All living beings are dependent on it
Our world is a beautiful place and it has sustained everything living on it for millions of years, Although our presence has done much damage to it, we still have a chance to change it. When we talk of the environment, it involves everything around us, not just weather. It includes all the animals, plants and human beings living on earth. The world population of 7.7 billion people represent just 0.01 per cent of all living beings. Yet since the dawn of civilization, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of all plants.
Over consumerism is killing the Earth
We have made consumption our way of life, but our consumer society is currently destroying the planet. Everything we buy has global consequences. To illustrate, a simple meal for one person required 800 litres of water, 1.3 litres of diesel, 0.3 grams of pesticides, 3.5 kilos of carbon dioxide, and 10 kilos of topsoil. By 2030, the Global Ecological Footprint is expected to reach 2, meaning that we will need the equivalent of two planet Earth to support our consumption of products and services
Experts widely agree that human activities are harming the global environment. Since the Industrial Revolution, the world economy has grown dramatically. Overall this is a success story since rising incomes have lifted millions of people out of poverty. But it has been fueled by population growth and increasing consumption of natural resources.
Our consumer society is running amok. The global population is growing by the second. We are turning Earth’s resources into waste faster and faster. Rising demand to meet the needs of more than 7 billion people has transformed land use and generated unprecedented levels of pollution, affecting biodiversity, forests, wetlands, water bodies, soils and air quality.
The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities. Most of the warming occurred in the past 40 years, with the seven most recent years being the warmest. The past decade was the hottest on record. The year 2020 was more than 1.2C hotter than the average year in the 19th Century. In Europe, it was the hottest year ever, while globally 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest. The exceptionally warm temperatures triggered the largest wildfires ever recorded in the US states of California and Colorado, and the “black summer” of fires in eastern Australia.
The threat of abrupt and irreversible climate change is growing. There is an increasing consensus that critical tipping points are approaching after which global warming will be impossible to stop. The loss of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets would cause sea levels to rise 10 meters. This could happen already in this century. At the same time, global energy use will continue to grow by about 27% between 2017 and 2040. If nothing changes, most of this increase will be covered by burning more coal.
The potential future effects of global climate change include more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions and an increase in the number, duration and intensity of tropical storms.
A Growing World Population
The world population will reach 8.5 billion by 2030 with almost 5 billion part of the consumer class. This will put even more pressure on Earth’s ecosystems. We have already used up more than a third of our natural resources. By 2030, the demands from 5.6 billion consumers will be draining the Earth for resources so fast that we need 2 planets to support us. And if everyone on the planet lives like western consumers, we would need 5 planets to support us.
A toxic planet
The global economy emits more than 250 billion tonnes of chemical substances a year, Many completely uncontrolled. And produces more than 400 million tons of hazardous chemical waste each year. Human-made chemicals have found their way into every single ecosystem on Earth causing scientists to label Earth “a toxic planet”.
The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 414 parts per million in the last 150 years.
Facts about Waste & Pollution
- Landfills are composed of 35% packaging materials
- By 2100, the global urban population will produce three times more waste than today
- Up to half of all food produced is lost or wasted before or after it reaches consumers
- The equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans every single minute. By 2030, it will be two truckloads per minute and by 2050, four
- The speed of groundwater pollution doubled between 1960 and 2000
- According to a 2018 article in Nature Magazine, the Great Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch stretches 1.6 million km2. That’s the size of Iran or over twice the size of Texas
- Mining is considered the world’s Number One Toxic Polluter. Steel production, for example, results in 80 tons of toxic wastewater for each ton of steel produced
Since 1990 the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest (690,000 square miles) – an area the size of Libya. Over the past three decades, the rate of deforestation has slowed but experts say it isn’t fast enough, given the vital role forests play in curbing global warming. In 2015-20 the annual deforestation rate was 10 million hectares (39,000 square miles, or about the size of Iceland), compared to 12 million hectares (46,000 square miles) in the previous five years.
An estimated 45% of all carbon on land is stored in trees and forest soil. “Soils globally contain more carbon than all plants and atmosphere put together,” says Waring. When forests are cut down or burned, the soil is disturbed and carbon dioxide is released.
Facts about Natural Resources & other living species
- According to NASA, the world’s rainforests will be gone by 2100 if the current rate of destruction continues.
- When you throw plastic bags and other plastic materials in the ocean, it kills as many as 1 million sea creatures annually
- An estimated 50,000 species inhabiting our tropical forests become extinct annually. That’s an average of 137 species a day
- By 2070, the world’s coral reefs could be gone altogether
- By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans
- If all life on Earth was put on a scale, the human population would only make up about one ten-thousandth of the total weight of life on Earth.
Industries of the Agricultural Sector
Modern agriculture is the driver of 80% of deforestation and 70% of freshwater use globally. The rainforest could be gone by 2100 and fish stocks completely collapsed by 2050
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30%. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the ocean. The ocean has absorbed between 20% and 30% of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions in recent decades (7.2 to 10.8 billion metric tons per year).
The top 100 meters (about 328 feet) of the ocean showing warming of more than 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.33 degrees Celsius) since 1969. Earth stores 90% of the extra energy in the ocean.
People & Poverty
Over 150 million children are working under dangerous or exploitative conditions. 40 million people work in conditions of slavery – more people than at any other time in human history. These men, women and children produce some of our everyday products. At the same time, more than 800 million people suffer from hunger.
Real change is needed. Not just from politicians and businesses – but from all of us. Without understanding the situation and without developing a deeper awareness about the lives we are living and the consequences it has, such changes are unlikely to occur. Today, more than ever, we need ideas, information and tools to help us live consciously.
- Human consumption of Earth’s natural resources more than tripled between 1970 and 2015. Our use of natural resources to continue growing and more than double from 2015 to 2050
- The consumer society is thirsty. Very thirsty. “There will be no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we’re doing today”, (Professor Benjamin Sovacool of Aarhus University, Denmark)
- 27,000 trees are cut down each day so we can have Toilet Paper
- Cotton production requires so much water that it emptied a whole sea (the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan). It has been called one of the worst environmental disasters in history
- We use 5 trillion plastic bags a year, that’s about 1,60,000 bags a second
- If current patterns continue. We will have emptied the world’s oceans for seafood by 2050.
- Nearly 80% of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted or in a state of collapse. Globally 90% of large predatory fish, such as sharks and tuna are gone.
With inputs from theworldcounts.com