“The Age of Anthropocene” – a new name for what some scientist call a geologic epoch, whereby Man is responsible for the catastrophic changes on the planet. This subject is what caused me to start focusing on the environment 20 years ago and one of the poignant motivators in starting The SHINE Companies.
Many studies show, it is not the building of magnificent cities or the innovative technologies of the last 30 years that scientists will remember hundreds of years from now. Rather it is the massive impact that humans have on the planet that will leave a sign for future geologists and scientists.
Human impact on the world has become a lot more obvious in the last 200 years in part because the population increased over 700% since the 1800’s –from 1 billion to over 7.5 billion people according to the most recent United Nations estimates. Additionally, affluence has clearly led to a greater consumption of energy, agriculture and other resources, while technology provides new tools for exploiting and consuming. These factors have been compounding since 1900. The threats are widespread…
Here are a few of the dramatic impacts mankind is having on the planet
- Ocean Acidification – A result of toxic bi-products such as carbon dioxide that humans produce by burning fossil fuels each year, plastic and waste that are dumped into our oceans and chemical runoff dead zones are created where sea life cannot survive. Ocean acidification is a global threat to sea life and coral, representing a major cause of their extinction. Scientists estimate that carbon pollution is causing oceans to acidify faster than they have in 300 million years.
- Extinction of Animals and Plants – Deforestation, Destruction of Habitat & Global Temperature increases are the top 3 reasons for this. Occurring at a rate hundreds of times higher than during most of the past half a billion years, according to geologists. As humans are the most adaptable species on Earth the impact on us is not devastating, however animals and plant life cannot adjust quickly enough to the dramatic changes in their environment and thus thousands of species have become extinct in the last 50 years. In the long run, this is not only sad, but actually tragic, as the ecosystem of the planet changes, many humans will be displaced and struggle for survival. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. Unlike past mass extinctions, caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by us — humans.
- Agricultural Waste: Nitrogen and chemical runoff from fertilized land causes dead zones at the mouth of rivers and is poisoning freshwater resources worldwide. It is a widely held belief that this chemical runoff is also responsible for the red tide in the ocean which causes toxic fumes and is killing the sea life.
- Destruction of Freshwater supply: Habitat alteration through construction of hydroelectric dams or irrigation projects can destroy freshwater ecosystems, preventing fish from natural migration paths. Overuse is another way humans have a major impact. Groundwater is being pumped at many multiples faster than replacement rate. These freshwater systems support wildlife and plants and overuse can destroy an entire ecosystem. Pollution runoff also has lethal effects on wildlife, toxic substances can cause genetic mutations altering life cycle of fish and wildlife, even completely destroying the population over time.
- Deforestation: Forests cover 30% of the Earth’s land. It is estimated that within 100 years there will be no rainforests. Agriculture is the main cause of deforestation. Side effects of Deforestation are widespread including soil erosion, floods, wildlife extinction, climate imbalance. It is estimated that every minute a forest the size of 20 football fields is cut down.
- Garbage: It is buried, burned, recycled and dumped…that is all after it has been shipped, by trucks, trains and boats. In essence waste, creating more waste. Plastic is one of the largest offenders, and one of the easiest to eliminate. Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. About 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year. Only about 10 percent of that is recycled. Of the plastic that is simply trashed, an estimated seven million tons ends up in the sea each year. Plastic never fully degrades, it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. According to the EPA, every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence.
Lions and Tigers and Bears – oh my, they are all precipitously close to extinction – as are rainforests. It is believed that we have caused this current crisis. As scientists debate what our planet looks like as a result of the Age of Anthropocene, more commonly known as the Age of Man, perhaps you would care to join me in writing a page in history.
Human actions have an undeniable impact on our planet’s natural resources and all of its inhabitants – which are vital to human existence here on Earth. Join me in Making a Difference. By starting with small changes, we can and will make a difference. Once day a time, spreading the word, taking consistent positive steps, teaching these practices to others, in order to pursue a friendlier approach to cohabiting here on Earth. I hope you will follow me and put into practice some easy ways to make a difference – which I will strive to bring you in this blog.