Letter: Distortion of a Perfect System

To the Editor:

The Earth left to its own devices, without human interference, is a perfect system. The amount of solar energy it receives is radiated back at night, less that which has been absorbed by photosynthesis and the oceans. It is agonist-antagonist, as are all working systems.

We humans depend on solar energy. Plants transform it, by a system called photosynthesis using chlorophyll, into oxygen and into all of our food, including the animals we eat. Thus, all living things are stored solar energy.

When we die, if left to the elements, all this solar energy would be recycled as food for other animals and plants. Many millions of years ago dead forms of life were covered over by various means after their death and became fossilized. Today, we use them as coal, peat or gas — our fossil fuels.

Thus as we burn coal, oil and gas, we are adding to the system solar energy from hundreds of millions of years ago. We burn these using oxygen, the waste product of plants, and produce, among other products, carbon dioxide. All balanced systems in nature are agonist-antagonist. If a life form evolves, its antagonist evolves. The sun is not balanced and will cease to exist.

The excess carbon dioxide remains and traps heat, allowing the atmosphere to hold more water, resulting in more severe storms. The perfect system is distorted by human endeavor.

To illustrate a perfectly balanced agonist-antagonist system, think of the elephant and the dung beetle. Without the dung beetle, where would we be?

Herbert A. Knapp

Orford