Planet Earth is Dying

One thing that humans commonly think about is how often a single human being ruins the environment around themselves. There is not a week where a human being doesn’t throw something away; where he or she doesn’t put an item in the landfills that will take longer to decompose than themselves. Every day, more than once a day, humans throw things away without a second thought as to what putting that item in the trash bin actually means. Humans don’t realize how many tons of fossil fuels they use in a year, nor in what ways they emit those fuels. An obvious source is vehicles humankind uses every day, but other sources may surprise some. The reader is invited to look into where their fossil fuel footprint comes from. Please continue reading in order to see how the human race is destroying the planet.

One can easily see that with every human advancement in society, humankind destroys some aspect of its surrounding ecosystem. Every building that exists, that has been well furnished, has destroyed countless acres of forest and ecosystem. Every building exists because of mining that humankind has done; mining that has disrupted the wildlife and geography of the surrounding area. Humans use the land for their own use, not for the greater good of the human organism living alongside other organisms. Humans are selfish due to a lack of thought about the actions they take. They have a tendency to think about their species as if they were the only species on the planet. They don’t think about how clear cutting an area of a forest, even if it is a small area, affects the wild life living among humankind. They don’t consider how many organisms live in or off of a single tree or bush. Humans don’t realize and don’t care about how many mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and birds can benefit from the preservation of a SINGLE tree. Here in the suburbia of Ohio, ash trees are being taken down because of the Ash Borer, a type of beetle that kills ash trees, because the government wishes the spread of these beetles to stop. The government may not consider the benefit of having these beetles around. The dead trees left in the wake of these beetles create opportunities for nesting birds. The beetles themselves are being feasted upon by several woodpecker species. These species of woodpeckers had reached record lows is population until the Ash Borer first came to Detroit. There is a benefit to leave the dead trees standing and the Ash Borer to continue felling trees. It is not the government’s responsibility to control and maintain the environment in this specific case. This is how humankind is destroying the planet: humans play god in the fate of the environment around them.

There is not a day where a human doesn’t waste water. First off, if an ounce of water is not used because it was spilled, it is still wasted in the household environment. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average person uses between 80-100 gallons of water per day and estimates that 95% of the water humans use goes down the drain. So a single human wastes 76-95 gallons per day. Those gallons come mainly from water-using household appliances such as the dishwasher (4-10 gallons), the washing machine (20-40 gallons per cycle), and a shower wastes 2-5 gallons of water per minute. Once all of those numbers and ones that are not mentioned are added together, there is an astounding amount of water wasted in households. Peak water and “the water wars” have already started. Peak water is a situation when the ecosystem, mainly human beings, uses more water than can be replaced. The water wars have started because of this. Soon, water will have to be rationed because humans use too much water and it will be controlled by corporations, such as Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, whom are already investigating what water could do to revenue. These companies estimate that if the only way to get water is to buy it, in addition to the current water bill, it will create 1 trillion dollars in annual revenue. This suggests that the cost in water is going to double for consumers, all because of peak water and the fact that humankind has been unable to fix this problem. In addition, starting in the age of industrialization, water pollution has become quite a large problem. Our fresh water supply, the measly 0.007% of water earth has that is drinkable, not frozen all year round, and is otherwise accessible, is being diminished by consumption but also by pollution. In developing countries, 70 percent of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into waters, polluting the usable water supply. On average, 99 million pounds (45 million kilograms) of fertilizers and chemicals are used each year, which end up being washed away into aquifers, local ponds and lakes, and rivers. Pollution of surface water is a problem for over half of humankind. Each year, 250 million documented cases of water-borne diseases are documented, with roughly 5 to 10 million deaths. Fifty percent of worldwide groundwater is unsuitable for drinking because of pollution. At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients with water-borne illnesses. Close to 85% of the total area of Bangladesh has contaminated groundwater, and the most dangerous contaminant is arsenic. Thus, 1.2 million people in this nation are exposed to the deadly effects of arsenic-contaminated water. Other countries are in a similar predicament. One of the most polluted rivers in the world is the King River in Australia. Over 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals and other creatures have died from the toxins and acidity in this river. Thus, water pollution must be addressed immediately even if the crisis doesn’t affect every human nor every reader. The U.N. estimates that by 2025, only a decade away, forty-eight nations, with combined populations of 2.8 billion, will face freshwater scarcity, just because humans are too naïve and selfish to fix the “water problem” before it gets out of hand.

Out of all the items humans have a tendency to throw away, Styrofoam, in all of its different forms, is one of the most hazardous items. Styrofoam is composed of 98% air, making it lightweight and buoyant. Insulation Styrofoam has a distinctive blue color; Styrofoam for craft applications is typically found in white and green. Styrofoam can be used under roads and other structures to prevent soil disturbances due to freezing and thawing. First off, Styrofoam, especially the Styrofoam that looks like it is comprised of a bunch of bubbles (expanded Styrofoam), will never decompose on its own. The EPA and International Agency for Research on Cancer have determined styrene, the chemical from which Styrofoam is made, increases your chance of contracting cancer. The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research found 57 chemical by-products released during the combustion of expanded polystyrene foam. From July 1, 2015 New York City is the largest city in America to prohibit the sale, possession, and distribution of single-use polystyrene foam. Recently, researchers discovered that mealworms, the larvae form of the darkling beetle, could digest and live healthily on a diet of Styrofoam. About 100 mealworms could consume between 34 and 39 milligrams of Styrofoam in a day. The droppings of mealworm were found to be safe for use as soil for crops. These little worms are one solution to the problem of Styrofoam, but there are countless other problems. Some of these additional problems include human health safety. The EPA National Human Adipose Tissue Survey for 1986 identified styrene residues in 100% of all samples of human fat tissue taken in 1982 in the US. Styrene is used to make polystyrene plastic and is a contaminant in all polystyrene foam packages. However, the migration of styrene is nothing new. It was first documented in 1972, and then again in 1976. Although these dates may seem to make the data invalid, studies completed recently have come back with similar results. One could only guess at why we continue to manufacture Styrofoam. The simple answer to the Styrofoam problem is to completely dispose of it (not by putting it in the trash) and to stop manufacturing it.

At the moment, until readers and the rest of humankind can figure out an effective method of dealing with these environmental problems, it is advised to readers to be aware of how much they throw away and how much they consume various products throughout the day. Please help by commenting bellow.

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6 thoughts on “Planet Earth is Dying

  1. This is a well-written article with a lot of statistics and figures (hopefully correct). It’s too bad that we consume so much and pollute so much. Your article really makes one consider all the impact that we, as humans, affect on our environment.

    Like

  2. I’m an avid recycler. I may even be a bit of a nag when it comes to recycling. 🙂

    I cannot stand waste either. In our house, we turn off the light we don’e need, don’t leave the water running when brushing our teeth, switch out our light bulbs to the most eco-friendly…

    Keep talking about it Elia! I’m proud of your advocacy.

    Like

    • I love upcycling too. I find that it is a good way of creating something useful while preventing the landfills from overflowing. We have paper recycling and plastic/metal recycling. We also have a 40 foot long, 6 feet tall compost pile in my back yard. There is a 6 foot drop in the backyard, so that is where we put the leaves, branches, and biodegradable trash.

      Like

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