Your drink of choice with your last meal. A splash of pooling pump water; fusion, not stirred. Feel that burn in the back of your throat as it melts down to your DNA.
I believe the earth is warming, mostly from man-made activities and decisions. The results of this activity is not normal and not a reoccurring cycle what will self-correct. Besides a melting of polar ice that is rising the sea level, weather patterns changed enough to create disasters like fires, floods and drought. With the burning of fossil fuels, the release of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere contributes to rising temperatures and lowering air quality needed for life. Science, which usually improves our lives, is poised to poison us. Our ecosystems now contain an unhealthy amount of plastic. That is a simplified summary of my concerns.
When the end of the world comes, will we even know it? Nature kicks up her heels when she feels in the mood. Our coexistence with Mother Nature is like an irritable landlord and tenant relationship. We’re damn lucky an eviction notice hasn’t arrived. Even more threatening is the doom we are creating ourselves. The end of this story won’t be pretty. And now a word from our sponsors.
The nuclear reactor accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant barely skirted perhaps the worst man-made disaster in the history of Earth. As bad as it was, it could have been a nightmare of forever consequences. Had the reactor or the molten radioactive materials melted through the facility floor and reached the groundwater, it could have contaminated water for the continent. Also possible, if the water tanks in the facility basement had not been drained, the molten material reaching that water would have caused a steam explosion blowing even more radioactive materials into the atmosphere and beyond the containment area. A regional disaster would have become a global catastrophe.
And in other news, in 2011, a tsunami flooded the Fukushima Daiich Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. Seawater over-topped the seawall, flooding the facility basements where the emergency power generation was located. With pump failures, there were explosions and meltdowns of four of the six reactors. Situated next to the Pacific Ocean, this was ideal for contaminated water finding its way into the ocean. For a repeat performance, a 2015 tsunami swept away loads of contaminated soil and water from the facility site, compounding the destruction.
These are the facts as I understand them. A lot of deadly possibles. Nothing like this, of man-made origins, with the exception of world wars, has put the planet on a path for dire consequences.
Thankfully there is plastic. The buzzword of the 1960s, the chemistry marvel for better living, and now, potentially the killer of life. What? How can a consumer product in every home and business threaten our existence? Besides clogging landfills, plastic is choking the oceans. Slow to degrade, it hangs around after its use.
Ingested by marine life, it also decomposes enough to put microplastic particles into the air and into the water, where it enters the ecosystem that feeds humans and in the air we breathe. Plastic is found in the deepest valleys of the ocean and the polar icecaps. It is everywhere. Plastic markets itself around the planet now, it doesn’t need us.
Digging coal, as a campaign slogan, might as well be, digging our grave. We’re clinging to fossil fuels because the industries that gather vast profits fund enough candidates that keep policies that support these industries. Turning our backs on renewal energy because of voodoo or other acknowledgements show their financial ties to fossil fuel industries.
Climate change, as a phenomenon, is a time bomb, set in motion since the industrial revolution. Whatever the fail safe marker date, I believe the experts are right, at some point in the near future, our fate will be sealed. Politicians argue, scientists debate, the planet cries. If you care about the planet your grandkids and great-grandkids will live in, support a greener agenda.
In 1973, a quirky science fiction film called Soylent Green, predicted a dire future for humans. The film met with a mix of reactions, plausible or malarkey, but it got people talking. In the film, the new society was the result of pollution and economic disruption, resulting in societal and moral breakdown. Since the early 1970s, population control and responsible environmental management made great progress, and in recent years, some of that improvement has been erased. As population growth eased overall, in developing countries it did not. I wouldn’t count China as a developing country, but they slowed population growth with restrictions on childbirth. In countries where industrialization and economic growth occurred, especially China, pollution has soared. Environmental regulations, and leadership by some responsible companies helped reduce waste, protect the air and water, and restrict risky development practices. In the past three years, regulations have been rolled back, public lands opened for drilling and pipelines, protected areas and wildlife are now unprotected, and penalties for violating laws have been relaxed to a slap on the wrist. Renewable energy is disdained in favor of fossil fuels. All in the name of business, or more aptly, greed.
Deforestation is reducing millions of square miles of forests, mainly in places like South America, Asia and Africa. Making way for agriculture, mining and other industries, these ecosystems are gone forever. Much of the planet’s fresh water comes from forested watersheds. Trees absorb harmful gases in the atmosphere. These watersheds contain thousands of specifies of life. Deforestation destroys the mechanisms that support life on this planet. According to National Geographic, more than 80,000 fires burned in the Amazon last year, fires to mainly clear land.
The world’s bee population is on the decline. Climate change and deforestation are contributors but chemical uses, mainly pesticides are blamed. Bees and other pollinators are critical in more than a third of the world’s crop production and play a big role in the plant-derived medicines. Pollination declines impact the availability of vitamin A. Studies have found insect populations around the world have declined 50 to 70 percent.
Oceans host 80 percent of the planet’s biodiversity. Oceans absorb about a quarter of the man-made carbon emissions, acidifying them at an alarming rate. As the acid rises, calcium carbonate, used to construct shells, coral and skeletons, decreases. Acidification also leads to bleaching of coral reefs. Pollution, plastic, oil leaks from drilling are man-made activities threatening ocean life and human life.
The dead zone, not the Stephen King novel, but a massive blooms of excess nutrient pollution from agriculture and urban life that annually appears in the Gulf of Mexico. Called a hypoxic zone, it causes a massive growth of algae, which eventually dies, then sinks to the bottom and decomposes in the water. The sudden loss of oxygen in the water, and the release of deadly toxins cannot support marine life, which dies or leaves the area.
The Two-Minute Warning
We are engaged in a race against time, on several fronts. A recently released report said the 2010s were the hottest decade ever measured on Earth. Fukushima happened during the decade. Thankfully, nuclear accidents are not every day, or we would all have radiation sunburns. Have you noticed the frequency and escalating nature of fires? Ask the residents of Paradise, California or Australia. Floods from abnormal rainfall that surge beyond containment structures, in river basins like the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. According to records, 2019 was the wettest year. Floods from tropical storms like Imelda and Hurricane Dorian are now a frequent occurrence. Famine has put 11 percent of the world’s population on the verge of starvation. War-torn and drought conditions impact countries like the Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. But nutrition is a problem in many developed countries. Thirty-six million Americans are on food stamps (now called SNAP), although 700,000 people are being trimmed from the program. Sorry.
UN Climate Action Summit Report (Sept. 2019): The earth’s temperature “is currently estimated to be 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial (1850-1900) times and 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 2011-2015,” the report establishes, according to data from the World Meteorological Organization. The report also found that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel use continue to grow by more than 1% annually, and grew by 2% in 2018, reaching a new high. – courtesy of Global Citizen.
So where are we? Many factors but fossil fuels and the effects of industrialization urbanization are destroying the environment. We have a demand for energy and natural resources, world economies and national defenses depend on it, stricter regulations conflict with business and profits. When the world becomes divided by the haves and the rest, governments will collapse, there will be strife and escalating violence. Instead of government, corporate interests and the wealthy will rule. If you look closely, that is already happening. Resources, water and food supplies will become scarce, but only for those without money. Without food, we will look for alternative sources. Soylent Green may then feel like a documentary.
Would you like a fusion daiquiri with your Soylent Green?