Things you can do to care for Mother Earth this year
Greetings to those who made it to 2015! You are not alone. In fact, there are 7 billion people living on Earth with a new birth every 15 seconds in America. Because it’s the beginning of a new year, it’s time for contemplating the future.
What are the paths in 2015 to assure quality of life for humans, and in the big scheme of species and planetary existence? In my January 2014 column, I looked at this same question. Those words provide a good framework for helping determine what to do individually and collectively this year, too:
Because all life on Earth depends on a suitable habitat and a healthy ecosystem, what can be done to guarantee sustainability now and in the future? Keep in mind four other things as you ponder: 1) As population increases there is growing demand on a resource-constrained planet. 2) We live on a planet with ever-changing climate patterns (whether our fault or not) and that fact requires adaptation for species survival. 3) The most biodiverse ecosystem is strongest. 4) Energy is required for life (ultimate source is sun).
Try this: On a round piece of paper, draw a circle. That’s you. Now draw another, then double and double until no other circles can fit. That’s the Earth and our growing population. At some point Earth’s carrying capacity can no longer support all humans, much less the biodiversity of life in the ecosystem that sustains us.
That’s what’s happening now. We are crowding out wildlife due to our growing demands for energy and space. Scientists are calling this the sixth mass extinction and it is driven by over-population and over-consumption. It contributes to our environmental problems, including climate change, habitat loss, ocean acidification and resource depletion. In our own human interests, we must share the planet!
The Coalition for Endangered Species issued Vanishing: Ten American Species Our Children May Never See. The ones listed we can see in Tennessee are the monarch butterfly (a 90 percent depletion) and the little brown bat. Thirty percent of all frogs and most bumblebee species are threatened, too. The polar bear, beloved by children, made the list.
The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us. — E.O. Wilson, Biophilia
Can we envision a planet where the human species is in harmony with the natural interdependent web of life supporting all life? It is vital that we do. There are numerous possibilities, but we must rethink our present cultural system at all levels. Time is of the essence. Many actions can make our air and water cleaner and preserve space for wildlife. For example, TVA is already closing coal-fired power plants and the solar industry was the fastest growing in Tennessee.
Industry magnates may not yet know it, but we are moving beyond fossil and nuclear fuels as energy sources. With some ingenuity, we can reject the Keystone pipeline or fracking for energy. We can slow climate disruption by leaving fossil and nuclear fuels in the dust and accelerate carbon capture primarily through global reforestation. The 2015 climate change talks will be in Paris.
How you can help make the planet better:
- Share space.
- Plant native trees.
- Use less energy.
- Eliminate paving, save more greenspace
- Plant milkweed for monarchs.
- Install bat houses.
- Reduce meat consumption.
- Buy local products, recycle.
- Refuse plastic bags; use tote bags.
- Walk and/or bike more.
- Drive highest-mileage car possible.
- Support local farmers markets.
- Garden without pesticides.
- Empower women for population control.
- Vote for candidates with positive environmental platforms.