Robert Swan once said, that the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.
As humans, we are born with compassion. We are brought up knowing that the environment is important. Use reusable bags instead of plastic. Walk instead of drive. Don’t waste paper. Don’t leave the tap on while you brush your teeth. All simple rules that are fine by us. See, because we know that if we don’t follow them, nothing that bad can happen right? These rules don’t affect us that much. We don’t lose anything if we don’t follow them. We use the earth as a free vending machine with unlimited refills. But when are we going to realise that soon we’re going to have to put coins in the slot? The truth is, it isn’t unlimited. Not anymore. We have pushed the planet past that point. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere is so great that it would be impossible for us to plant enough trees to get rid of it all. Destroying trees in the forestry sector is causing more than 7 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. We are fast forwarding our expiry date by decreasing the things that may just be able to save us. The world has hit a crossroads, and we have chosen the wrong path. For centuries, the human race has viewed global warming and the inevitable loss of a functional planet as a distant fairytale event. Now, it has become one that is about to collide with our speeches of, “preparing the earth for future generations”. This issue is no longer one that will only affect our children, or their children, but has become one so urgent, that in three decades, our entire oil supply will run out. Can we keep telling ourselves that our future is one free from confrontation. When will we have to face the fact that there is no one else to blame but ourselves?
The world has an expiry date. For so long, we have glorified the idea that we’re part of some undamageable, untouchable species. That when we use the amount of natural resources that we do, the effects will never reach us. We took ourselves out of the equation, in order to ignore the blinding facts that global warming is going to affect us. A NASA study shows that the rate of temperature increase on the earth has doubled in the last 50 years. The Himalayan glaciers and other high altitude locations are among some of the locations most affected by global warming, only equalled by the Arctic and Antarctic. The Himalayas provide drinking water for roughly 40% of humans around the globe, through seven Asian river systems. However, in the next 50 years, 40% of humanity will face a serious drinking water crisis, as the earth’s temperature increases. According to the multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report compiled between 2000 and 2004, the average temperature in Alaska, Western Canada and Russia have risen at twice the global average. With rising sea levels, over 60 million people in India will be without homes, In Shanghai, 40 million would be displaced, in Beijing, 20 million. Global warming is not just going to disappear, no matter how long we deny it. That’s the thing about truth. It can be ignored, but not avoided.
When the Aborigines roamed Australia, 30,000 years ago, their respect of the natural environment governed their lifestyles. Their traditions were well established, and their care of the land has led to them to be recognised as one of the most historically gentle races of people. But now, can we look at our current culture and say the same? The equation has changed from need over greed, to greed over need. If humans disappeared, it would take the earth 50 million years to rid itself of the plastics we have created and discarded. Now think about how much of that plastic has never been used. We complain about a global food crisis, but in New Zealand in 2016, we wasted over $872 million dollars of edible food, and over half of it was still in its original packaging. Maybe we need to look past the problems, and back to our traditions. Where did… respect become neglect… responsibility an impossibility?
In conclusion, looking after God’s creation isn’t a choice that we get the option to tick on a form along with the box about ‘whether you can bring a plate of baking to the school fair or not”. It’s not an optional action. Because we either step up and do our bit, or we will find ourselves trapped on a one way ride to extinction.