Culture

Our House on Fire

“I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of skeptically and dictatorially.” -E.B. White

As dark apocalyptic predictions circulate society, carrying the sense of foreboding, I stand unalarmed. My personal lack of worry over the end of the world exists simply because deeper worries are demanded elsewhere. At this point in time, even as technology is advancing, Earth is ironically suffering. The latest industrial and mechanical pursuits help humanity, yet also quietly dismantle our global habitat. Spiking rates of pollution, waste accumulation, energy consumption and population growth are placing perilous strains upon the planet- the lone planet holding oxygen and life to our knowledge, our lone home. These manmade monsters currently push Earth closer to its breaking point. Before the world will destroy man, man may destroy the world.

Society has been subject to lofty warnings of global warming, kept preserved by the intense memory of Al Gore’s film “The Inconvenient Truth.” While some still hold doubts about whether our world is slowly sizzling, another basic truth cannot be denied; Earth is in growing trouble. The environments most take for granted- beautiful coasts, forests, and water bodies- are in great decay and we stand guilty. It does not matter if one is a tree hugger or stylist on Fifth Avenue, this is a universally scaled problem that does not only scream for concern over nature, but over the quality of life for future generations. Unless Earth’s current residents all lighten their environmental footprint, their children will live in a world extremely different than today.

For those who fall asleep in Biology class or need a refresher in ecology, this is a desperate wake up call. An ecosystem consists of both the abiotic and the biotic, which is everything inanimate and alive, respectively. When the abiotic factors of an ecosystem are disturbed- through human interventions of irrigated water, toxic air from above cities, and chopped trees- negative effects upon the biotic are induced. Everything is connected, whether through a food chain or species interdependence. Moreover, every ecosystem also has a keystone species, an organism which, if lost, causes a total shut down of other life. The crucial fact is we are NOT the keystone species. The global path of life can live without us, and it is WE who cannot live without it.  In other words, when decimating fellow inhabitants on this planet, humanity puts its own existence in danger. What goes around comes around. So as factory fumes are sent into the atmosphere, and ocean temperatures rise and acidify, we are digging our own grave. Yet if that fate seems too far away, consider this. Do you enjoy scuba diving and seeing brilliant coral reefs, eating seafood, and exercising outside? These are only privileges of the present, of today. Tomorrow your children may know nothing of them, unless mankind changes its ways now.

The future blinks in present little details. Right now vacationers shrug at the far off possibility that global warming may raise sea water over their favorite Pismo Beach. Communities shrug at the thought that someday landfills will run out of space, and trash will become a commonplace sight, returning to the filthy state of 15th century roads. There is belief that man is invincible, is advanced, and is dominant. Yet if one looks around and shakes off the distractions of his daily routine, the signs are already appearing. High gas prices. Harmful air quality. Toxic pesticide. Radioactivity. Dead coastlines. Closed National Parks. Water contamination. Unbalanced food distribution. Weather changes.

I am not attempting to put fear into reaction, but knowledge into action. These warnings are not bad beacons, only honest encouragement. As a citizen of this planet, it should be a duty to make choices that will benefit and conserve it. Simply by recycling, eating healthier foods, favoring alternative energies and water conservation one can make a small scale impact. This is more than the future of camping and butterflies. This is about the future of human beings, so that they can even reach a time where fear of the Apocalypse is justified. In a greater sense, man may be at the mercy of himself.

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