Author of stories for children, Scientist and Philosopher organic cotton products, comments on life, the universe and everything, photography. Conservationist, Environmentalist. Lives on the pale blue dot. Humanity must tread more lightly on the world
Category: Environmental loading
Human products and behaviours that cause a load on the environment.
Sales figures? Growth figures? Money in? No, the figures that really matter. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere plus the other greenhouse gases, the extent of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice and the like. You know the figures that many, if not most businesses don’t give a damn about in the pursuit of profit or their contribution to.
So what is climate change? Very simply it’s you and I and the other 8,000,000,000 human monkeys being normal. It’s us going about our days with very little thought to what we as a total are doing to the very finite dot that we all reside on. Some of us drive cars, some of us live in mud huts, some of us use computers and are paid lots of what we call money for doing so while others walk kilometres a day just to collect dirty water or firewood. Climate change is the cumulative effect of 8,000,000,000 of us doing what we are doing from one instant to the next. And whether we are sitting in an office making wealth on a screen, or building a fossil fuel power plant that will hasten our demise or walking under the baking sun for some dirty water, few of the the collective consciousnesses are considering what will happen when we run out of moments. For instance, here’s an article on the flooding that will occur later this century. So whatever you are doing that is normal and that you are doing at this moment sit back and have a think about what the cumulative effects are of your 8,000,000,000 neighbours of the pale blue dot are before it’s too late.
Whoever we are, whatever we are doing, we very rarely have time to think about what’s happening to everyone else and the rest of the planet at any one given moment. So some of us floss. We’ve been recommended to by our dentist, hygienist, parents, slick marketeers or whoever.
So consider this. Where does that plastic come from and where does it end up in it’s current form or as breakdown products in micro or nano particle size or as what is left after having been incinerated? Perhaps some of the plastic that we are all ingesting comes from the flossing we did the previous day. Wouldn’t that be ironic?
Now consider that there are 8,000,000,000 of us alive today and in all probability still increasing at the rate of 80,000,000 every 365 days. How many of them floss, how many of them can floss, how many of them have clean water to drink let alone floss? We talk about Sustainable Development Goals and they translate to everyone who wants to, being able to floss, but when is that going to happen in reality? As we know glacial reserves of water are melting and are not being replenished as quickly, two thirds of the world’s aquifers are under stress and rainfall patterns are being altered by climate change due to our burning of fossil fuels.
So when you stand in front of the bathroom mirror flossing your teeth, give a little thought to the really bigger picture of the moment and what your small part in it, is playing.
Cashew nuts are very good for us unless you are unfortunate to have an allergy. But like many things that we in first world countries take for granted and pick up every day, only stopping probably to reflect on the price, is what and who is involved in getting the cashews to us.
Looking at the side of the packet which I have never done before tells me that they were grown in Vietnam. So the cashews have covered a lot of food miles probably by burning fossil fuels so there’s the aspect of climate change to consider as well.
We should but few do, ask ourselves what sort of life the farmers or the people working in the growing and packaging of these cashew nuts lead. Are they well paid, well housed and do they have clean running water? Do they go on holiday and do their kids go to school? All normal things that the people buying the packet of cashews take for granted and would complain if they had to live without them. We all need to think about our impact on the planet but also the many invisible people that supply us with food.
Then of course there’s that plastic packaging. Where’s that going to end up? Incinerated, polluting the air we breathe or as nano sized plastic particles that may carry toxins or pathogens into our bodies and possibly end up giving us a serious health issue?
A lot to think about as we are going to have to change whether we like it or not.
Below are a few more photos of food miles and plastic pollution to think about.
First posted 20th January 2021. The situation has not got any better since then.
A computer scientist at The University of Bath in the UK has come up with a way of counting elephants using satellite data, https://phys.org/news/2021-01-elephants-space.html. The sad part of this story is that because of poaching and habitat fragmentation there are only between 40 and 50,000 African elephants left. Habitat fragmentation is down to the number of humans because as I have mentioned before in the 366 days of 2020 the human population increased by 80,000,000, the increase on its own being perhaps 1600 times the entire elephant population in Africa. As we know many countries in Africa have populations in which 50% or approaching 50% are 18 or under years of age. Humanity is not sustainable, we are too many and we take too much.
Returning to normal after the pandemic passes for many people will mean buying sandwiches, takeaway coffees, visiting cafes and restaurants. Most customers will be given one or more pieces of soft bleached paper and few will think anything of it. Just take a minute to consider how many billions of them are given out and how many trees are cut down just because we can’t carry a cotton or hemp based alternative around with us. There’s not just the trees to consider and the disturbed environment from which they are extracted, but to get from a tree to a bleached soft piece of in many cases white piece of paper, involves transportation and large amounts of energy and chemicals. Basically it’s unsustainable and if we all carried a washable natural fibres product it would be so much better for the environment. So think about the future and about making this small change. If we can scale it up to the part of the 7.8 billion people on the planet who use them we will be doing nature a big favour. Perhaps as a way of changing our habits either they should be charged for or simply banned as is happening with plastic bags.
I posted this in January 2021. Since then we have had almost two years of further destruction. Will Lula be able to make a difference? We, in the rest of the world can only hope and wait.
The poster child if you like for trees is the Amazon rainforest. It’s the one that everyone remembers and roughly knows where it is but it is being decimated effectively so that the burgeoning global human population and their waistlines can eat cheap beef burgers. Like many countries in South America, Brazil’s population continues to grow. The Brazilians are mostly descendants of Europeans that have only been there for five or so centuries yet the numbers today are so many that they are destroying the country like locusts in a field of crops. Studies have shown that once enough of the forest has been cut down precipitation will change and the forest will stop producing enough rain to sustain itself. How long before this happens is as usual open to debate and many think that it will be in the 2030s to 2040s. In 2019, an economist called Monica de Bolle, suggested that this might happen early on in the 2020s, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/23/amazon-rainforest-close-to-irreversible-tipping-point. What is known is that the Amazon, a forest of 16,000 different tree species is drying out, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00508-4. It is thought that in the last 100 years that the temperature in the forest has increased between 1 and 1.5oC and that in parts the dry season has increased from 4 to almost 5 months in the last 50 years. In addition there has been three severe droughts between 2005 and 2020 and it is thought that some species of trees are thriving at the expense of those that are dying due to the less moist conditions. At the time of writing even the pandemic appeared not to be able to slow the rate of deforestation in the Amazon.