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by Larry Schlussler PhD on November 20th, 2019

A rule of thumb based on the Arrhenius rate equation is that the reaction rate of chemical and biological reactions doubles each time the temperature increases 10 deg C. The Arrhenius rate equation quantifies this exponential rate of increase. As a consequence of the Arrhenius rate equation as the temperatures of the earth increases chemical and biological reaction rates will also increase exponentially. For a number of years I have built refrigerators for vaccine storage and have recently looked at how fast vaccines degrade as the temperature increases. If the storage temperatures increases only 2 deg C the rate the vaccines degrade increases by 30%. If vaccines are an indication of how fast other chemicals react to temperature increase, a 2 deg C increase in the earth’s temperature could have a significant effect on our ecosystem. The 2015 Paris climate agreement strove to keep the increase in the average earth’s temperature to below 2 deg C.

If the ambient temperature is constantly changing, reaction rates will proceed faster than the average temperature indicates. For example, if it is 20 deg C during the day and 10 deg C at night the average temperature is 15 deg C, however, chemical reactions will proceed at the rate they would in a constant 16 deg C environment. This is significant because daily and yearly temperature swings can increase the reaction rates even faster than the average temperature indicates. There is a weighted temperature average called MKT (mean kinetic temperature) this average temperature can be used to calculate reaction rates when temperatures vary. In the above example the MKT temperature would be 16 deg C In Mongolia it is projected that summers will be hotter and winters colder. Even if the average yearly temperature remains the same the MKT temperature will increase and so will reaction rates. One possible consequence of the temperature increase is that biological activity in topsoil will increase resulting in the oxidation of more organic matter and loss of top soil.. There are of course a number of other ways temperature increase could effect the environment.

I have not been able to determine if models for global climate change take the phenomena described into account. Any feedback on this point would be appreciated.

Larry Schlussler, PhD
Sun Frost

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