is delivering information that has to be evaluated ancestrally ⏤which is indigenous knowledge⏤ or that is given by the academics; and that obviously is put into practice if there is a healthy heart, that is, if there is education.

So, I wanted to leave those points clear, which I found interesting, before starting our presentation here. (I’ll try to be quick, I have 100 images; you can imagine…)

The Earth is a living system. The Earth is systemic, the Earth is not a structure of dead rock. Everything is functional, everything is systemic; and the Earth depends on each of its systems to provide the habitat that we have. That is clearly defined by the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, the geosphere, the biosphere, and the cryosphere. (Later on, it could be, I could… but for now we’re just going to quickly comment on these matters).

In the atmosphere we have something called the ozone layer, which is what has allowed all living beings on the planet to exist. We also have the effect of natural greenhouse, which is a geothermal of more or less than 17° (which is in 1 carbon cycle), where we have always had a very pleasant temperature for all human species to develop. That is to say, that the greenhouse effect is good and that the ozone layer existing is good.

This greenhouse effect has been formed by volcanic eruptions over millions of years, by the calcium cycle that occurs in corals, which also shed charcoal and mix with oxygen and form carbon dioxide; and this carbon dioxide molecule, then, it is apparently very healthy and very good when man does not affect it, that is, when we have proportional quantities.

Similarly, the Earth has a defense system called the albedo, which is the amount of water that allows the sun’s rays to come in and reflect and stick (as if they were a mirror), and come out.

What has this done? What has he done? That all the microbiology of the sea, the ozone layer, plus the temperature, plus the albedo, allow all these tiny animals that we are seeing ⏤which are called phyto and zooplankton⏤ to survive. If they survive, they will feed the krill; and if they manage to feed the krill (which are the smallest species) they will feed these large mammals, which are the ones that abound in the sea. That is, everything depended on an ozone molecule so that this could be alive; that is, everything is connected. Everything is chained in this perfect ocean of biodiversity, atmosphere and land of biodiversity.

But we also have a microbiology in the sea, which has caused oxygen to be produced. 80% of the oxygen that we breathe comes from the sea, it does not come from the plants. It initially forms in the sea through some algae that have the capacity to decompose the H2O (that is the water), they stay with the hydrogen and they release the oxygen. They also take the carbon (carbon dioxide) that falls into the sea, separate it and form oxygen. The oxygen we breathe comes from the sea.

The sea also has extraordinary things: the clouds. The clouds do not depend only on physical and chemical phenomena, they depend on a biological phenomenon; that is, everything is chained. What’s going on? There have been millions of volcanic eruptions in the sea for a long time; thousands of thousands of volcanic eruptions.

The sea is like this glass (with all due respect); and if this vessel is constantly receiving sulfur, what would the vessel be? A wash of sulfur; but it is not. And why is it not? Because it has a microbiology, which is this microbiology called sulfate-reducing microorganisms, which has the ability to catch that sulfur, reduce it and form condensation nuclei.

That is to say, the sulfur (which was a poison for the sea) is eaten by a microbiology, it becomes a nucleus of condensation, and the condensation nuclei are what form the clouds. Which was going to cause a horrible problem in the sea ⏤which was sulfur⏤ in all that Cambrian and Precambrian explosion, today, through microbiology, it became one of the greatest benefits that generates condensation nuclei, and of course, have the clouds.

So here is a diagram of how that microbiology (sulfate-reducing) eats the sulfur, generates something called dimethylsulfide, generates the condensation nuclei and forms the clouds. It’s amazing: Clouds are formed by biological processes. Until 25 years ago, physics and chemistry refuted it and told us that they were crazy; there are already doctorates in institutes on this subject.

Trees in natural forests also produce condensation nuclei, and these condensation nuclei are in natural forests; let’s say, forests that have not been anthropogenic, relict forests; and that is why in the tropics, everything that is the tropic and what the average northern part is, produces its own rains without the need of seasons, because we have this type of forests that produce these condensation nuclei, and these condensation nuclei are going to produce these clouds that we are seeing here; and we have our own rains, without being seasonal.

I think there is a mistake in some books; our hydrological cycle should have an additional sum that says: “It also depends on microbiology.” That is to say, we are discovering a new microbiological world, we are discovering… that is why I started: “that splendor of the root that we did not see,” and everything is concatenated.

This produces, then, the clouds of the tropics. Our forests are permanently cloudy because they have a large emission of condensation nuclei, capture the water that is in the form of a flush, condense it and form clouds.

There is something even more important in water: Who fertilizes the planet? Who fertilizes the planet? Who fertilizes the lands of the indigenous peoples? I had a case in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Martha, and this relationship between ancestrality and scientific knowledge is very important. Why? Because we found something. Look, they burned ⏤after very long summers⏤ they set fire to the Sierra, because with the fire the land then turned green, very green, and then there was a big explosion.

It turns out that there was an ancestral confusion, but nevertheless we understood it among all. And which one is it? The one that fertilizes the jungles of the world is really atmospheric nitrogen. Nitrogen is urea (when you buy urea you are buying nitrogen). But the atmosphere has 70% nitrogen. What’s going on? That nitrogen does not fall to earth until lightning strikes.

When the rays are formed, the molecular nitrogen breaks down and remains atomic (that is, it becomes more heavy) and comes to the ground and then fertilizes. That’s why you see these jungles, who fertilizes these jungles, if they are much greener than any fertilizer we can make? It is when the invisible through science is becoming visible.

Then we told them: It’s not the fire. It is that the lightning bolt falls, it breaks the nitrogen molecule ⏤because there is N2⏤ and that nitrogen falls to the ground and then it turns green again. Then, when the lightning burns, it was thought that it was the fire of lightning; but in reality the earth gives away more beautiful things: it came with its nitrogen package; and that is why there are storms, so that the cycle is perfectly fulfilled.

The leaves make something even more beautiful than producing oxygen (it does not mean that they do not clean the air and let the oxygen remain free); they do not produce it; carbon dioxide comes, they stay with the carbon and let the oxygen that was produced flow through, where? in the sea; but she is not producing it, she is cleaning it.

What does a leaf really do? The most incredible thing for me of nature: convert light into mass; and that's why it’s called… (I do not know at what point we deviated in information and in bad knowledge, we pressed the wrong button and gave us the wrong information).

What does a leaf do? Take a photon of light and turns it into a mass. Imagine one being able to convert light into mass. That has a lot more mystery and has more science than producing oxygen, because who takes a photon to make it mass? Plants do it, and that’s why all living beings exist on Earth. And that’s why that initial word photo: from “photon,” synthesis: from “food.” It synthesizes the photon and converts it into food. It’s not oxygen production, we have to change the subject a little bit.

Here it is checked in a laboratory called NASA’s Magnolia Services (where I have some research), and we managed to capture with an electron microscope where photons are being captured. With this, science will be able to do something later on.

Then all that oxygen that we breathe, because it comes, we already know: everything is a biological synthesis.

Now, this is the look we have made ⏤technological⏤ to the planet, where we change (unfortunately). We made desensitized changes; we made a migration of non-directional technology (because we did not consult it with the ancestral ones); and then, of course, you have to do technological migration, but you have to do it in two ways. Actually, if I can support it ⏤it’s called technological support⏤ and I can maintain it ⏤it’s called sustainability⏤ and if what you're going to give me is profitable.

So, we did not do that. We ignored something called the transition shadow. When we migrate a technology there is like an eclipse: while it starts there is a very large shadow. What do we do in that shadow? That is where we are. And then, it is this, to explain that shadow of transition. And then, this is, to explain that shadow of transition.

When the CD came out (we all know it, the Indians, we all know a CD), Philips had already invented the USB 20 years ago. Why did he not take the USB out? Because the acetate was engraved on everyone’s head like a round disc; and then, if I had made something square, nobody would’ve bought it. Then he decided to take out, after the acetate disk, the CD and then the USB, in order to have a functional transition shadow. We have to enter into that shadow of transition if science wants to save the planet.

And then, since we don’t know the shadow of transition, although ⏤we can and we think we can do things as stupid as this: take polar bears to the Tatacoa desert (I don’t know which desert is here); but putting cows with dolphins to swim because we think that “one can bring technologies and put them together”; or planting orange trees in the South Pole, and then “we are convinced that this will work”; or take penguins to a desert. Why? Because we don’t measure the transitional shadow.

Also, since we don’t measure this and we don’t realize many other things, our forests never ..., those that are in the intertropical cord to  below Bolivia, do not have this form, they are not coniferous (this is a cone); they are designed like this to withstand snow, to withstand wind and to protect a microbiology, of which there is none.

Our forests have this triangulation upside down. And we have changed this geometry because someone told us that it had to be changed “because it is that the developed countries…”. That’s what a president of mine thought 60 years ago in Colombia: “I studied in Cambridge and the trees were like that. Those tropical trees that are like that are uncivilized.” And he did not realize that these trees are like that because they stop the drop of water so that the soil does not erode, they stop the wind so that it can be made a condensation nucleus, it protects the microbiology so that there are those nuclei and generate our hydrological cycle. This is doing very well for Panama; we are doing some water regulation studies understanding our germplasm forest.

We have also flooded the Earth with oil. The Earth itself hid the oil thousands of meters underground, so that the oxygenic life ⏤which is what we all have⏤ would take place. Unfortunately we did not realize that and we are unearthing it. If the Earth buried it, it’s because of something, because she had a reason to do it: to give way to an oxygenic life. Today, that which took more or less 60 million years to be buried, we are unearthing it in less than a millisecond ⏤in we have been unearthing it for two hundred years⏤, and with the consequences of heating the planet.

And then this molecule of carbon dioxide (which we see here as a skull), that’s what it is, it is exactly that: it is warming the planet so much that what we know today as the oxygenic life (and everything that is on top of it) can disappear. Why? Because the normal volcanoes, ⏤which generated the normal greenhouse effect⏤ we have added more than 6 billion of these chimneys, which, without any control, emanate carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Likewise, we convinced ourselves that we could solve this, we decided to make the era of agrofuels. But we did not realize that to make a liter of pure alcohol here, I had to plant with a tractor that uses oil, plow plow with a tractor that uses oil, burn: that generates CO2, throw poisons: they all come from petroleum synthesis; afterwards, they pick up and transport it in a car that carries oil; then put some mills and chimneys that all work with bagasse and coal and all that; and that the sum of all that generated five times more CO2 than the liter that burned here in the car. And this makes things go up.

So, we did not see it until recently. And obviously, for the global industrial sector, this conference in Gothenburg, in all these countries, generates: “What do you mean? What are you telling me?” I am telling you that at some point you are lying to us, as simple as that; and that’s why the planet is getting warmer.

And these are our cities, they are heating up. For one to have an Earth like this, doesn’t mean much, because I take off my coat or go to the cold; but microbiology can not move.

And what size is it? If I put a coal next to my foot, does something happen to me? No; that is, I don’t even feel the heat. But if the coal is the size of me and I am the size of coal, I incinerate myself. Microbiology ⏤that is called enthalpy⏤ the smaller it is, is more affected by heat.

So, the story that “0.5 ° doesn’t do anything” is destroying all the microbiology of the planet!

So we are bleaching corals. Already 70% of the world’s corals are bleached. And this enemy ⏤which is very serious⏤ which is chlorine, is responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer. A molecule of chlorine destroys a billion ozone molecules.

So what happens? We make social programs with hypochlorites, with a lot of things (for the housewives) without knowing that every time we are using that ⏤by evapo-transportation⏤ chlorine goes into the atmosphere and is destroying ozone. That is, the invisible too, if it does not become visible, it destroys nature.

Here you see how… this is a real photo, from an electron microscope, where a molecule of chlorine breaks the ozone, and we can not say that it is not true. Now watch: we must change the practices of cleaners worldwide, because we are destroying the ozone layer. And we already saw at the beginning what was happening with the ozone, right? If the ozone is not there, all that microbiology, look at what happens: the ultraviolet light rays come in, they destroy the DNA, and all the microbiology dies.

Do you want to know how much microbiology is dead? All this that is in the Pacific, in the South Pole.

We have been to the South Pole, we have dated for the rupture of the… And if that dies there is no krill and there are no whales. And we think that we are in a game, writing documents and, of course, doing this kind of conferences. But ladies and gentlemen, we have to enter the actions, because we are at a turning point. Whatever we do or do not do…

At the Gothenburg Summit, I was slightly tough: I said that they had made the wrong Summit. How is it that “this has to propitiate the new academy of children, environmentally”? That is false. What you have to do is rebuke the man of today, because if not, there are no children to educate tomorrow. That is to say, that we are preparing the solution of the children? I think it’s a scoundrel. It is to reprimand the man today and doing the actions today, otherwise there will be no children to educate tomorrow. Do we agree?

So, we also do invisible things. For example, they tell us that “whales are stranded because they become disoriented.” False. The whales are going crazy because of the sonars (this, more or less… where is a speaker?) Well, they are going crazy for the sonars and they commit suicide, they make collective suicides where people see them. They have ⏤and the Indians know⏤ they are as aware as we are, but they do not speak Spanish, they have other vocal cords, and they can not go and say to one: “Go! You’re killing me!” Then they take, and go and commit suicide where mankind does see them, and says: “Poor things”; and returns them to the sea. An ocean contaminating electromagnetic pin (which we have already measured in our Pacific coast).

“This giant enemy, the enemy that is destroying all of the planets’ forests, is called data-phone.” Lies. They told us that “when the digital era came out, paper consumption would decrease by 50%.” Lies! Go out this week from here to see how many little rolls of paper come out of your pocket. It turns out that they invented that rolling paper (that little roll of paper), and there are data-phone since you leave your house until you enter your house; and there it is consuming…, the new source of paper consumption was generated, because the ream decreased ⏤obviously by computers⏤ but this little game was invented and this little game is destroying half of the world’s forests. All this has a solution, but we must know them.

Recently we were at the Iguazú Falls with my wife, but I said: “Look, the plane is going to be diverted.” The Iguazu Falls are 5 km and 5 km where you see green; when you no longer see green, you see this: millions of machines knocking them down to get the rolling paper. But the paper industries are among the most important in the country, and you have to… well, excellent, right? But today, a third of the planet’s oxygen has already been cut.

The plastic, totally overflowed.

So what are the proposals for this (I have very little time).

The proposals are the development of cystic housing platforms (later in the conference I will leave some writings), which are fully sustainable cities, cities where large groups of people can live with great comfort, where they can do all the transformation of the raw material and not generate any kind of contamination. This is designed in Barranquilla, which is a very congested city in Colombia (but has its theater, espopín and all this); and we are categorized, but the people who live here are from stratum 5 ⏤the highest⏤ being stratum 1 and 2.

We also have budgeted (here they are going to talk, of course, of trash processing, it seems to me very well, I will not do it myself) water treatment plant, industries there, everything that is clean technology.

Vehicle mobility has to change to electromotive mobility, otherwise the planet is doomed.

We have developed a biomolecular probe that is able to find hydrogen in microbiology; that is, we are very close to being able to have natural hydrogen.

We developed a product that cleans 100% hydrocarbons in a biological way. They studied it in the Gulf of Mexico spill: they did not use it because it was not business to clean up the issue; but these solutions already exist.

And we work in the transitional shadows of the products that have to be found ⏤biological⏤ to replace the chlorine.

And most importantly, we already found a way to solve the paper issue, which can be applied to everyone with just a small digital chart, and achieve that 10% of the world’s forests can be recovered in 20 years.

I would have more to tell you but I’ve run out of time, I have one minute left to say goodbye.

I would like to simply thank this Summit. I want to tell you that this way we are at the point and at the threshold of inflection, things are not over. I always tell my wife: as long as I have the last meter, I can win the race. And I think that in this last meter, all untied in the CUMIPAZ, can win the race.

Thank you very much.



The atmospheric pollution, the destruction of the forests and jungles, the contamination of the waters and the earth are transforming the climate. The process began little by little, two centuries ago, but it is now when we are detecting its consequences, however nobody knows the exact course that the catastrophe will take.

The earth is a living planet, its transformation over millions of years is an intricate chain of slow and precise events. It makes us think of a creator delighting in his design to provide the best and only habitat known to man so far; unfortunately we have ignored our symbiotic relationship with the planet, disrespecting it in such a way that what has lasted millions of years in being created can be extinguished, in cosmic magnitude, in the slightest fraction of that time.

It is a work of perfect balance, so precise that it looks like a rope stretched flush. Man, instead of following his course, stumbles constantly, destabilizing her and putting her in constant danger.

The diagnoses have been confirmed; in the meteorological laboratories the alarm has sounded. Powerful supercomputers have confirmed what many scientists and environmental organizations already suspected for some time: the climate has changed negatively and the modeling shows severe catastrophes. At this rate, in fifty years we will not recognize the planet.

Our conference “Objetivo Vital” offers five actions with a new model of Social, Scientific and Technological Innovation that would allow recovering the environmental balance of this Blue Tear.



Newspapers from the five continents reproduce daily news like these: Snowfalls out of date, droughts in humid regions, unprecedented heat shocks, and other irregularities of time that are less and less familiar.

Scientists are beginning to wonder if what seem like meteorological anomalies at the local level are not really the first signs of a global climate revolution. And reasons are not lacking; for the first time in the history of the planet, man has managed to introduce perturbation factors into the complicated mechanisms of the biosphere, which nature can not cushion for a long time. The destruction of the protective layer of ozone, the warming of the atmosphere and the oceans, the desertification of the continents and the pollution of the bodies of water are the immediate consequences, which translate into a radical change of the climate that we have enjoyed during the last millennia.

However, the most dramatic is the dizzying speed with which all these alterations will presumably occur compared to the slow climatic fluctuations that occurred in the past. Throughout the geological eras, the Earth saw how the perpetual ice grew and melted again, how the jungles became deserts and flourished. But these transitions were always very slow, with rhythms that can be measured for hundreds of thousands of years, precisely because of the enormous inertia that drives the climate machinery.

We can consider the biosphere as a gigantic mechanical clock full of cogs that act on others. The rope that provides energy to the whole is the sun.

Every day 4,000 trillion kilowatt hours is projected on us, mainly in the form of shortwave radiation.

Of this amount, a fraction is automatically reflected back into space by clouds, dust and air, and the rest is absorbed mostly by the atmosphere, the oceans and the mainland, a process in which light is transformed into heat, long wave thermal radiation. The latter gradually tends to dissipate into space, although a part is reflected back to the surface by certain gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, ozone and water vapor, acting as a valve that allows the shortwave radiation input but prevents the output of longwave radiation. This is the now famous "greenhouse effect", named for being the same that keeps the heat inside the buildings that keep microclimates confined for a specific task.

Radiation not reflected by air and clouds reaches the unevenly distributed land surface. On the equator and the tropics, the rays strike perpendicularly, so that these regions receive most of the total heat, while on the polar and subpolar zones they arrive at a very closed angle and barely heat up.

The consequence is an important thermal difference that the laws of thermodynamics are responsible for equaling, or at least they try, since new inputs of solar heat constantly arrive.

This natural tendency to compensate for temperatures between the equator and the poles takes place in two ways, one fast and the other slower. The first is the atmosphere itself, and the second, the water of the oceans; this model is of a perfect balance.

In the scheme of the general circulation of the atmosphere, the air of the hot and saturated tropics with steam ascends to the heights in the so-called intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and heads towards higher latitudes. As it passes, it rains rain over the jungles of the equatorial belt and causes the monsoons. When the air masses cool, they descend, already dry, to the height of the great natural deserts and transform into superficial trade winds that return towards the convergence zone. This same circular convex movement occurs in temperate latitudes, although here the masses of air are disturbed by the force of coriolis caused by the earth’s rotation, the jet streams and the front of cold air that comes down from the poles. The consequence is that winds are much more variable, and weather in general is harder to predict than in tropical regions.

In the oceans a similar process of energy distribution is verified. The hot water of the tropics rises in the form of marine currents towards the poles, descending again when it has cooled. However, due to the very nature of water, which has a higher density and heat capacity than air, circulation is slower and immune to external disturbances.

These two large circuits, which must be considered as a single system due to their close contact, determine the general climate of the Earth, although numerous additional factors, together with each other, are responsible for modifying and refining them. Among the most important are the distribution of the continents and the notable topographic features such as: great mountain ranges, lakes, jungles and deserts.

Another fundamental parameter of the climate is the albedo, or ability of a surface to reflect sunlight. A high albedo, for example, that possess the snowy landscapes, makes it difficult to warm the soil, which leads to a low rate of cloud formation.

On the contrary, a low albedo, such as jungle forests, favors the evaporation of water. In turn, the cloud layers reflect a large proportion of the incoming radiation, preventing it from being absorbed by the ground.

Ultimately, the general atmospheric circulation is affected by a multitude of feedback mechanisms that even cross each other. The complexity of these phenomena is such that science, even with the help of the most powerful computers, has been able to reveal them in all its points; as proof is the difficulty of establishing a detailed weather forecast, even if it is only a few weeks’ time.

However, what scientists have managed to detect quite clearly is the existence of a last climatic factor that, despite having existed for thousands of years on Earth, has only recently begun to deploy its full natural equilibrium modifying potential of the biosphere: man.

The main disturbance that on a world scale is (or rather, we can) be imputed is the intrusion in the carbon cycle. Schematically, it consists of the following: carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by the plant kingdom, which transforms it into organic matter and oxygen. When the plants die, part of the carbon accumulated in them, reacts with the oxygen in the atmosphere and is converted back to CO2 while another portion decomposes in the absence of oxygen and passes to form underground fossil fuel pouches in the form of peat, coal, gas and oil. On the other hand, the oceans, in permanent contact with the atmosphere, also absorb and fix CO2, converting it into bicarbonate. This is used by a multitude of marine organisms to incorporate it into their calcium carbonate shells that settle to the bottom when they die. Little by little the marine roof extends, due to the movement of the tectonic plates, and drags with it sediments that end up being subduced under the continents.The heat and pressure transform the remains of carapaces into CO2, a gas that is finally returned to the atmosphere through volcanic eruptions, to be available again to the vegetable kingdom.

But not only is CO2 essential for life on the biosphere because it is the raw material from which vegetables are fed (and from there on animals as well), but also because of its property to avoid with its presence in the atmosphere a significant part of the heat radiated by the earth's surface is escaped. Along with water vapor, CO2 participates substantially in the greenhouse effect, thanks to which the earth is at about 35 degrees Celsius above the temperature that would reign if such gases failed. On the contrary, an increase in the concentration of these would trigger an overheating of the planet.

And this is precisely what we are causing. The combustion of the phytomass (whether alive in the form of forests and plants, or dead in the form of fossil fuels) releases the carbon stored in it into the atmosphere, transforming it into CO2. In the developed world we burn oil, gas, coal and biomass to keep economic progress running with overflowing interests, while in underdeveloped countries, in addition to the growing consumption of fossil fuels by its incipient industry, millions and millions of people born in the heat of the demographic boom they burn the wood of the forests as the only source of energy.

Both phenomena have experienced an exponential increase over the last decades, whose translation in the increase of CO2 contained in the atmosphere is already directly quantifiable by the instruments of the scientists.

An observatory located on the Mauna Loa volcano, in Hawaii, at 3,410 meters high (and far from any industrial center that could interfere with measurements) records since 1958 the concentration of CO2 in the air. That year, scientists recorded a value of 315 ppm (parts per million in volume), today the figure has risen to 410 ppm, which means an annual increase of 0.8%. Other studies, based on the science of paleoclimatology, have shown that this trend is not new and coincides with the rise of the industrial age and the demographic explosion in the Third World.

At the beginning of the 17th century the concentration was 270 ppm, it rose to 275 ppm at the beginning of the 19th century and reached a value of 290 ppm past the 1900s.

The current situation is aggravated by the action of other anthropogenic inducers, that is, created by man, which also contribute to the greenhouse effect, thus reinforcing the CO2 activity. One of them is methane (CH4), whose concentration has gone from 0.7 to 1.7 ppm in just a few decades, with an annual increase of 1%. This gas is released into the atmosphere by the processes of anaerobic decomposition in the extensive rice crops that feed the vast Asian population, as well as by the intestinal digestion of the hundreds of millions of cattle that exist in the world. Another gas capable of intensifying the heat trap of our atmosphere is nitrous oxide (N2O3), which is manufactured by bacteria from the artificial nitrogenous fertilizers used to fertilize extensive crops. Its concentration in the air increases at a rate of 0.2% each year.

The contribution of ozone (O3) to the greenhouse effect is much more complicated. On the one hand, its beneficial action is known as a filter for dangerous ultraviolet rays in the lower layers of the stratosphere, but at the same time it also reflects back to the earth's surface the heat that tends to escape into space, although in a smaller proportion than CO2 and steam.

It has also been demonstrated that the chlorofluorocarbons of sprays and refrigerating appliances (which are also very similar agents of the greenhouse effect), as well as the chlorine released into the atmosphere by constant evaporation in swimming pools, aqueducts and industrial processes, decompose the ozone shield for its upper part (a chlorine atom destroys a hundred thousand molecules of ozone) and at the same time that certain chemical reactions caused by CO2, CH4 and N2O rebuild it again, albeit at a lower rate, by its lower part. There are multiple consequences of this intricate mechanism.

As the ozone belt moves to lower and lower levels of the atmosphere, it reinforces its potential as a reflector of terrestrial heat and at the same time contributes to the destruction of forests and jungles for being a powerful poison. On the other hand, the arrival to the surface of a greater dose of ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun will cause the death of numerous plants, especially the sensitive phytoplankton of the oceans (responsible for 90% of the global photosynthetic activity —production of oxygen— and whose concentration around the Antarctic coasts, where the ozone layer is most damaged, is especially high), which will further accentuate the greenhouse effect attributable to CO2, due to the absorptive qualities of this gas which, as we have seen, has the living phytomass.

Not enough with it, the progressive desertification of the planet threatens to further fuel the fire. The fires of very large masses of forest and jungle caused both intentionally to gain farmland and fortuitously as a consequence, above all, of abnormally long periods of drought, induce an increase in the concentration of CO2, decrease the capacity to fix this same gas by part of the vegetal layer of the biosphere, they modify to a great extent the albedo of the destroyed areas and seriously interfere in the natural circuit of the water. The same happens if we exclude the emission of smoke (CO2), when forests recede due to other causes. In developed countries acid rain causes havoc, as well as excessive exploitation of the land through extensive cultivation and the massive felling of trees to make paper.

The developing nations, on the other hand, break up the jungles and deplete the regions bordering the deserts out of sheer necessity of survival, without realizing that perhaps they are digging their own grave.

What will be the repercussions of all this rosary of outrages that we commit with the biosphere of our own home? The scientific community is unanimously convinced that something, and serious, will occur, although the details differ with each prediction. What at this point seems beyond doubt is that the reinforcement of the greenhouse effect will induce an overall increase in the Earth’s temperature, of about 2 to 5 degrees Celsius, by the middle of this century, conditions that occurred last time 125,000 years, during the interglacial period of Eemian. In the last 25 years an average increase of 0.33 degrees could be registered both in the superficial layers of the tropical oceans and in the atmosphere, which has caused the regression of almost all the glaciers of the planet and an increase in the level of the sea, for dilation of water, about 7 cm.

The warming will be more pronounced at higher latitudes (about 7 degrees at the poles, 3 in the temperate regions and 1 or 2 in the tropics), although this does not mean that the poles are going to melt. Of course, this will be the trend, but the process can last for centuries; enough time for current conditions to change completely. On the other hand, the expansion of water and the liquefaction of glaciers and perpetual snow will mean that by 2030 or 2040 the sea level will be between 0.5 and 1.5 meters higher than today, with the catastrophic consequences that they will entail in the less elevated coasts, such as the fertile and populated river deltas Egypt, Bangladesh, China, the Beneleux, as well as thousands of coral islands of the Pacific and Indian oceans.

In the tropics, the thermal jump will lead to a greater evaporation of seawater and the consequent formation of cloudiness, intensifying the precipitations on the remaining jungles.

This increase of the convection will also cause monsoon shifts and strong weather turbulence in the form of hurricanes and typhoons.

In contrast, subtropical areas, usually dry and desert, will suffer even more from the lack of rainfall. It is likely that all these regions move a few hundred kilometers further north in the boreal hemisphere and south in the austral, which would be threatened with desertification important agricultural regions of Argentina, southern United States, southern Mediterranean basin of the Soviet Union and part of China and India.

In temperate latitudes the experts anticipate a greater agitation of the atmospheric circulation, which will be translated in strong meteorological anomalies, with alternation of extremely cold and hot, dry and humid stations.

Further north (or to the south, in the southern hemisphere) it seems that the climate of the mid-21st century will be more stable and benign. Of this, Canada and the Soviet Union will benefit above all, which will be able to extend the crops to unproductive areas. However, we must not forget the alteration of the albedo, which means, the melting of large areas today covered by snow; these effects can be transcendental, such as innumerable avalanches and runoffs.

It is not difficult to imagine the serious social, political and economic problems that will plague the world if these forecasts become reality.

Today we already see the massive emigration due to political and environmental conflicts, the displacement of agricultural production centers, the general upheaval in the administration of water resources that cause a global impact difficult to stabilize until after a long time. Of course, we will survive, but at what price?

It is possible that now that we begin to realize the true dimension of what seems to be coming, it is already too late to take effective action. However, it is necessary to join forces and do everything possible so that the disaster does not lead to a cataclysm that will suddenly return us to the Middle Ages. The "Vital Objective" conference proposes five basic options that we should carry out; these could perhaps make the needle that points towards extinction slowly modify its trajectory until the recovery of the climatic equilibrium.


access_time Mon, 10/16/2017 - 10:25