Surce – UN Environment
The age of our planet is estimated to be 4.5 billion years, of which human beings have only existed for two lakh years. This tenure is not even 0.5% of the total age of the earth. But, we have had a far greater impact on our planet’s health, in comparison to many other species. The fact is that the world’s 7.8 billion human population represents just 0.01% of all the living organisms on the earth. Plants have a share of 82% of all living beings. Bacteria a major life form is 13% of everything.
All other creatures from insects to fungi, fish to animals including human beings make up just 5% of the total world’s biomass. The farmed poultry today make up 70% of all the birds on the planet, with just 30% being wild. The picture is starker for mammals. 60% of mammals on earth are livestock (mostly cattle and pigs). 36% are human and just 4% are wild animals.
Let’s see what we have done with the planet earth. Humans have directly altered at least 70% of the earth’s land, mainly for agriculture and keeping animals. The consequence is deforestation, degradation of land and soil, loss of biodiversity and increase in pollution, which has the biggest impact on land and freshwater ecosystem. About 77% of rivers that are longer than 1000 km, no longer flow freely from source to sea. 66% of the ocean surface has been affected because of overfishing and runoff from agriculture and plastic pollution. Live coral cover on reefs has been halved in the last 150 years. The number of alien species (species found outside the natural range) has significantly risen. Fewer varieties of plants and animals are being preserved due to standardization in farming practices. Certain things have a direct impact on nature like the dumping of waste into rivers and the oceans.
The ecosystem to the real fabric of life on which the existence of all depends is declining rapidly because of human actions. Human pressure on nature has significantly soared since 1970. We have been consuming more and more natural resources to meet our ever-increasing requirements, not only in terms of volumes but rather in terms of varieties also. It has converted requirements into lust, which has no end. As per a report, if we consider the available earth’s natural resources, with per capita consumption of United States, we need five piles of earth to meet their requirements. Over the last fifty years, nature’s capacity to support us has plummeted. Air and water quality are declining, quality of soil is depleting, crops are short of pollinators and coasts are less protected from storms. We are changing the real fabric of nature at a fast pace and on a global scale.
Requirements of humans have been continuously changing fast. Human social life has radically altered from the initial need to gather resources to live and reproduce. The need for food, water, and shelter is biological. The lack of any one of these will result in death. But human society has changed now. The biological necessity is the same. But we have created and enhanced our energy needs exorbitantly for controlling the urban climate, for road, railway, and air commutation, and communication purposes. Side by side, society has learned to develop a way to transport current resources into the future for use in the future.
And that is money. You can ensure and store your long-term future requirements with this. It has triggered unhealthy competition. That’s why every individual to organizations and corporates to countries are only indulged in making money. Today the developments of countries are compared by the comparison of GDPs only. Unfortunately, this farcical truth has become the reality and benchmark fact of development of the humanity.
In the name of this development, dangerous competition amongst the powerful countries is a regular phenomenon. Trading overseas has become a symbol of this development, which has increased by more than 1000%, since the start of the post-industrial era. The extraction of living material from nature has risen by more than 250%. The ever-growing gap between demand and supply indicates that people are insensitive to the destruction of nature caused by an increase in consumption.
The critical and precious resources important to humans have changed. It’s not limited to food to get and keep strength to procreate. Our energy requirements have been growing considerably. Human has grown clever where he has learned to grow food, money to buy food, deep freezers to store food and methods such as ships and caravans to carry food, and military conquest to control food and energy resources. Eventually, the food is not the result desired, the means to end becomes the end itself. In recent times, in addition to food, we have seen there’s a lot of pressure on our natural resources to meet our ever-increasing requirements of fossil, fuel.
In conclusion, this is critical and directly related to our existence. For that, we must focus on regenerating and restoring high carbon ecosystems, such as forests and wetlands. The need for food could be met by changing dietary choices, zeroing waste, and reusing crop residues completely. Switching to clean energy is an important step, which will help from destroying a vast amount of land and seascape. Combating the loss of the ecosystem is going to be challenging and complex. It requires a common and cumulative approach. It means planning and decisively acting, about, how different components of the problem, such as NATURE, SOCIETY, POLITICS, and SOCIOECONOMIC all interact together. Because we are not left with “much time to waste”.