Man and Nature

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Confucius

Within the last 50 years, humans have had more of an impact on the world’s environment than in all of the rest of human history. We’ve gone through the Industrial Revolution, and are now entering a new era of technology that would not be possible without industries that use natural resources. Many have referred to this as the “Anthropocene”, the Age of Man, because we have had such a great influence on our global habitat. In today’s world, it’s a matter of what resources we have, how we are utilizing them, and whether or not we can sustain them. The issue of sustainability is important because this generation may survive on the current resources we have available, but our children, grandchildren, and/or great grandchildren may not.

Our consumption of resources far outweighs our contributions to and restoration of them. Take bycatch in the commercial fishing industry, for example. We harvest hundreds of thousands of pounds of various seafood species from the oceans every year, and sell them as a product in a market. This is common information, known by the general public, but what is not such common knowledge is the fact that our commercial fishing techniques and tactics are so indiscriminate that often times the number of innocent lives that are taken overshadows the number of individuals taken from the target species. (NOAA).

Of course, there are many people who deny the fact that man-made climate change actually exists, or believe that climate change is actually a positive thing. I’m not entirely sure about the upbringing of this specific group of people, nor do I want to generalize such an unfortunately large group of people, but I personally am unable to comprehend how someone can so blatantly ignore and deny something that has such a large body of evidence. It ignorance and/or arrogance to turn a blind eye to such a prevalent issue. Every single human being on this planet requires the same basic elements: Air, food, and water. Everyone breathes, everyone eats, everyone drinks. We biologically have no choice, and each of those three fundamental components of life are facing different threats.

Climate change is a natural phenomenon. Scientists have proven five individual mass extinction events, the sixth of which is currently underway. Our planet has gone through multiple ice ages and warming periods. That is a cycle, and scientists have also proven at least five major ice ages followed by long periods of warming. Right now, we should be falling slowly back into a cold spell. Despite what history has told us, we are actually heading in the complete opposite direction. The debate between many is the difference in the science behind the terms “global warming” and “climate change”. In the late 80s- early 90s, scientists believed the Earth was cooling, and coined the phrase “global cooling”. Technology has advanced since then, and we have come to the realization that the earth is both warming and cooling, but in all of the wrong places. This is why it’s called climate change. There are things wrong with our atmosphere and our ocean that is causing warmer, wetter, cooler, and drier-than-normal seasons in areas that historically have had the opposite; things are changing. People are absolutely correct when they say that it is a natural process but, however, it is man that is increasing the rate at which it occurs.

Climate change effects every man, woman, and child on this planet, regardless of location, race, socioeconomic status, sexuality, etc. It is something that everyone has in common. It is not a political view. It is not a “concept…created by and for the Chinese to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” (Donald Trump). It is something that is real, happening right now, and there are things that we can do to stop it. We have the potential and the capacity to replant entire forests, and there are people out there doing that, right now. A nine-year-old boy from Belgium named Felix Finkbeiner started an organization in 2008 called “Plant for the Planet”. He wanted to plant one million trees in every country in the world as a way to combat and promote awareness of global climate change. Four years later, Germany was the first to reach that goal. (Plant for the Planet).

The film “Racing Extinction” is very near and dear to my heart. I have personal connections with many people involved in the production of the film, and I have been following their storyline nearly since the beginning of production five years ago. When we viewed it in class it was the tenth time I had seen it. The most outstanding line from that movie is “Better to light one candle than curse the darkness” (Racing Extinction). There is so much global devastation that it is admittedly sometimes hard to see through to the end goal. If the number of people making small, daily lifestyle changes to promote positive environmental adjustments increased by even a tiny percentage perhaps we wouldn’t be headed so quickly towards a seemingly apocalyptic future after all.

 

“What Is Bycatch?” Office of Sustainable Fisheries. NOAA, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.

“How Much Coal Is Left” US Energy Information Administration (EIA). N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.

Donald J. Trump (realDonaldTrump). “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”. 06 Nov 2012, 19:15 UTC. Tweet.

“Aims and Vision.” Plant for the Planet. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2016.

Racing Extinction. Dir. Louie Psihoyos. Perf. Shawn Heinrichs, Paul Hilton, Joel Sartore, Leilani Münter. Oceanic Preservation Society, 2015. Film.

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