Yet for a long time, we humans have lived our lives on this planet as if we own the Earth.
To make way for societal developments, we have destroyed many natural habitats to many plant and animal species. We have been carrying out deforestation and clearing of natural grasslands at alarming rates, for reasons such as to extract resources (eg. paper, tin, etc) from the earth, or simply to get more land for developments (eg. farming, building of cities, landfills).
In the process, we have striped other creatures of their habitats and even lives. With the destruction of forests, we are also hindering the earth’s ability to clean itself of excessive pollutants and carbon dioxide (which contributes to global warming), resulting in a less ideal climate for both ourselves and other living organisms.
To feed our increasing population, we have been stretching the earth beyond its limits, through activities such as over-farming and over-fishing. Unrelenting, we continue to seek to challenge these limits, through inventing new ways of producing more for our greedy species. We introduced the use of man-made chemical fertilizers, artificial hormonal injection in farm animals, and genetic engineering.
In the process, we have introduced many man-made and harmful substances into other species, the environment and ourselves (unwittingly, we have also tainted the quality of our food supplies, and bring harm to our bodies). And many of these substances have impact still beyond our full comprehension.
The ecological balance we have with other living organisms has been greatly upset. Many plant and animal species have gone extinct as a result of man’s actions. And this is even before we have even discovered their existence!
The loss of the numerous plant species also mean goodbye to important sources of medicinal plants and herbs that could potentially be cures to deadly diseases plaguing mankind today.
GREEN SOLUTION. GET GREEN.
We need to be more responsible and proactive in protecting the earth’s ecological balance. This environmental consciousness should be present, whether we are dealing with government policies, or industrial and economic activities, or in our daily living.
It should not be a matter of convenience, or doing whatever we can within the limits of our societal or economic constraints. In fact, considerations for the environment should come first. For without a planet to live in, there would be no room for societal or economic life.
As an individual is you should not over-consume (not just food, but other goods and services as well). In addition, you should also encourage those around you to do the same. By consuming just what we need, we reduce the strain we place on the earth as a source of our resources.
Keep an organic garden, or even start an organic farm, and help reintroduce more life (beyond humans and our needs) on this planet. Use organic products instead of products that release harmful chemicals into the environment. Donate regularly to forest or wildlife conservation efforts. Or better still, protect a piece of forest land under your name. Respect the lives of other living creatures (plants and animals alike, not just pet dog or cat), and also educate your kids on the importance of doing so. In this way, you would have built the foundations for a more environmentally-conscious generation.
All these efforts will contribute now and in the long run to keeping this earth sustainable.
The earth’s resources are limited.
As the human population continues to grow and technological advancements (eg. mass production, transportation) help make more material goods more readily available to people all over the world, we consume more and more natural resources. This rate of consumption is especially apparent in developed countries.
More and more trees are cut down to produce more and more paper for the growing number of offices worldwide. More oil, coal and other natural fuels are extracted from the earth to drive our factory machineries, our automobiles (including our airplanes) and our homes. However, the world’s supplies of oil and coal will not last forever, and our use of these fuels is contributing to polluted air, acid rain and global warming.
In fact, according to a World Wildlife Fund report, humans are using more than 20% more natural resources than the Earth can produce. And between 1970 and 2000, the populations of land, freshwater and marine species have fallen by about 40%. At this rate, we would outstrip the earth’s capacity to support life very soon.
With deforestation and fewer trees on earth, there are fewer plants to absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, accelerating the impact of global warming. In turn, global warming worldwide have led to climate changes, and phenomenon such as serious flooding and drying up of originally forested land, leading to further loss of precious forests, and destruction of habitat for more plant and animal species.
Over-fishing have almost wiped out some fish populations in the waters, and reduced the number of fishes in the ocean significantly.
At this rate, the earth would not be able to sustain life (including ours) on this planet for long.
GREEN SOLUTION. GET GREEN.
We need to evaluate what we really need, as opposed to what we want. Is the new car really what we need? If not, then don’t buy it.We need to learn to consume only what we need, and be considerate in our consumption. In other words, remember that we are not the only ones that the earth has to provide for. Also consider buying eco-friendly products instead. The use of such environmentally friendly products helps you reduce your carbon footprints, and even allow you to contribute to a greener planet.
In our day-to-day activities, we actually release substantial amount of toxic substances into the environment.
Have you ever think about the shampoo, soap and cleaning detergent that you use. Many of them contain chemicals that are washed down the sinks and pipes, into drains, rivers, reservoirs or even the sea.
Think about the fast-food lunch you had. In the process of producing the bread, meat patty and salad for the burger, chemicals in the form of pesticides, man-made fertilizers and even hormones are released into the lands, water and air. The wrappers used in packaging the meal is bound for the landfills and incinerators (because it is very hard to recycle them). In turn, harmful gases are released when the wrappers (as well as other waste) are buried or burnt.
Think about the car that you drive to work, or even the bus or cab that you take to your office. These vehicles emit greenhouse gases (contributing to global warming) and toxic substances like lead (harmful to living things, including the human body) into the atmosphere.
And we have yet to reach the part on the amount of chemicals and poisonous gases produced by factories and industries, in the process of manufacturing the various items we use (eg. electronics, clothes, paper and plastic products, furniture, packaged food etc), or extracting energy resources (eg. oil, coal, etc) from the earth.
In our modern day life, it may be hard to leave zero trace of toxic substances, or create zero pollution in our activities. So many of the things that we use on a daily basis contain some form of chemicals, or are produced through the use of some chemicals. Despite the pollution caused, we would still need to travel to work, whether by private or public transport. And we definitely need to consume food.
GREEN SOLUTION. GET GREEN.
Consider switching to more natural cleaners and personal products, such as natural detergents, or organic detergents, as well as organic shampoos and lotions. Made of natural substances instead of man-made chemicals, minimal harmful chemicals are used in the process of their production. At the same time, these natural products are ready bio-degradable and do little harm even when released into the environment, because they are found in the natural environment in the first place.
Switch to organically grown food if you can. Organically grown food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that would harm the environment, as well as hormones or genetic re-engineering. What’s more, organically grown food are so much healthier, because they are free of carcinogens and heavy metals (as a result of the synthetic chemicals), as well as more nutritious. And keep away from fast-food!
Also, what does going green mean in practice is to drive less, and use the public transport instead. You can even opt for carpool service in case the option is available. Automobiles are one of the single largest sources of air pollution on earth today, and the harmful gases released contribute to global warming and climate changes. By taking public transport (such as buses and trains), you are actually helping to reduce the number of automobiles on this earth, and hence the amount of air pollution produced by these vehicles.