The bubbling life form that manifested itself as a cell kick started a life changing history for the earth and as much as it signalled the beginning of a whole new different phase, it was like a inadvertent press of the self destruct button. It only took 194,000 years for civilization to start after the modern homo sapiens' evolution. It was only a matter of time before civilization disrupted the natural order of things, the seamless - or at least near seamless - flow of life. Things started to unfold more rapidly than ever and it everything we have done has led us to this very point we are now. Is civilization our own undoing or a necessary evil?
The topic 'Climate change' gradually came into being. We could say it started to garner attention 30 years ago. Alot of underlying factors came to spotlight and the progressive worrying change caused by humans and their proclivity for tech. The damage caused by heat trapping fossil fuels, which was accelerated with human's insatiable need for energy once they had a taste for it. The need to power homes, cars, run businesses which could now pass as an addiction became the genesis of the problem.
With little knowledge then on the adverse consequences, we started off really bad. Taking our share off everything without considering the kickbacks. We could as well say the problem originated from the government because we should have had extremely strict laws on these things before making the art open to all and sundry. Enough publicity in the early stages could also have gone a long way in curbing menaces of careless enthusiasts and reducing the long term effects of the then "new game".
What is the inadvertent role of humans in this?
Let's shun our penchant for energy and our direct involvement in the drastic changes to nature and talk about the population. Our population has grown significantly over the years. Just 30 years ago, we were 2 billion and now we have 7.7 billion people and counting. That's a substantial 285% change. The rate at which humans are populating the earth is alarming to say the least. Some countries like China almost account for more than 70 percent of the world's population then, that alone is gripping. If the status quo continues may take a while but at the end of it, we may start to see the effects of over populating the earth.
Although China has introduced a one child policy that is expected to at least reduce the staggering birth rate, it may not do much to bring down the 4.3 births per second which amounts to 18.2 births per 1000 population. Reason being that not everybody will be expected to comply, definitely there are alot of people who are not taking the law seriously and its becoming more like "one boy per family policy". Secondly, it's just China. Come to Africa, it's more like a pissing contest. You'll see families with as much children as the population of some stand-alone villages. Birth control, family planning, all gone down the drain. And the worst part is, the resources to manage the situation is not there.
India is another country with alarming population with a number of 1.3bn and according to predictions, looks set to overtake China by 2027 as the world's most populous country. And by 2050 World population is estimated to be over 10bn. The reason why this has serious impact on climate change is because because the presence of humans births inherent needs and with the advent of technology, we have a new focus point, we know where to look to satisfy our desire for energy and there's no true working system in place to curb our excesses.
What have we done so far?
Why do we have to clear the forests? Like I have stated earlier, human population is the genesis of all the problem. Come to think of it, we have 3 times more water space than land and land is already being stretched to the limits. It means that humans are going to try to cover every available space possible without giving much thought to the consequences. From building homes to communities, these require vast land space to create a working community with all the necessary 'evils', leaving no choice but to clear the forest area. Apart from that, science and technology has really given the trees another life purpose, different from what nature originally intended. Talk of the need for trees for furnitures, fuel, housing, art, musical instruments, shelter, decorations... They are just too much to enumerate and as much as being able to exploit them is a good thing, there are a lot of perks to it.
Trees, apart from complementing the scenery with natural green beauty, they actually release oxygen for human use. Thankfully, and in contrast, they also absorb CO² to the advantage of humans. Before civilization, there could only be said to be only two major sources of CO², release from humans and probably burning of plants. Plants are carbon sinks that absorb incredible amount of carbon but once they die and decay, they release all their carbon back into the atmosphere. Burning of land also release fossil fuels which have alot more stable carbon sinks than trees leads to an inevitable release of large amounts of carbon from dead and decayed trees - that can in fact date back to millions of years ago - back into the atmosphere. Right now, there are humongous amounts of carbon in the atmosphere more than the trees can absorb.
When the quality of land depreciates, it loses its ability to hold carbon. But hey! Land is the largest terrestrial carbon sink and why is that so? it comprises decayed animals, plants, microbial and fungi since the inception of the earth which have accumulated overtime. They - in fact - store more carbon that the earth's biomass and atmosphere combined. Like it has been explained earlier, land is the largest contributor to climate change since two thirds of land's carbon store has been lost since 19th century.
- Land Pollution
Land degradation and pollution are in many ways the same. It basically is anything done to the soil that has damning consequences. We can talk about sewage, mining, nuclear waste, and so on. They all inhibit the soils productive capability and inevitably lead to land degradation overtime. Mining for instance - apart from the well known fact that it is a corner stone for development in many advanced countries - they are one of the greatest contributors to the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Could there be any way mining can be approached differently while making sure that these slow poisons are not released into the air? Is there?
Like I stated earlier, two thirds of the earth is covered by water and less than 10% is unexplored. Alot of things constitute the water space. Microbial life, fungi, microorganisms, aquatic animals that all work in synchrony to create a biotic ecosystem. It only went wrong when industries and factories found solace in the depth of the waters for the dumping of their industrial waste and chemical residues and that has disrupted the order of things. Irreversible damage to freshwater systems have huge blow backs on the ecosystem and have negatively impacted the climate o'er the years.
We have seen increasing spate of natural disasters in the last 10 years. From tsunami that wiped out some cities to hurricanes that lasted for days. Alot of countries are on high alert due to the frequent occurrences. In the U.S alone, over the last 10 years, we have seen hurricanes and wild fires that cost close to $20bn dollars to repair the damages but they can only do that as much as they can, lives taken cannot be restored. Canada has also been prone to wildfires but was not always as frequent as what we have now. They had a respite of 50 years before it resurfaced in 2003 and has been ever constant. In fact, Canada right now are on a five-year wild fire streak. Damming statistics to say.
Tsunami which is a humongous series of waves caused by displacement of a large amount of water due to underwater eruption or earthquakes top the charts of the most devastating natural disasters. Not only do they destroy everything they touch, they also wipe off everything. Buildings, cars, people, anything in their way and they don't leave much behind, just rumbles and piles of dirt. The deadliest of all time occurred in 2004 during the Indian ocean tsunami. A terrible event which shook the world. Over 200,000 people were killed in fourteen countries, that is how bad it can get. From 2013- 2018 we have also seen series of tsunamis across different countries and they all contribute to the worrying trend of climate change.
Should we talk about heat wave? A consequence of global warming? Ozone layer depletion? It is like a replica of hell on earth when the temperature rises above the accustomed threshold and the rays from sun start to burn like an acid spill. A consequence of the athopogenic activities that include emission of greenhouse gases. Heat waves are more frequent than the rest and they maybe the ones with the least death toll but that doesn't mean they don't cause extreme discomfort to many. Heat waves also have a very high chance of leading to Bush fires they are like two destructive agents working in tandem with one another. It has been predicted that future heat waves will last longer, more brutal with extreme consequences.
- What it means to me?
Looking at it, I don't think anyone is his/her right frame of mind will be happy about it. Just like everyone else, it's depressing. We as the next generation are going to bear the brunt the most because with the status quo, it may only get worse. It may get in the way of a prospective and hassle free future to us all. Natural disasters could disrupt global events and create an air of uncertainty. My worst fear is cities being submerged and buried under water like the legendary city of Atlantic. I also fear a gloomy global community in the future where every one is looking over the shoulder, just like the the case of terrorism. I fear a chaotic future of death and destruction.
THE POLITICAL FACTOR
Believe me, politicians are a lot of things. There's a whole lot of dirt that goes on behind the scenes than what is being portrayed on camera. There are a lot of monstrosity hiding behind the corporate wears and there have been a lot of happenings that have fueled alot of conspiracies. That is why we have a lot of theoretical assertions, claims and rumours about the government and why those who spearhead it have substantial amount of followers. While I believe some of them are true, I don't think the government has a hand in this. They'd be shooting themselves in the foot if they weaponize natural disasters. Nature doesn't marginalize. Both the rich, poor, learned, illiterate, politicians, masses will all drink from the same cup.
Who are those responsible for it?
Non-chalancy on the part of major tech industries and the people. It is not like people have not seen the consequences of all these, they actually have but still, nobody is willing to step up and be that little spark that illuminates the impending danger for all to see and set the pace for others to adopt corrective measure. You will still see that indiscriminate release of fossil fuels
into the environment. There will still be some industries that just dump their chemical waste without caution. Maybe they think to themselves that;
I'm just one person/industry, I can't really make a difference.
It is when we have millions of people/industries thinking that way that you'll know how significant an action could be.
What can be done?
Truth be told, more awareness needs to be created. How neck deep we really are in this mess is less emphasized. The government needs to impose sanctions on industries that can actually do better than emitting these dangerous gases. Although there are some presidents like Donald Trump who doesn't give a wee bit of his time to climate change discussions, coalitions and support. Technology should do better and focus on inventing safer means of running businesses without having to toe the detrimental path. We should go back to the drawing board and reshuffle our cards, we have some less explored sources of energy like hydro and solar. If there is adequate support in terms of funding to initiate intensive researches into these fields, they will go a long way in getting us a substitute and get us from the powder keg we've been carelessly sitting on all along.
The scary thing about science and technology is that man may just be the one to put an end to this planet with his inventions and discoveries. - nairaland