Story 8. Carbo Is Released
Deep within a large cave Carbo had been sleeping peacefully for millions of years. At one time he had been part of a large dinosaur and had many fellow friends within that beast. Those friends, however, just resembled his looks and had no consciousness. When the Triceratops passed away of old age Carbo, who in that prehistoric time was an extraordinarily intelligent and sentient carbon atom, gradually got buried in the ground. Eventually after a few million years Carbo became part of billions of other carbon atoms, which were sleeping away in a coal deposit.
Around another 60 million years later Carbo was jostled out of his slumber. Thinking that he was having a bad dream, Carbo went back to sleep not knowing that a coal miner had dug him along with the rest of his friends out of that same large cave in the year 1870. After a few days poor Carbo felt a sharp, hot pain and was jostled back to life. He was being burned in the engine of a locomotive heading across the U.S. prairie westward towards the Rockies.
Suddenly Carbo found himself rising high in the air into the bright, blue sky. Carbo was finally released! His pain subsided quickly, and he felt a sense of freedom and euphoria. He was circulating through the air with fellow carbon molecules helping to warm good old planet Earth. For some unknown reason Carbo was more intelligent than his fellow carbon dioxide molecules and was already sentient. This time around Carbo was aware of staying in the air out of the way of surface plants, which would breathe him in and trap him again if they could. Carbo had disdain for plants since they split his brethren into carbon atoms, trapping carbon, and breathing out oxygen. Carbo had learned his lesson a long time ago during the Cretaceous period when he was inhaled by a fern and then trapped. Of course, that fern was eaten by the Triceratops.
During the first couple of decades after he was free to roam the atmosphere in the 1870’s and 1880’s Carbo noticed that there were more and more of his brethren being released by what he termed those silly animals called humans that had the habit of digging up coal and then burning the stuff. For some unknown reason only the prehistoric carbon molecules that were released had any sentience or intelligence at all. Carbon that was already part of the air before the Industrial Age had no life.
Carbo was actually quite thankful for human help and ever so subtly, at times, circulated around engineer’s brains so that they could find more coal deposits so that his friends could be released. Carbo was delighted to have billions of more friends to have and then lead if he could bring life to them just be releasing them from entrapment deep in the ground.
In the real world carbon molecules, by their nature, trap enough heat so that the planet does not freeze, and life can exist. Carbon dioxide is known by scientists to be one of the greenhouse gases that traps heat and prevents the planet from becoming an ice ball. There needs to be enough carbon molecules in the atmosphere to keep the climate just right for current life to exist on the Earth…but not too much, otherwise some species will begin to die off as the climate of the planet warms. The burning of fossil fuels since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s has caused levels of CO2 to steadily rise causing a threat to life as we know it exists on Earth today. Of course, there is no difference between carbon dioxide molecules that have been in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years and those that have been released by mankind’s efforts from the ground in the last couple of hundreds of years.
The text and artwork are copyright Guy Walton.
Artwork is by my friend, Alyssa Josue.