Extinction: a word associated exclusively with dinosaurs, certain smaller animal species, and ancient civilizations. Or, that used to be the case. Recently, there’s been a lot of speculation on our possible mass extinction; that is to say, you and me and everyone we love. Why, you might ask? Because of our collective irreverence for Nature. Although much of the problem can be attributed to the greed of the mega-wealthy and shortsighted politicians, we all play a part.
We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inward at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet. ~Stephen Hawking
What are the factors contributing to our possible extinction? I’ll share a few big ones. Landfill areas are expanding and pollution is worsening, in the air, on the ground, and in the water. Soils are being destroyed by chemicals and unhealthy farming practices. In addition to the clear-cutting that continues in forests, the remaining trees are catching fire more frequently and burning longer. Oceans are being polluted, over-fished, and the ocean floor raked clean. In short, Nature is being exploited at an alarming rate that increases every year, leaving humans with less oxygen and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which drives global warming. In fact, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that we must take drastic measures by the year 2030 to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming. If not, we could be facing unprecedented drought, flooding, heat, and land loss. This could result not only in increased personal loss due to natural disasters, but also world-wide food shortages as well as some presently-populated areas becoming uninhabitable.
I never gave much thought to why civilizations ended. According to an article on the website Live Science, new research suggests Ancient Greece’s collapse was due to a 300-year drought which caused wide-spread famine and conflict. I wonder: did their population approach the natural world with greed, irreverence, and irresponsibility?
A nation that destroys is soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
Below is a list of actions for making our situation a little better. What steps are you taking?
- When you go out for groceries or other merchandise, use your own bags. Plastic bags can break down into microparticles that make their way into our water sources. You’ve heard about all the plastic being found in the bodies of fish, right? This is a major culprit.
- Buy glass storage containers. Scientists are not yet sure how long hard plastics take to decompose. Therefore, each one thrown away may be buried in a landfill forever. Glass storage containers can last forever, and your food won’t end up leaching harmful plastic chemicals when heated or frozen.
- Do more home cooking. Takeout containers are usually bulky and not environmentally friendly. Not to mention, you control the oil, salt, & spice.
- Take your own coffee to work. If only once a week, just think of the stack of 52 coffee house cups & lids you’ll save from a landfill.
- Purchase items locally, if possible, with little or no packaging. Online orders require packing materials and boxes for shipping. Buying processed foods leaves you with cans, bags, and more boxes. Fresh produce is usually sold at the market without packaging. Better yet, buy from a farmer’s market or join a CSA.
- Recycle all the items you possibly can. Take a moment to consider in which receptacle they should go. At a local airport, I’ve noticed the “trash” sign has been changed to read “landfill;” a great reminder that the stuff we throw away doesn’t just disappear.
- Once you finish your current shampoo, laundry detergent & various cleaning supplies, replace them with natural products. This change means you will no longer use those toxic chemicals on your body or inhale them inside your home, and they won’t be going into the soil and water.
- Avoid using anything toxic in your garden or on your flowers. Roundup, the worst Nature violator in my opinion, is a biocide, not just a pest & weed killer. It does not discriminate as to what kinds of life it destroys. The healthy microbes in our guts are not immune to its destruction, which leads to disease of all kinds. Studies show it also causes birth defects & autism.
- Vote with your dollars by purchasing organic and/or non-GMO foods. Organic foods use regular seeds grown as Mother Nature intended: in healthier soil, attended by insects, with no harmful chemicals. Non-GMO foods utilize regular, healthy seeds as well: those that have not been altered in a lab to withstand the Roundup sprayed on them and accompanying weeds.
- Don’t purchase water in small bottles. A great number of single-use plastic bottles don’t get recycled but wind up in landfills or tossed on the ground. Invest in a water filtration system if possible. If not, purchase large bottles that can be filled at a reverse osmosis dispenser, or purchase by the gallon or 2.5 gallon container & refill your personal water bottle as needed.
- Compost your food scraps. Some cities offer a weekly or bi-weekly pick-up service for a small fee. You may also be able to drop off your scraps at a community garden, where they will be gratefully received. By composting, thousand of pounds of food scraps avoid the landfill and decompose into natural fertilizer for crops. A win-win, for sure.
- Take your kids on Nature walks, teaching them the value of the natural beauty we are immersed in. If our species manages to survive a couple more decades, we will need young adults who understand the importance of appreciating and working with Nature as opposed to taking Her for granted.
- And now for a less easy step: If you are moved to act on a larger scale, make your voice heard. Contact your local, state & federal Representatives; become active in local politics; check out organizations like The Sierra Club and Farmers Footprint who are always in need of folks willing to sign petitions or contribute financially.
Extinction, a grim possibility now looming over our Planet, is a frightening concept. Taking action immediately to prevent our species from disappearing is one of our most pressing challenges. The time is now to express love and concern for Mother Earth. Our continued existence depends on it.
Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air or drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. ~Carl Sagan
Blessings for a Healthier Planet,