Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Homeostasis

Don't let the title fool you, this post may be interesting.

I study homeostasis alot as it pertains to the human body. Our bodies run at a certain pH, with certain amounts of stuff in the blood at all times. We can tell alot about a person by what is in their blood, or more accurately, what is in the blood in unusually high or low amounts. Your body goes through considerable efforts to maintain concentrations at certain levels, and if we find that you aren't within those normal ranges, somthing is wrong. Glucose (sugar), for example is well maintained by the body in a fairly tight range. Every time we eat, we add a bunch of glucose to the system and the body is able to take care of it within a couple of hours. However, if we abuse the system and keep giving the body more than it can handle, it has to take drastic measures to maintain blood glucose in "healthy" levels. If the cells have too much fuel, but we keep pumping more fuel into the system, the cells say that they've had enough by resisting the action of insulin. So now the sugar in the blood can't get into cells as easily creating higher blood sugar levels. This is called insulin resistance and is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Diabetes (from now on when I talk about diabetes, I'm talking about type 2; type 1 is a different ballgame) is a disease caused by over-consumption. It takes considerable overconsumption for an extended period of time before the body is no longer able to maintain blood glucose homeostasis, and a person is diagnosed with diabetes. (Diabetes is reversable with diet and exercise, but it takes a lot of work).

Last night in my readings, I learned that the earth also has mechanisms to maintain homeostasis (this is not my area of expertise, but I'm going to try and tackle it). I read that the earth's exposure to the sun has increased by 30% since the world began... Well that explains gloabal warming. Except it doesn't. As sun exposure on the earth has been increasing, plants have been better able to undergo photosynthesis (the process of using carbon dioxide for energy with oxygen as a byproduct) thereby decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide acting as a greenhouse gas to keep the planet warm. How cool is that? As the temperature rises, plants thrive and decrease the greenhouse effect and as temperatures cool, plants are less able to use carbon dioxide, increasing the greenhouse effect to help maintain the homeostasis of the temperature on earth. That was working really well for a long time, until we decided to start pumping extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through industry and automobiles. Oh, and at the same time we decided to cut down forests because we need to make wood products like paper, houses, furniture, etc. Oh and some of the forests got in the way of farmland, so we cut them down too. We have increased CO2 through industry, but decreased the earth's ability to get rid of CO2 by cutting down forests.

Now I'm not going to jump into any research about global warming, because I'm not familiar with it. It looks to me that wether global warming has started or not, the earth is becoming "insulin resistant", except with CO2 instead of glucose. If we continue to abuse the earth, it will eventually be unable to maintain homeostasis and that won't be good.

In the Bible, a rich man asked Jesus what he needed to do to obtain eternal life, and Jesus responded that he needed to leave all that he had and follow Jesus (or something to that effect). Wow, evidently God wasn't kidding when he gave us that scripture. Are the consequences of not giving up comfort to follow Jesus certain death? Spiritually, maybe. Physically, it's sort of looking that way. As obesity and diabetes reach epidemic levels, it appears as if more and more people are killing themselves with excess. As a society we are producing more and more CO2 and decreasing the earth's ability to convert CO2 back to oxygen which, if continued indefinitely, will lead to the end of the world. I'm not trying to say the world will end anytime soon, I have great confidence in the human body's and the earth's ability to take abuse for a long time, as well as a conviction that Jesus will return and make things better. I just find it interesting that God created the earth such that if we are not charitable, if we continue to be greedy seek for "more", and if we continue to overconsume, it will lead to the death of individuals, and eventually the death of the earth.

2 comments:

Emily said...

Yep. It is upon us...this greed and such. And we are abusing our enviroment. The earth will live out its purpose...and eventually be clean again...but I think you and I both know the cost it must pay before hand.

Interesting thoughts! Keep em' coming!

Wife said...

Well said, my love.