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Transcript of Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton form the base of the food chain for almost all aquatic life. Even zoo-plankton, their animal counterparts, are higher up than they are. Phytoplankton are the biggest producers of chemical energy in all of the oceans.
Effects on Geosphere
Phytoplankton affect the Geosphere by dying and then fossilizing, returning their carbon to the planet that originally provided it to them, by undergoing this process.
Effects on Hydrosphere
Phytoplankton oxygenate water. They take their carbon dioxide from the water, and leave the water with oxygen instead. This is because phytoplankton photosynthesize. This chart details what parts of the ocean have the most abundant populations of phytoplankton and therefore produce the most oxygenated water.
Effects on the Cryosphere
Phytoplankton and the Atmosphere
As we went over before, phytoplankton are the biggest consumers of carbon and producers of oxygen in all of the oceans. This directly ties in with the atmosphere because through a process known as diffusion, oxygen in the water is released into the atmosphere, and carbon in the atmosphere dissolves into out oceans' waters.
This impacts the composition of our atmosphere dramatically, leaving the perfect amount of carbon to warm our planet just enough. Without phytoplankton eliminating all that carbon, the atmosphere would trap a lot more of the heat from the sun, dramatically increasing the temperature of our planet as a hole, and leading to increasingly chaotic weather systems such as hurricanes.
Oxygen Production (Biosphere)
Although this directly affects the atmosphere, it's indirectly crucial to the biosphere. Phytoplankton make more than 50% of the oxygen in the whole world. All animals need oxygen to breathe, without any phytoplankton, our oxygen supply would only suffice for half of all animals alive today.
What do phytoplankton look like?
The term "phytoplankton" is used to describe a very wide range of organisms. Anything that is very small (almost microscopic), is a plant, and lives on the surface on the ocean can be considered a phytoplankton.
Phytoplankton highlight where ocean currents in the hydrosphere meet. When currents meet, so do the nutrients that they carry. Phytoplankton feast on these nutrients and create large formations that can be seen from space.
Phytoplankton are very small plant organisms that live on the surface of the ocean. They range in size, but for the most part are very very tiny. Despite their puny existence, together all the phytoplankton on our planet are responsible for around 50% of all oxygen production in our atmosphere. Climate change is endangering their way of life in many ways. Without these little buggers, all animal life on earth could encounter a sad and terrible end. Phytoplankton are treasures and need to be treated as such.
Phytoplankton are one of the biggest consumers of carbon, a greenhouse gas. Without them, global warming would melt off all the polar icecaps.
Our Treasured Phytoplankton are in serious Danger.
The worldwide population of marine phytoplankton has decreased 40% over the last 50 Years. Every year we lose around 1% of all of our treasured phytoplankton. What is worse is that with every year that passes the rate of their decline accelerates.
Who or what is to blame?
Scientists believe that climate change is warming the nutrient-depleted surface waters so much that it is difficult for them to ever mix with colder, nutrient rich, deep ocean waters. This prevents the cycle that brings phytoplankton the elements they need to thrive. Global warming is killing off its biggest rival.
Conclusion/ Evaluation of Value to Society.
Phytoplankton play a key role in many systems that maintain the health of our home planet and its biosphere. Their value to human society is unmeasurable, they are literally priceless because we could not live without them.
They are the corner stone of the diet of almost all marine life. Without them, we would have no whales, and no big fish in general, the fishing industry would be in ruins.
They are a key element in the carbon cycle. Without them, most animal life on our planet would perish, and that includes humans. As a species, we can not afford to maintain our current ecologically dismissive attitude and respective behavior. Phytoplankton can and do help reverse the effects of global warming. We need to do whatever we can to prevent further reductions in their numbers, because their extinction would be a problem unlike any our species has ever confronted.
How can we help?
Some have suggested fertilizing the non-mixing surface waters with the necessary nutrients for phytoplankton to thrive, but the uncertainty of what could happen if this strategy goes wrong, as well as the uncertainty of this strategy's efficiency make this an unlikely candidate to pursue.
The best and most certain way to stop their decline is to stop burning fossil fuels and releasing excess carbon into the atmosphere immediately. Of course... this will never happen and we will reach the tipping point before we realize how far down the rabbit hole goes.
There is too much money in oil, and the way our society works, money is really all that matters.
(My best advice is to take a trip to Sea World and take a couple pictures with Shamoo before killer whales go extinct, then move out of Florida before it sinks and buy lots of real estate at high altitudes in cold places, those will be the beaches of the future. Lots of money there, trust me.)