Friday, 14 August 2015

Do you have plans for the future? You may need to reconsider them.

The Earth is our greatest asset. We are guests on this planet, using her resources for everything we do. We use land for growing crops, farming animals, building houses and for our own enjoyment. Taking long walks through a cool forest or watching small children laughing and splashing about in a river while enjoying the sound of birds singing and small fish swimming past.

Now imagine waking up one morning and all the forests have been cut down. Tall buildings surround you and the air is no longer fresh, but instead burns the back of your throat slightly. It is raining again; the sky is grey with heavy clouds which are closing in. The floods in your city are no longer a threat, but a constant reality.  Fields are drowning in water, the pipes are overflowing and sewage and rainwater have merged into one. However, the TV screens on every corner remind you that on the other side of the world people are starving, suffering from the worst drought on record. People are struggling to find any water to grow crops, but your claustrophobic city is drowning in water. The people are drowning. The darkness is swallowing people up and positivity is a distant memory. Children can no longer play in rivers or in the sea because it is no longer a dark navy blue with stepping stones scattered here and there. Instead the water is a dark brown/ red colour. It has a faint smell of metal and if the water makes contact with your skin, it will cause a tingling and burning sensation. No fish live here. It is too acidic. The birds cannot drink from the water and only weeds and other weird plants can grow in these conditions.

This may sound like a story. In the present day it is to a certain degree. But in 50 or 60 years it will no longer be a story. Instead it will be a reality we face if we don’t fundamentally change the way we live on this planet. This planet, not our planet. The Earth can survive without use. If the human race were to become extinct tomorrow the Earth would still make one full turn every 365.25 days, the sun would still glow in the day and the moon would still light up the night sky. Animals would inhabit our large cities and plants would slowly take over the world. Chernobyl is a perfect example. After the catastrophic nuclear disaster on 26 April 1986, the city was evacuated and to date, 350,000 people have been relocated. Now, Chernobyl is deserted. Only scientists in their huge white astronaut like suits are allowed to enter with their Geiger readers, ticking over and over. Vegetation has now overgrown, unchecked. Birds, foxes and wolves roam the once busy streets enjoying the peace and quiet.

The world goes on. We are at the top of the food chain. The most developed. The most evolved creatures. We are also the most disposable. We rely on animals, plants and the climate to build our ecosystem. They do not rely on us. We are the biggest parasite in existence on Earth.

The average world temperature has climbed 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880 and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that the 10 out of the past 12 years have been the hottest on record since 1850[1]. If greenhouse gases continue to be released unabated, research predicts the Arctic will experience its first ice free summer in 2040[2]. Polar bears and indigenous people will lose their habitat and they are already suffering. The global sea level rose about 17 centimetres (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century[3]. Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa[4] and ocean acidification is becoming a serious problem. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent.[5] This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.[6] All these changes in our climate will have huge consequences on animal and plant habitats and will impact our lives on a daily basis. Extreme heat will impact health, energy and agriculture. Sea level rises will increase flooding and soil erosion which will pose a risk to infrastructure, especially in countries where infrastructure is poor. Diseases such as malaria will no longer be an African and Asian problem. Mosquitoes survive in the heat and will fly throughout the world, spreading malaria as they go.



These are just a few of the thousands of threats we will face if something isn’t done immediately to combat and contain climate change. Everything in our world is connected through our planet. Mother nature always has a way of correcting mistakes and if we are complacent and continue to be egotistical and arrogant towards our environment, something unimaginable and uncontrollable will happen.

Personally, I want to live in a world were there is harmony between the people and the planet. To bore you with details about what we can do to save the planet seems almost condescending on my part. Information such as reduce, reuse, recycle has been advertised to the public countless times and the recycle symbol is on nearly all packaging nowadays. The information is there whether it is on the news, in magazines or on the Internet. I invite everyone to make a small change in their life such as reducing the amount of meat they eat a week, or walking into town or taking public transport. The ‘one person cannot make a change’ mentality will get us nowhere. We need to work together as one united race to change the course of our future. 

By Natasha Middleton

Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

[1] . Allison et.al., The Copenhagen Diagnosis: Updating the World on the Latest Climate Science, UNSW Climate Change Research Center, Sydney, Australia, 2009, 11
[3] Church, J. A. and N.J. White (2006), A 20th century acceleration in global sea level rise, Geophysical Research Letters, 33,
[4] National Snow and Ice Data Centre, World Glacier Monitoring Service
[5] http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean+Acidification
[6] C. L. Sabine et.al., “The Oceanic Sink for Anthropogenic CO2,” Science vol. 305 (16 July 2004), 367-371

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