Think for a few moments
about the gift of air
Air by Jan van Kessel,,oil on copper, c. 1647
High in the atmosphere is a thin layer of ozone. So thin that if one were to collect all this gas and place at sea level pressure and at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it would be only enough to form a one-eighth inch-thick envelope around the earth (Calvin DeWitt, Earth-Wise, p. 15). This thin layer of ozone allows the warmth of the sun to reach the earth but filters out much of the sun’s harmful ultra-violet radiation—radiation which otherwise would break molecules apart, cause living tissue to be destroyed, and cause changes in DNA, the “language of life,” as someone has called it. Without that thin layer of ozone the earth would likely be a burned and lifeless piece of rock.
Up to six or seven miles above the earth, are the gases of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and others. Those gases, especially carbon dioxide, allow light and heat from the sun to reach the earth, but trap some of that heat which would otherwise be radiated out into space. Without those six miles of atmosphere, the earth would be a cold and lifeless piece of rock.
Bill McKibben reminds us that six or seven miles is not a great distance. If you took those six miles of atmosphere and laid it on its side, you could walk the distance in an hour and a half. It’s a twenty-five-minute bicycle ride. “Into that tight space and the layer of ozone just above it is all that is life and all that maintains life” (The End of Nature).
Does that give us a sense of how precious and how wonderful is the gift of air?
Keep enjoying breathing!!
See you in church,