While we are focused on waging wars on each other, and the media continuously shows us every-day bombings, muggings, and people turning on each other, we are inherently ignorant about the condition of the planet we are living on. Our planet is dying, and there is no better way to put this across. We are close to the sixth great wave of extinction, and while the previous ones have been blamed on intense warming or cooling of the climate, or an asteroid impact, this is the first one that will be brought about by the very residents of the planet – humans.
Humans are the worst thing that could have happened to this planet. Research suggests that the Earth’s biodiversity is being eliminated at a rate that has not been seen in the last 65 million years. The rate at which the human population is reproducing and expanding is dangerously expediting consumption of resources, especially agriculture. This leads to destruction of habitats for farming and expanding of civilization. The burning of fossil fuels and toxic chemicals is quickly leading to the destruction of the climate and ecosystem. If you can’t seem to get our head around how screwed (excuse my language) we a really are, this should put things into perspective: the alarming rate at which the Earth’s biodiversity is dropping makes World War II look like a picnic.
Based on a WWF survey in 2014 worldwide vertebrae populations had dropped by 52% since 1970 with the primary causes being exploitation, habitat destruction, habitat loss, and climate change succeeding other natural causes. There is little we can do at this point to save the day, what is required of us is to actually halt population growth, end fossil fuel use and find a way to sustainably use the world’s resources. With the growing population and decreasing number of forests, we are increasing emissions of carbon dioxide leading to the warming of the climate. Nine of the warmest years on record have occurred in the last ten years themselves. The world is getting hotter and it has the potential to further change plant and animal behavior, change rainfall patters increasing droughts and raising sea levels. Without a healthy ecosystem we will have no freshwater or fresh air left to consume.
What we don’t realize as the thick-headed humans we are is that though we may consider ourselves to be the superior species, we can hardly survive without the rest of the ecosystem and species. What the Earth’s population consumes each year is what it would take one and a half planets to provide sustainably. This does not mean we need to live less lavishly, only less wastefully. Sadly, this is not happening as most of the world does not even perceive or acknowledge the doomed future their planet beholds.
The very least we can do is try not to waste energy and water at home. Small things like using a thermostat at home, leaving your car at home and car-pooling or using public transport, and printing on both sides of the paper make a big difference. There are very small things we all do, like leaving the lights or monitor on when we leave the room, which may not seem to contribute much, but at this point, every little thing counts. You may be able to afford it, but the planet cannot. Besides saving energy and water, make an effort not to pollute. No, I don’t mean throwing trash on the road (don’t do that either), but don’t create waste in the first place. Avoid using plastic bags and disposable utensils that further harm the atmosphere. Recycle and use recycled products. It might not seem like one person reducing their consumption will make much of a difference, but if every person on the planet puts in some effort, we could at least survive until we’ve found an alternative way to live sustainably.