WE HAVE ONLY ONE EARTH: MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES TODAY FOR TOMORROW
We are only a fraction of a second in earth’s lifetime
yet it is our only lifeline.
The Earth matters. It matters immensely. Not “if only”. Not “for as long as”. It matters. Full stop.
Innovations in science and technology aimed at addressing society’s fundamental problems have had massive environmental consequences since the industrial revolution, leading to devastating effects on the planet and it seems like nature is fighting back against human activities. Today, the world we live in is riddled with challenges of a global scale—competition for resources, climate tensions, demographic pressure, regional disparities, epidemics, pandemics, climate change, scarcity of resources and so on. Being the ultimate recipient of these unfortunate events our planet is steadily arriving at a final turning point.
It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate. The Atmosphere and oceans have warmed, which has been accompanied by sea level rise, a strong decline in Arctic sea ice, and other climate-related changes. The impacts of climate change on people and nature are increasingly apparent. Unprecedented flooding, heat waves, and wildfires have cost billions in damages. Habitats are undergoing rapid shifts in response to changing temperatures and precipitation patterns.
The world has lost 6 million km2 of forest land larger than Europe since the seventeenth century (Clark, 1989). Furthermore, the earth’s environment is deteriorating to the point where its ecological function is jeopardized. According to a recent UNEP report, the degree of vegetative land degradation has reached 1964.4 million hectares (17 percent of the world’s land) over the last 45 years as a result of overgrazing, deforestation, misuse, and poor farming methods and industrialization (UNEP, 2019). Over the same era across Europe, around 23% of the total, resulting in biodiversity loss and the extinction of other species.
The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have Increased significantly since the Industrial Revolution began. In the case of carbon dioxide, Since preindustrial times, the atmospheric Concentration of CO2 has increased by over 40%, methane has increased by more than 150%, and nitrous oxide has increased by roughly 20%. More than half of the increase in CO2 has occurred since 1970. Increases in all three gases contribute to warming of Earth, With the increase in CO2 playing the largest role.
In 2009 there were 351 natural disasters and 325 of these were climate‐related.
• Natural disasters killed 10,551 people; of these 8,700 died as a result of climate‐related disasters.
• Of the 142 million people affected by natural disasters, 139 million were affected by climate related disasters.
• Floods affected the greatest number of people (57 million) and climate‐related disasters accounted for 86 per cent of reported damages (CCC, 2010).
Annually, about 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide and 1,000,000 plastic bags are produced every minute having an average “working life” of 15 minutes and when we trash them they take between 100 and 400 years to decompose into micro plastics – and in some cases this never even happens? Plastic bags contain toxic chemical compounds that damage our health, our cities and the aquatic ecosystem (Plastic Ocean, 2021).
Around 1.1 to 3.2 billion people will experience increased water scarcity by 2080 as a result of climate change, and that’s a very large number. Here, again, there are going to be several differences across different regions of the globe. Revenues are likely to fall by about 90 percent by the end of the 21st century in several parts of Africa– These are scientific projections if emissions continue at increasing rates.
For Humans we Face the threat of Food security– which is expected to be reduced at 2 degrees Celsius warming with the largest risks emerging in the African Sahel, the Mediterranean, Central Europe, the Amazon, and Western and Southern Africa. Seven to 10 percent of rangeland livestock will be lost at about 2 degrees Celsius warming. Flooding of small Islands and Coastal and Low-lying Areas.
FEASIBLE ACTIONS TO TAKE
Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
According to the United Nations SDGs actions taken must revolve around 3 pillars– Social progress, economic development and sustainable environment so you see trying to solve these crises of our planet’s environment is no simple task.
What is it that we need to do? Well, we have to bring about very urgent mitigation of the emissions of greenhouse Gasses. The IPCC has examined several stabilization scenarios, and I would like to bring to your attention one set of these scenarios. If we want to stabilize the total mean Temperature increase between 2 to 2.4°C, then we would have to stabilize greenhouse Gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, in CO2 equivalent terms, anywhere from 445 to 490 Parts per million. That, incidentally, is roughly where we are today.
Plastics- less than 9% of all plastics get recycled while 19% was incinerated and almost 50% went to sanitary landfills The remaining 22% was disposed of in uncontrolled dumpsites, burned in open pits or leaked into the environment (VOA, 2022). It is quite evident to see that recycling is underutilized and Inefficient. Instead more effort Should be towards making short-use plastics biodegradable.
It is important to employ decarbonisation technologies and techniques that reduce CO2 emissions, such as renewable energy, fuel conversion, efficiency gains, nuclear power, and the storage and use of carbon. Most of these technologies are well-established and carry an acceptable level of risk management (Ricke et al. 2017).
Create greater awareness and enlightenment like the efforts and initiatives of the EMEND group. Despite its widespread endorsement, such strategies needs a much greater level of political and financial support to enable it to reach its goal of facilitating adequate response for all by the end of the 2030 and beyond. Seek joint solutions to environmental problems that affect several localities. The dissemination of information from existing programme should be facilitated and encouraged among interested countries and local institutions.
It is impossible to forget that only human beings are capable of reason and it means that each of us must be filled with the sense of responsibility and concern for everything that surrounds us. If we want to change the world we should change our thinking, our concept of it. We were born on the planet Earth. It means that we are its citizen hence we must protect it. I’ll end with this quote, “the shared mind is more powerful than the individual alone”. We must protect the earth and must do it, irrespective of age.
Ricke KL et al (2017) Constraints on global temperature target overshoot. Sci Rep 7:14743. https ://doi.org/10.1038/s4159 8-017-14503 -9
Achieving Sustainable Development And Promoting Development Cooperation (UNESA, 2008 Pg. 18 & 19) https://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/docs/pdfs/fina_08-45773.pdf
Climate change conference 29 Nov – 10 Dec 2010https://royalsociety.org/~/media/royal_society_content/policy/projects/climate-evidence-causes/climate-change-evidence-causes.pdf
Plastic pollution facts https://plasticoceans.org/the-facts/
UNEP (2019) Emissions gap report. UN Environment Program, Nairobi.https ://wedoc s.unep.org/bitst ream/handle/20.500.11822/30797 /EGR20 19.pdf?sequence=1&isAll owed=y. Accessed 22 Dec 2019