Atmosphere

Earth atmosphere makes for a thin skin

On any given day I can jump in my car at my home and, traveling at highway speeds and within the speed limit, be at Disney World in just over an hour. Sometimes that’s a blessing. Sometimes just the opposite. You see Disney lies just a scant 65 miles away. Yet, if you were to change the direction of that trip and travel that same distance straight up, you would find yourself in outer space. That’s how thin our atmosphere is. There is no dividing line between the upper vapors of our atmosphere and space. It gradually just fades away. However, when gauging where outer space begins, the outer definitions peg it at about 62 miles above the Earth’s surface. Sixty two miles. That’s it.

To put that in perspective, in my “About” page here, I mention trips my family used to take from our home here in central Florida to North Carolina. We would be in the car for over 10 hours and travel over 600 miles. It would be 3 1/2 hours and over 200 miles before we even left the state of Florida. And looking at the immensity of the entire United States, our travels from Florida to the Carolinas is short. And we wouldn’t even leave the confines of “the South”.

Sixty two miles. That’s it. Sixty two miles of atmosphere that cover the entire Earth’s surface. It doesn’t seem like a short distance when we look up and see planes flying high overhead, but we’re fooling ourselves. The Earth is 8,000 miles in diameter, and all we get is 62 miles of atmosphere on each side.

But it is that thin veil that makes life possible here on Earth. It protects us from the Sun, provides us with oxygen to breath, generates a water cycle on which to live, and regulates a temperature range that makes life bearable.

And it is into this thin veil of protection that we continually and increasingly eject billions of tons of emissions each year. Is it any wonder that those emissions would have an impact? How is it possible that there are those who casually dismiss such a reality? Are we that brazen to believe that our actions do not bear consequences?

The greenhouse effect is a wonderful thing. How we are influencing it is not.

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