“As many know, the Chinese expression for ‘crisis’ consists of two characters side by side. The first is the symbol for danger, the second the symbol for opportunity.” —Al Gore
There is so much talk today about global warming, environmental degradation and pollution that it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. What’s the difference between global warming, environmental degradation and global pollution, and are we, humans, responsible for all three events happening to our planet?
For example, according to The Naked Scientist, the average active volcano produces around 100 million tons of pollutants every year. Within the ash that a volcano produces is water vapor, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride. Sulfur dioxide reflects sunlight back into the atmosphere, so it actually helps in keeping our planet cool.
On the other hand, we humans produce over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide—the ‘greenhouse gas’— into the air. That’s 300 times more than what the average volcano produces. Obviously, we contribute significantly to global warming through the burning of fossil fuels making it a serious problem that needs our attention! But, is that the root cause of global warming?
According to one source—and other research that I’ve done in this area, tends to agree, “Astronomical causes are by far the most significant among all the various factors. Brightening of the sun, sunspot activity, precision of the equinoxes, tilt of the Earth’s orbit, and eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit are the most predominant astronomical causes, and they each have a different period length. This adds to the complexity of the climate change trends and often causes confusion and debate among scientists.” (http://www.odec.ca/projects/2009/qiao9d2/causes.htm). So much for who and what causes global warming. Now, on to the next question: pollution!
“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.” —Jacques-Yves Cousteau
And in that above quote lies our problem, it’s not global warming that we need to fear, but global pollution that will, inevitably, wipe us off the planet! According to Wikipedia, pollution includes: “air pollution, light pollution, littering, noise pollution, plastic pollution, soil contamination [and depletion], radioactive contamination, thermal pollution, visual pollution [and] water pollution.”
But, we have two other problems to deal with, one of which is our environmental degradation. According to Wikipedia, “Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution.” And we’re doing an excellent job of destroying our planet in every one of these areas.
The introduction of plastic into our society has been both a boon and a bust for us. I’m not sure if there are any actual statistics available on the subject, but plastics are everywhere. They’ve made our life easier in many respects, but also, because of our indifference to our environment, we’re killing life forms, and destroying our environment at an alarming rate, and, unless we change, our indifference to what we’re doing to Nature is going to be our own demise.
If we don’t start taking responsibility for our actions, and stop polluting our world, Gaia is going to lash back, and it won’t be in our favor!