So much of the planet has been stripped of its natural vegetation, the once excellent mechanism of air conditioning has been greatly reduced.
For centuries the colonizing of our planet with the ever expanding development of residential and business spaces was not a problem. However our numbers have greatly increased and we have paid relatively little attention to the repercussions of the development process. Many of the methods we have used for energy production and land use have been poorly integrated with the needs of maintaining a balanced environment. With the increase in our numbers, related increases in energy demands and waste that cannot or isn’t recycled, the planet’s ability to naturally balance itself is being strained.
The problem is not always apparent to all but it is beginning to be felt. Around our beautiful home planet it seems clear that the temperatures are changing which is resulting in the gradual rise of water levels. As the average heat level of the planet increases, the ice at the northern most and southern most parts of the planet is melting. This has happened before. There is a cycle to everything and this melting is part of the replenishment and balancing of the planets’ environment. There have been extinction events in the past where the existing population of the planet was mostly eliminated as balance was restored by the Earth. But here is our challenge; we are possibly the first Earth population that has the ability to restore the balance without suffering an extinction event. We may have the resources and the knowledge to heal the damage our haphazard population growth and careless infrastructure development has caused.
When we were granted dominion over this planet as a species, eons ago, it gave us the ability to shape the future in many ways. While the other creatures sharing the planet with us would simply adapt to changing conditions, we had the ability to use tools and develop technology that could provide us with ever expanding diversity and opportunity. What individuals are able to do and accomplish in a lifetime has been multiplied many times over. This has not always resulted in more satisfying lives but that is a different issue. It is directly related to the issue of dominion over the planet though. If we do not do a better job of keeping the planet in balance the general level of life satisfaction will begin to drop rapidly. When Nature is out of balance all living creatures will begin to feel distress. For humans it will likely result in social unrest and the increase of disease. As climate change begins to disrupt food supply many will suffer. As CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase, it will affect all animals relying on clean oxygenated air for survival. The more dramatic result will be that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) increases will result in the heating of the atmosphere. When the earth’s temperature increases, it emits infrared rays which have longer wavelengths, and therefore they cannot escape the earth’s atmosphere. Hence, the heat gets trapped which causes the heating known as the greenhouse effect.
When the Earth was a BIG place because we were little groups spread all over its surface, each little group was mostly a self sufficient unit. Each group developed its own habits and social organization. Darwin’s idea of survival of the fittest was really the ruling principal as in the rest of the animal kingdom. As we evolved and became more powerful resulting from higher levels of consciousness and brain power, physical strength was relegated to the domain of entertainment and games. While some little groups have stayed somewhat isolated and have attempted to maintain their independence and autonomy in the world, even that is likely to soon pass. The world has been linked with an omnipresent communications network that ties us all together. We are also shrinking the boundaries between our different groups as we gobble up more space. With our increased size and the ever increasing demands on the infrastructure technology has created, the pressure has begun to throw things out of balance.
Foolishly some of those who are supposed to be overseeing our “dominion” over this planet choose to deny any responsibility. Possibly figuring dangerous times are far off, they do not want to bother to work on implementing changes that can help keep the system in balance. As far as we know, before previous extinction episodes, the resident populations of the planet had little or no ability to do anything. We, on the other hand, have become reasonably sophisticated in our understanding of how the planets’ eco system works. We actually know what can be done to restore balance. Obviously if we wait until disaster is evident – like currently inhabited islands and places like Florida and all of the low lying coastal areas gradually being engulfed by water – it will be more difficult and take much longer to fix – if it is even possible at that point.
So what can be done?
Here are a few ideas that would be minimally disruptive, would help decrease the negative impact of our societies, and would gradually improve quality of life while restoring balance. Some are technological but many are things that just require a change in priorities. The biggest challenge is that to assure our success, we must work together. We must recognize that we are all one human species on this planet and that what any one of us does affects all of the others.
First and foremost we must grow up as a species and recognize that if we are to survive, we must work together. This does not require that anyone totally change the way the live or what they do in pursuit of happiness. It will require a change in priorities. For example, just because there are still a lot of fossil fuels left to make money selling, it does not mean we should keep doing it. Of course if there is money to be made, we have proven we will kill ourselves – or come close to it – before we will pass on being in it for the money.
What do we need to do? There is a wonderful possibility called a “carbon tax”.
What’s a carbon tax? A carbon tax is a fee imposed on the burning of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas). More to the point: a carbon tax is a great way to reduce the profits from selling fossil fuels and their cost effectiveness. Carbon chemistry is simple. The amount of CO2 released in burning any fossil fuel is strictly proportional to the fuel’s carbon content. This allows the “carbon tax” to be charged directly to those currently profiting from the extraction and distribution of these materials. Yes, those profit hungry manufacturers will probably pass most of the cost along to consumers but this will make other less toxic renewable energy sources more attractive and price competitive. As they grown in popularity, their costs will decrease as production becomes more efficient. But here’s the best part – during the transition we will have a lot of carbon tax dollars that can be put to use creating solutions to the real problems. Some can be used for development of the renewable technologies replacing the need for fossil fuels but we can do more than prevent further damage we can begin some repair work.
Mother Nature had this entire situation well managed until we began to upset the apple cart. There are some of our species that still take their role as caretakers of the planet seriously. They tend to be the indigenous populations that have been caretakers of different areas for hundreds of years. In the United States, our Native American population lived in harmony with the land until they were aggressively pushed out of the way as “civilization” devoured everything in its path for “development”. Whether it was gold or oil that they could extract from the land for profit they cared nothing for the current residents of the land and chose to deem them lesser humans because they had no interest in “going with the times”. They stood in the way of profit and progress. This of course was still Darwin’s survival of the fittest model in play. The size and resilience of the Earth allowed us to get away with our lack of compassion and arrogant treatment of other living things. That time is ending.
The Amazon Rainforest has rightly been called the lungs of the planet. There happen to be isolated tribes of humans who have been living in this forest and caring for it for untold numbers of years. Like the Native Americans and other indigenous people they have become a bother to the colonists and imperialists. Each year civilization encroaches more on the tropical rainforests as these people are forced deeper into the forest. That is wrong because it is their land. More important though is the importance of the forest to the health of the planet. When civilization is chopping away at the rainforest it is like someone continuously going for another cigarette. We know it will likely kill us but that could be years away and we are addicted to the status quo.
Here’s the idea. Take a big bunch of those carbon tax dollars and invest them in reclaiming vibrancy of the forest by planting rather than cutting down trees. Since it is all about money, pay off the hungry industrialists who want to put the land to financial use with development. Make it more profitable to them to leave the land alone and return much of it to its original condition. In this way we can slow global warming, reduce CO2 and replace it with fresh oxygenated air. It’s how things are supposed to work – it is called photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants and certain other organisms transform light energy into their food. A byproduct of that food production is oxygen. What an amazing process and just what we need more of – carbon dioxide in, oxygen out. The Rainforest is a massive climate control engine and we are doing far too little to help those indigenous tribes to protect and nurture it.
Let’s use lots of those carbon tax dollars to pay off the land pirates and reclaim the forest.
Let’s do the same thing all over the planet. Secure existing forest lands and buy more. The carbon tax dollars can go to existing organizations like The Rainforest Foundation, The Rainforest Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Foundation, and The World Rainforest Fund. They are already in place and know what they are doing. Think of what millions of dollars flowing in from carbon taxes could do to help their efforts. And, yes we need some government participation and that could probably best be done by the United Nations. This would be a project where if they really could be “united nations” as a world government organization they could finally have a real positive influence on the planet as a whole.
Take a portion of those carbon tax dollars and invest them in training to make it possible for all the fossil fuel workers to transition into new jobs in renewable energy. As the engines of industry get revved up, think of how much money is going to be made retrofitting existing equipment to use new fuel sources and building brand new equipment. Think of all the jobs involved in selling, installing and servicing solar panels and who knows what other renewable energy technology we develop. People married to the old ways will die a slow death but those who embrace the opportunities will thrive.
This is a good story and it is within our power to make it come to pass.
We can have ever greater reductions in CO2 in the atmosphere, gradual cooling of the environment, millions of new jobs in energy, manufacturing, land and forest care, and what may come out of as yet unimagined new industries. The age of survival of the fittest will finally come to an end as humanity grows up to accepting its role as the caretaker of this planet and all the life forms inhabiting it. We will accept that we are all in this together and that together we triumph, divided we fall. We can welcome in a new age or wait for the extinction event, the choice is ours.
You can help right now! Below you will find three well established organizations that you can support and promote. Make a donation. Share their websites in social media posts. Also exert some political power and let your representatives know creating a new energy system and restoring the balance in our environment should be the top priority. Our survival on this planet is at stake.
Rainforest Foundation US
- Founded: 1989
- Founder: Sting
- Chairman: John W. Copeland
- Founded: 1987
- Headquarters: New York, NY
- President: Prof Tensie Whelan
- Founder: Daniel Katz
- Subsidiary: UTZ Certified
Protecting the Lands and Waters on Which All Life Depends
The science is clear: our planet is at a critical crossroads. As a rapidly growing global population puts more demand on food, water and energy around the world, the need for innovative conservation solutions has never been more urgent. We CAN still change course. But it’s up to those of us who care about creating a healthier, more sustainable future to take action now.
Today, only 5 percent of the natural lands around the globe at risk for development are protected. That means so many of our planet’s incredible landscapes could be stripped by mines or striped by highways at any moment. As more habitat is lost, more species are facing extinction. Tragically, 60 percent of the world’s wildlife has been lost in the last 45 years.
The effects of a changing climate only compound these threats to our lands and waters. The last 3 years have been the hottest on record and the problem is only going to intensify, putting immense pressure on the places we live and the natural resources we rely on.
Tackling the biggest environmental challenges is going to take bold action, smart science, and collaboration on a massive scale. And as the world’s leading conservation organization, The Nature Conservancy is uniquely qualified to do just that.
For more than 65 years, The Nature Conservancy has pushed the boundaries of conservation to ensure nature and people can thrive. Our supporters have helped us protect more than 119 million acres of land, countless miles of rivers and streams, and our vital oceans — and we are working to protect more nature in the next 10 years than we have in our history. We are using our scientific expertise to find innovative solutions that can halt the catastrophic march of climate change. And we are partnering with communities, governments, farmers, and industry leaders around the world to help secure healthy food and clean water for all people without sacrificing the environment.
Together with our members, we can protect the natural world we rely on today—and put us on the path to a more hopeful, sustainable future.