When a question like “What acts as the lungs of the earth?” is asked, almost always the answer is “plants and forests”. However, our Earth is 70% water, and forests do not count for even 10%. Yet many people still have the common perception that forests and plants produce all of the oxygen we need. But there is a group of living organisms far more effective than forests in cleaning the atmosphere. These invisible organisms are phytoplankton.
The basic nutrients of very many beings that live under the sea are plankton, which are divided into two groups, plant and animal. A decrease in the number of plankton poses a danger for many creatures, from whales to small sea animals. The importance of these microscopic beings is not limited to this; Especially plant plankton has an important role in maintaining various ecological balances on Earth.
Phytoplankton are plant plankton, and they are basically composed of single-celled microscopic organisms that drifts with the sea currents. These organisms generally live on ocean surfaces, but they can also be found in lakes, puddles, rivers and streams. These beings, which have changing sizes between 0.002 to 1 millimeter and are green colored due to the chlorophyll they contain, cannot be seen with the naked eye. Phytoplankton that multiply in cold waters close to the polar regions spread to the oceans from there and complete very important tasks that Almighty Allah commands them to do.
Phytoplankton Supply For the Oxygen Needs of the Earth
All living beings need energy to maintain their lives, and to grow and develop. As it is known, living beings’ need of energy is provided by the Sun. The energy coming from the Sun turns into chemical energy, thanks to the chlorophyll cells in the plants, and organic matter forms out of inorganic matter. Other beings supply their food and energy needs by eating plants. This process carried out by plants is called photosynthesis. Phytoplankton does this process, done by plants on land, by the chlorophyll pigments in the oceans. These micro- beings emit carbon dioxide into the air during photosynthesis and thus contribute more than 80% of the oxygen we need to the atmosphere. Phytoplankton, with their limited life span of one or two days, and that we cannot see without the help of a microscope, produce more than the oxygen produced by plants and trees, and constitute the basic source of oxygen for the Earth.
There is no doubt that Almighty Allah, Lord of the worlds, is the One Who created this detailed and flawless system that enables us to maintain our life.
“And in the alternation of night and day and the provision Allah sends down from the sky,bringing the earth to life by it after it has died,and the varying direction of the winds, there are Signs for people who use their intellect..” (Surat al-Jathiya, 5)
Phytoplankton Are Responsible For Protecting the Level of Carbon
Carbon is emitted by the phytoplankton in the oceans at the rate of over two billion tons per year. Plants use lighter gasses called “Carbon 12”; and despite “Carbon 13” gas being accumulated in the atmosphere, the oceans aren't selective about carbon gas; therefore the ratio of carbon dioxide dissolved in sea water via photosynthesis has an important role in cleaning the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is dissolved very easily in cold ocean waters, and marine plants have an important contribution to cleaning the atmosphere by feeding on dissolved carbon. As it is known, carbon dioxide is responsible for 50% of the greenhouse effect alone. Phytoplankton thus has an important contribution in controlling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and therefore the overall level of greenhouse effect. Almighty Allah creates the number of these beings in large quantities so as to balance the carbon level in the atmosphere.
Our Lord revealed the superiority in His Creation in one verse of the Qur’an:
“…Allah always achieves His aim.Allah has appointed a measure for all things.” (Surat at-Talaq, 3) 3)