This is George
This episode of the Green Ninja Show is about the relationship between humans and plants and how this relationship affects the planet. Humans and plants appear very different at first glance, but from this episode we will learn that plants and humans have some things in common and the interaction between them is an essential part of everyday life on Earth.
One of the main characters in this episode is a sunflower. Sunflowers are plants. Plants are living organisms that get their energy from the Sun and use water and carbon dioxide to grow through a process called photosynthesis.
The process of photosynthesis takes in carbon dioxide from the air through small pore-like holes all over the plant called stomata. Plants take in water from the soil using their roots and they absorb sunlight in tiny organelles (like tiny organs for individual cells) called chloroplasts. By combining carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight, plants can create the energy they need. Then they release oxygen which is left over after photosynthesis is completed. Learn more about photosynthesis from this article by Colorado State University.
When a plant dies it decomposes into the dirt, leaving nutrients to enrich the soil which helps other plants grow. When a plant decomposes, it leaves all the carbon it absorbed over its lifespan (from taking in carbon dioxide every day) to be buried in the ground, or released back into the atmosphere. If plant material gets buried and stays there for a long time (millions of years), the plant fossils change into a fossil fuel like coal, oil or natural gas.
Coal has been mined by humans for hundreds of years. Humans mine for coal because it is combustible (combustible means it can be ignited and/or burned). Most rocks are not combustible, but coal is special because it comes from organic matter (i.e. living things). Humans burn coal to create electricity. Large amounts of coal are gathered in one place and brought to a power plant. At the power plant, the coal is put into very hot furnaces where the coal burns. Above the furnaces, there are pipes full of water. The heat from the burning coal heats up the water past its boiling point (212°F / 100°C). The water boils and expands, turning into hot water vapor (also called steam). The steam turns a turbine which is connected to a generator that turns to create electricity.
When fossil fuels like coal, oil, or natural gas are burned, carbon is released into the air in the form of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere, trapping more of the Sun’s heat which causes the global temperature to change. As humans have started using fossil fuels more and more, the carbon levels in the atmosphere have grown at an accelerating rate.
The story describes how George uses electricity, just like many other people, and that although this is not a bad thing, it does contribute to our warming planet since the electricity comes from burning coal. This is not George’s fault because he does not own or control the power plant, but it is up to George to act on what he knows in order to reduce the amount of carbon being released into the atmosphere. George in this story represents all of us, and once George understands his connection to the changing climate, it is up to him to make changes. The movie is optimistic that if changes can be made to significantly reduce carbon emissions, then life on this planet can be pleasant for everyone.
The Green Ninja Show
Director: Dave Chai
Producer: Maaike Scherff
Editor: Keith Silva
Green Ninja intro created by: Mark Wanninger & Michael Salmassian
A Special Thanks to: All the great people who worked on This is George