Given the natural disasters that have struck us recently, it isn’t hard to think that the planet is calling for attention. Monstrous hurricanes and typhoons, devastating floods, raging wildfires, and powerful earthquakes have plagued some part of the world in the last few weeks.
It may make us wonder what is going on? Is the Earth claiming to be noticed? It is possible, although I have no way to prove it.
Back in July, CNN came out with a piece that captured my attention. It was about the sixth mass extinction that is upon us (Sutter, 2017). It made me think that our planet definitely deserves attention.
Taking care of our health and wellness includes taking care of our environment. And, if our environment isn’t well, we aren’t well.
I’m going to share the information covered by CNN, what others are doing about our planet, and one thing we can do.
The video and article released by CNN includes disturbing images and stories gathered by John D Sutter, Nick Payton Walsh, and other journalists. They cite a study released by a team of ecology professors from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Stanford University, who gathered evidence that a mass extinction is upon us (Sutter, 2017).
Some of the most gripping information they covered includes:
- One-third of all animals are shrinking in what they call a “population decay”
- 50% of all wildlife has disappeared in the last 40 years
- Species are vanishing at 100 times the normal rate
- African elephants could be extinct in 20 years
- Three-fourths of all species could be gone in a couple of centuries
- Coral reefs could disappear by 2050
- We have had five mass extinctions in Earth’s history, and the sixth could be upon us
The cause is due to climate change, which is in turn is due to burning fossil fuels, deforestation, animal poachers, and increase of farmlands and pastures (Sutter, 2017).
But, there are people who are making a difference.
Inspiring Story from a High School Student
A high school student named Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, and 20 other teenagers, are suing the United States government. They are suing the government for supporting the fossil fuel industry, arguing this is “violating their constitutional right to life, liberty, prosperity, and the pursuit of happiness” (Loewe, 2017a). Instead, they want the government to devise a climate recovery plan. The case has gotten attention and will go to trial in February 2018.
Inspiring Work from a Climate Researcher
Paul Hawken has worked with a team of other climate researchers and experts to evaluate how different measures can help to reduce the effects of climate change (Loewe, 2017b). They came up with 80 solutions, and ranked them in order of priority, based on the impact they would have. In addition, they provided the cost and savings for each option. All of these are published in a book, and the summary of the findings are on the website Drawdown (2017).
According to Drawdown, the top 10 measures that can reduce climate change are:
- Refrigerant Management- certain types of chemical refrigerants used in refrigerators and air conditioners have caused ozone layer depletion, and although they are being phased out, carefully destroying them and adequately managing their substitution can have a big impact
- Wind Turbines (Onshore)- wind energy can soon become the most cost effective source of energy, and onshore wind farms offer a lot of promise
- Reduced Food Waste- as much as one-third of the food raised for production gets wasted, which ends up as garbage and contributes to greenhouse gases. Thus, reducing the amount of food that gets thrown out can make a big difference on climate change
- Plant-Rich Diet- cattle raising alone is the source of one-fifth of global gas emissions, and some argue that eating a plant-rich diet instead of an animal-rich diet is the single most impactful way an individual can affect climate change
- Tropical Forests- protecting tropical forests and encouraging forests to thrive can support animal and plant life, biodiversity, water conservation, and the planet as a whole
- Educating Girls- efforts to educate women can lay the foundation to foment economic growth, reduce population growth, and spearhead solutions to climate change
- Family Planning- access to contraception is another way to reduce population growth, and also helps women’s efforts towards empowerment and equality
- Solar Farms- spaces dedicated to solar panels offer an alternate way to generate electricity
- Silvopasture- integrating trees and pasture to raise and feed livestock offer a solution where forests don’t have to be cut down for farming
- Rooftop Solar- increasing the use of home solar systems where solar panels are installed on roof-tops is an effective way for households to gather energy for individual needs
One Thing We Can Do (& More)
The list above provides an indication of what we can do make a large impact on climate change.
The one thing we can do today to aid our planet is to eat mostly greens and plants, and reduce meat consumption. As explained in #4 above, this will aid in reducing greenhouse gases from cattle farming.
In addition, although we do not control the food waste in food production, we can contribute by reducing the amount of food we waste.
We can also support efforts to protect or help build forests, use wind and solar energy, provide education to women, and facilitate family planning. We can search for any of these efforts in our local area and either volunteer our time or donate resources to aid these causes.
Drawdown. (2017). Summary of solutions by overall rank. Drawdown. Retrieved on September 7, 2017 from http://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank
Loewe, E. (2017a). Meet the teen suing the US government for climate change. MBG- Mind Body Green. Retrieved on September 7, 2017 from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/teenager-suing-us-government-for-climate-change?utm_term=pos-1&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_content=daily1&utm_campaign=170906
Loewe, E. (2017b). Paul Hawken knows exactly how we can reverse climate change. MBG- Mind Body Green. Retrieved on September 7, 2017 from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/paul-hawken-on-the-environmental-crisis?utm_term=pos-2&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_content=daily1&utm_campaign=170907
Sutter, J. D. (2017). Sixth mass extinction: the era of ‘biological annihilation.’ CNN. Retrieved on September 7, 2017 from http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/11/world/sutter-mass-extinction-ceballos-study/index.html