In the time that it has taken you to read this sentence, you have fallen through an eternal expanse of stars at approximately 460 metres a second. Clinging to a green and blue ball of rock awash in this endless sea, one could easily be forgiven for feeling very small and insignificant next to the enormity of existence. But despite the seemingly unyielding permanence of it all, our place within the cosmic scheme has never been under greater threat. In our ever ambitious bid to become the masters of the world around us, our dependence on plundering the riches of the planet has in fact done the opposite and made us slaves to its bounty, addicts who are incapable of sating our desire for resources that once consumed are never coming back. Whilst political bodies across the world have all too slowly come to realise this and come to various agreements to reverse the damage wreaked on the environment, the wheels of industry all too often have no such conscience. DEFORESTATION Take the rainforests of Asia and South America for instance. Applying industrial scale methods, companies around the world have turned their attention to Earth’s largest expanses of greenery. Loggers, farmers, land developers- too many of each fail to see that the rainforests themselves are of more value in their natural state than as land to be built on. Each year on average, approximately 46-58 thousand square miles of forest is consumed. Not only does this compromise the habitat of the local wildlife, but gone is another source of valuable natural extracts. These help to make up the medicines that we take for granted every day, from cough medicine to aspirin. You might be able to afford the priciest champagne through cutting down the rainforest, but how worth it will it be when there’s no more hangover cures the next day? Indeed, such short-sighted thinking has already had a devastating effect on the human population close by. Time and again, the large scale removal of vegetation has left local residents at the mercy of torrential rains that once would have been soaked up by the roots that have now been uprooted. The resulting mudslides have struck all around the major proponents of deforestation, an unavoidable side effect inflicted usually on those who have nothing to with it. As a result, more and more commercial enterprises have made the sensible decision to work with nature rather than against it. Instead of hacking the jungle down to build hotels or theme parks, environmentally aware tourist companies are offering programmes that work in harmony with the surroundings. Who wants to visit a farm when compared to an untamed wilderness anyway? Things you can do to reduce your impact: 1. Plant a tree, if everyone capable planted a tree, that would be billions of trees introduced back into the world 2. Go paperless, with the digital world and inventions it’s easy. Although it may not appeal to some, the “wash don’t wipe method” is a good way to keep paperless. (..and it’s cleaner) 3. Buy recycled goods, and recycle yourself 4. Eat a plant based diet 5. Look for the FSC certificate on wood products BIODIVERSITY Furthermore, with the destruction of some of the world’s most delicate habitats, innumerable animal species are under threat. Whilst some may dismiss such an effect as ‘survival of the fittest’ or as a necessary sacrifice on the altar of progress, there is a far more practical benefit to biodiversity. Like it or not, humans as advanced as we are still constituting part of a wider system of interlocking species. Each one of us has our part to play and to compromise just a single member of this system has a knock on consequence for the rest. As humans continue to converge on habitats meant for others, it is inevitable that some form of conflict will break out as we are simply not equipped by nature to thrive in such an area. Forest are also the habitat of many species of wildlife and plants and these are being lost along with the trees. It is estimated that we are losing around 50,000 species of animals, plants and microorganisms every year due to deforestation and this will have a hugely detrimental effect on the delicate balance of the ecosystem. However, it’s not just in forests that species are losing their habitats. Marshland, wetlands and meadows are all disappearing as we expand our urban areas. In recent years there has been much concern over the dwindling bee population and their survival has a direct implication for us as they pollinate our crops and ensure our food supply. The obvious way to tackle this issue, would obviously be just to leave alone those regions which have a precariously balanced biome. Yet that is not to say that we should build a big wall around them and cease all contact, when opportunities exist to prosper and enjoy ourselves alongside the existing inhabitants of the area. Anyway, if you’re trying to build a house and keep waking up to a pack of ravenous tigers circling you, it might be better to try somewhere else. Just a thought. OIL SPILLAGE Speaking of untamed, the world’s great oceans seemingly stretch on forever to horizons always out of reach, encouraging adventure to further riches. Whilst the pirates of days gone by may have faded to a Halloween […]
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