Point of no return… Are we there yet?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Times will feature staff editorials in the coming weeks tackling environmental issues facing the world today, and potential solutions using some unusual, if not controversial, thinking.

We all know Earth is allegedly the only known planet in the universe (at this point in history) with all the necessities for life. Not only the beauty of plant life, animals and birds, the bees and the little fishes of the sea, but this planet contains a wonder of the universe — mankind. We are supposedly capable of intelligent thought and can manipulate the environment because of opposable thumbs and that makes us superior.

Earth, this planet, is our collective mother. She gives us her all, and we have been taking advantage of her resources to the point we are wasting more everyday than this planet can recreate.

Think of it this way: The air we inhale is about 20-percent oxygen, and once exhaled it is about 15-percent oxygen, so about 5-percent of the volume of Earth’s air is consumed in each breath and converted to carbon dioxide.

A typical healthy human needs about 50 liters of oxygen per hour. (In the case of an out-of-shape person, who knows how much huffing and puffing depletes the oxygen levels per hour.)

A typical houseplant leaf produces about 5 milliliters of oxygen per hour, a little more when it is growing and even less when carbon dioxide levels are higher. That houseplant only makes 120 ml a day, and it takes somewhere around 10 houseplants at optimum performance to create oxygen for one human.

Plants outnumber humans, at least right now, so we’re doing OK with 7.5 billion people right?

The US Census Bureau keeps the records, and 200 years ago the population reached the milestone of one billion, and ever since the industrial revolution began it has created an ever-increasing population rate. In the 20th century alone the population of the world went from 1.65 billion to more than six billion.

Then take into consideration how all of man’s technology has damaged the Earth; oil spills, burning fossil fuels, mountains of garbage, miles and miles of asphalt jungles in cities removed precious foliage this planet had relied upon for millennia to maintain a balance to help create life as we know it.

The debate about global warming can rage on, but that doesn’t change the fact that something is wrong around the globe: Droughts from extreme temperatures, storms out of control, polar ice caps melting and so on… It’s scary to think about, and maybe that’s why no one can really talk about the issues and implement policies to change things.

Many people can’t believe the Earth is approximately 4.543 billion years old, but it only took the modern-day humans and the industrial revolution about 200 years to jeopardize all life on this planet.

That’s a long stretch to get to get to a cosmic point.

Let’s face it: Humanity, in its rush to be its own god, has made a mess of this world.

We, as the dominant species on this planet, should understand our responsibility as good stewards of our mother, our home and help maintain this planet for the future generations of children and other life forms that also call this planet home.