“What have they done to the earth? What have they done to our fair sister? Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her. Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn. And tied her with fences and dragged her down” ~ Jim Morrison
Earths resources are being wantonly destroyed due to human greed, ignorance, cruelty and sheer recklessness. Our demands around energy, food production and agriculture are destroying surface vegetation, degrading soil structure and fertility and impeding water filtration.
Our impact on the planet has been so profound that biodiversity (the variety of life on earth), forests, earth, water, air, animals, plants, fungi, micro-organisms, are being consumed faster than nature can replenish them. And due to the speed of our impact and the global scale of our activities on Earths resources over the last 250 years, we have inexorably changed the chemistry of the oceans and the character of our soils and the atmosphere; we now face a worrying scarcity of critical resources.
Human activity has degraded, and continues to degrade the environment.
Mining, damming, agriculture, industrialisation, deforestation and so-called development have lead to air and water pollution, elevated carbon dioxide levels and reduced biodiversity. Local ecosystems and the biosphere have been diminished, i.e. human interference has caused the depletion of many natural resources.
Mining - Metals, bauxite and other minerals which co-exist in earth are vital to the well-being of Earth itself. Mining causes permanent and irrecoverable damage to the environment. Mining not only lays bare the land, but makes this land uninhabitable due to the excavation, quarrying and obliteration of precious bio-diverse lands and forests! Mining-waste - dust and atmospheric pollution generated infiltrates and makes its way into water and air and annihilates and drives away animals and plants, birds and bees in a wide area surrounding it. This destruction produces a profound and lasting affect not only on the local ecology, but also on our health and safety.
Water – Fresh water in rivers and lakes is under threat - from dumped industrial and chemical wastes, untreated sewage, fertilisers, medicinal and chemical residues, sediment and toxin-laden run-off. Oceans are now devoid of over 95% of its larger predatory fish, due to over fishing. Coral reefs are degrading almost everywhere due to warming and acidifying seas. Discarded plastic ends up killing and sickening marine life.
Dams - Large Hydroelectric dams not only endanger crops, but also, by immersing fertile riverbank land and surrounding pasture and forest land for the catchment’s basin area, fertile lands, once teeming with life and biodiversity, turn saline over a period of time. The dams themselves, after all the time taken to construct them, and the damage done to the biodiversity and people of the area, become unproductive due to siltation in a short period of time! Dams also dry out river zones that are essential for the survival of people of the area that depend on farming, fishing, gathering fruits, and raising cattle - their traditional means of sustenance. Large dams displace people, rivers, forests and pasture-lands which are the natural wealth of our planet.
Biodiversity which is critical for the survival of the ecosystem is slowly being bled to death. Human activity within the last century has rapidly diminished the diversity of life forms and many species are faced with extinction. Habitat loss due to deforestation and human development has long posed a threat to our Earth.
Food production - comes with a hefty carbon footprint due to damage caused by deforestation and the use of fertilizers and pesticides which pollute our land and water. On top of that, the increased demand for food has given scientists the excuse to try out dangerous experiments; manipulating plant DNA to produce disease resistant crops. GMO (genetically modified organisms), are generally not a good idea, as GMO crop growing and food products pose serious threats to the environment and biodiversity, and when consumed, to animal and human health.
Energy – Fossil fuels are the cause of environmental problems. Yet for our short term requirements of energy, we’re destroying our planet, turning it un-inhabitable, hostile and not-fit-for-human survival. We have to face up to the environmental problem of cleaning up or replacing the burning of fossil fuels that we have been using since the Industrial revolution in the 18th century, with renewable resources, and by developing and adopting clean and renewable energy.
Waste - Modern environmental threats due to technological advancement are, electronic products such as computers, laptops, television sets and mobile phones that are discarded resulting in the release of hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, heavy metals and many other toxic substances into the environment. Besides these, the use of man-made pesticides, herbicides and fungicides can consequently kill, harm and damage our ecosystem, our health and our well-being.
Nuclear waste: There are 31 countries with nuclear reactors. Consequently, there are 31 countries in danger of lethal and irreversible danger due to radiation and radioactivity and its continuing impact on health, water and the environment, during and after production of Nuclear energy - from the mining of uranium > to its transportation > to its use during the process of production > waste during production > transportation > and storage of nuclear waste.
Climate change is real, and it is influenced by human activities. Humanity has released ample greenhouse gases into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution in the 18th century, and even more over the last 40 years. Due to compromised environment, we are now starting to feel the effects on our ecosystem. Climate change is becoming more and more obvious in an inevitably warmer world, where there are more frequent ‘extreme’ weather conditions, more floods, more droughts, more cyclones, more hurricanes, heavier rainfall over short periods, less rainfall over longer periods, rising seas, more wildfires, reconfigurations of coastlines, and many more changes of the things that are not in our control than we can imagine.
Consumption - A four-year analysis of the world's ecosystems sponsored by the Worldwatch Institute found that over-consumption has pushed 15 out of 24 ecosystems essential to human life "beyond their sustainable limits". Our insatiable desire for more is moving the planet toward a state of collapse that may be "abrupt and potentially irreversible". John James
Corporatisation – Throughout the world, Corporations buy politicians and keep them safely in their pockets. Large corporations are relentlessly taking over and dictating terms to governments of many states and countries on our planet, naturally, for their own self interest and profit.
Large Corporations take control of mining, petroleum/fossil fuel exploration, retailing, energy, housing and agriculture by taking over fertilisers, pesticides and through the control and industrialisation of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms). They keep governments in servitude while they get access to our hard earned money and taxes and gamble away our futures. They increase their empires and their profits at public expense without public knowledge. And then they rape and plunder our environment and drive us towards catastrophic climate change and global warming.
Development – Development and ‘corporatisation’ are tied together. The word or idea of ‘Development’, as peddled by politicians is ‘loaded’. Because to politicians, ‘development’ always means, the development of large corporations; industrialists, manufacturers, builders and developers, who build and develop large projects and manufacture products, and commodities.
This idea of development, ostensibly for the benefit of the common people, benefits the already rich and the privileged; it benefits city-dwelling, high-salary employees, industrialists and businessmen, but it does not benefit the vast majority of people who need all the help that they can get, just to survive.
Development works best when it is bottom up. But, it is more lucrative and easy for politicians and economic thinkers to think of top-down development
What should do we do to make amends?
. We must practice harmony, co-existence and mindfulness with intelligence and with a generous spirit. We are nature’s companion and not its boss. We are dependent on nature. Nature is not dependent on us.
. Our companionship and co-dependence with nature is important for our continuing co-evolution and co-existence. Humans are just passers by, a fleeting transitory part of Earth - sharing Earth’s generosity for a short while! Earth, will adapt to changes and evolve with, or without us and continue much after humans cease to exist.
. Strip ourselves of the mindset that we have a special position and therefore, special rights to dominate and exploit earth and comprehend deep within our minds that we do not have any right to manipulate and control nature.
. Be conscious of our responsibility to give back to nature in equal measure whatever we take from it.
Our survival strategy –Embrace reciprocal altruism, compassion and ahimsa – non-harm.
Pratap Antony, Passive activist/Active pacifist writer on ecology and environment, compassion and humanity, dogs, social justice, music and dance.