In a recent post entitled Climate Change Is Not The (Only) Issue I listed twelve critical issues, all of which are interrelated, that need to be addressed in the coming decade. But if we are to fully understand the magnitude of each issue, and the nature of their connectedness, we must first understand a few fundamental facts about this amazing planet.
Our existence on earth is a complicated matter, which can make finding solutions a troublesome task. But one way to look at it, is to consider which elements or trends in the equation are fixed, which are on the rise, and which are on the decline – it makes for an interesting quandary.
What is Unchanged?
The first thing we need to realize is that the size of planet earth is fixed. It neither grows nor shrinks, no matter the population of people, animals or plants. And thus, these three factors remain constant. (While minor variations do occur, we basically have a fixed volume of these resources available to us.)
What is Decreasing?
As the earth evolved over billions of years, deposits of various natural resources, such as minerals, metals and fossil fuels, formed below the surface of the earth. And there’s a reason they’re called non-renewable resources, as there is no way to regenerate or replenish them. When they’re gone, they’re gone, and since the industrial age mankind has been using them at an increasing rate.
- Fossil Fuels (oil, natural gas, coal, shale, tar sands)
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, between 1995 and 2005, worldwide production of aluminum jumped 64%, iron production by 50% and copper output by 42%.
“Like oil, most of the easy-toreach deposits of basic materials like copper, nickel and gold have already been found and exploited. That has left lower-grade deposits in remote, politically volatile countries that will cost more to develop than the mother loades of yesteryear.” Wall Street Journal, July 2006.
What is Increasing?
Burning fossil fuels results in CO2 and pollution, as well as ocean acidification. As global population increases, we use more non-renewable resources and burn more fuel. The same thing happens as people in developing countries become more affluent and buy more products. Feeding this growing population has led to deforestation, which removes a vital source of CO2 absorption.
The Future is Not Promising
Our air, soil and water suffer from the effects of toxic pollution, as do all forms of plant and animal life. Health problems are on the rise do to these factors, yet our focus remains on profit rather that planet.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that clearly shows how this planet is being degraded at an alarming rate, but even without all the numerical data, simple logic tells us this combination of fixed, decreasing and increasing factors is not sustainable for much longer.
A healthy planet requires sustainable practices…how are you supporting this goal?