I haven’t blogged in a while, and just recently I had a sudden urge to express my feelings more clearly on the topic of what humans are doing to the Earth.
First off, as we all know, humans are cutting down forests to make way for cities and towns and roads. Every inch of forest, every tree that we destroy, lessens the number of plants that provide the oxygen we breathe as well as the clean water we drink. Not only that, but there are billions of animals living from the highest branch to the lowest root of those forests whose lives depend on the trees staying put.
We all harm the world. We all pollute. But some are way worse than others.
We are rapidly changing the environment by adding too much waste to it, such as the carbon dioxide that generators and cars release into the air. Although releasing waste is a natural and necessary process–after all, plants need carbon dioxide to live, and one of their waste products is oxygen, which we need to live–we are releasing too much carbon dioxide into the air for the plants to absorb all of it. There are fewer and fewer plants to use it when we are cutting down more of them, and the extra carbon dioxide collecting in our atmosphere is a major cause of global warming.
It’s easy for us to say ‘stop cutting down the forests and putting so much carbon dioxide in the air!’ But no, it’s much, much harder than that. It would mean we would have to stop driving cars and using electricity generated by fuel. We would have to find new ways to grow crops and house ourselves. It would be a very difficult thing to do as a society–maybe even impossible. Other forms of energy, such as wind energy, can generate electricity without emitting carbon dioxide.
Some people are trying to build cars that run on hydrogen and release water instead of carbon dioxide. Some are also trying to generate electricity by using the sun, wind, or ocean tides so that there are no carbon dioxide emissions at all.
We can each moderate our carbon dioxide emissions by walking or riding bikes instead of driving…and turning off lights and machines when we aren’t actually using them. But overall, we have a long, long way to go.
In the oceans, the motors of ships are drowning out the noises of sea life. This is a very big impact on the natural world underwater; marine life live in a world dominated by sound. However, human activities using loud devices such as motors are beginning to drown out the natural sound of the oceans. For marine life, this has resulted in deafness, stress, avoidance behaviors that diminish feeding possibilities, and even death. Relatively simple solutions exist to help stop this, but what is needed is political will.
Meanwhile, three major causes.
Sonar, the submarine detection system used by navies all over the world. To detect targets, naval warships generate extremely loud waves of sound that sweep the ocean. Military sonar is an enormous predator. When exposed, whales go silent, stop foraging, and abandon their habitat. Repeated exposure can harm entire populations of animals, and has led to mass whale strandings all over the place.
Shipping. At any given time, there are up to sixty thousand commercial ships traveling our seas…worldwide. Cavitation from propellers and the rumbling of engines reverberate through every corner of the sea. The incessant and increasing mixture of sounds will mask whales’ ability to hear and be heard, which is a punch to their hope of survival. Whales are using higher and higher pitched notes to locate each other above the din.
And then seismic. Here we go: to detect oil and gas deposits beneath the ocean floor, seismic airguns–the modern form of exploratory dynamite–is what the petrochemical industry uses. Ships tow arrays of these guns and discharge super-intense pulses of sound toward the sea floor. During seismic surveys, acoustic explosions continue for days or weeks on end. The blasts disrupt critical behavior and communication among whales and can have massive impacts on fish populations.
Oceans are among the earth’s most valuable natural resources, covering 70% of the planet. They govern the weather, clean the air, provide food for the world, and is home to millions. They are home to most of the life on earth, and yet we are bombarding it with pollution. However far from the coasts we may be, the ocean is the end point for most of the pollution we produce on land–all streams leading to rivers, all rivers to the sea. Carbon emissions, plastic, leaking oil, constant sonic noises…It’s estimated that by the end of this century, if we keep pace with our current emissions, the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150 percent more acidic than they are now. Trash, offshore drilling…whatever it is, our impact on the ocean is huge. Oil is killing off animals, we are hunting them, they are being tangled in nets and poisoned and the polluted waters from garbage are filtering into their gills.
Many times, people hunt to survive. But perhaps even more times, as of these days, it is for fun and sport.
I don’t want to fit everything into one post, because it took a lot of work just to put down what you’ve read so far, but here are some additional bits of information:
We’re losing soil.
We are driving dangerously. Too many cars, too many gases being emitted from them. And the roadkill…
Hyperconsumerism: the consumption of goods for non-functional purposes. Mobile phones have an average lifespan of one year. Cars and computers, a few years more. And then they are thrown away. The average US supermarket offers 50,000 products. In the UK we throw away millions of tonnes of food a year. Hyperconsumerism leads directly to pollution, deforestation, over-extraction of minerals, and the waste of natural resources.
Our population level is rising drastically. I’m not sure of any completely accurate rates, but it seems that we are currently in the 7-billions, maybe more.
So…here are some things you can do to reduce and prevent the rising levels of pollution: walking or riding more, driving less. Saving energy by turning off what you aren’t using; don’t-leave-the-TV-on and flick-the-switch-when-you-leave-the-room. Never pour chemicals or fertilizers down the drain, because they get washed into stormwater drains and into rivers and the ocean. Reuse items, recycle plastic…think about its uses before getting rid of it, and consider making something new out of something old.
Just as long as you’re trying to help. Thanks.