Hundreds of years ago, the fish in our oceans were so plentiful that sailors would joke that they could walk upon the surface of the water. Rich ecosystems stretched to every corner of the earth, and life flourished in miraculous ways, from the highest mountains to the dimmest caverns. Unfortunately, a blight has afflicted our planet, rendering nature’s supreme dominance and beauty a feature of the past. If it continues at its current pace, the blight known as humanity will wreck more devastation upon the biosphere than any meteor or natural disaster possibly could.
Human activities have surpassed a harrowing threshold, now impacting more than half of the land surface of the planet. In nearly every country, forests experienced a net loss in biodiversity. Distressing research has found that if present trends continue, life on earth will enter another mass extinction. This extinction will not be caused by natural phenomena like nearly every extinction in the past, but for the first time since the evolution of photosynthesis, its source will be organic. The anthropomorphic extinction has already claimed countless species, reducing biodiversity to such a degree that 5-10 million years of evolution will be required to restore it. According to some estimates, 30% of all plant and animal life is threatened by extinction in the next hundred years.
Due to human activities, storms have begun to intensify, devastating human settlements and the environment. The small island nation of Tuvalu recently announced that rising sea levels will force them to abandon their country. In the Philippines, an unprecedented typhoon recently struck the island of Mindanao, killing hundreds and leaving thousands homeless. A delegate at the climate talks in Doha, Naderev Sano, pleaded to the world,
“As we sit here in these negotiations, even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising. There is massive and widespread devastation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered without homes. And the ordeal is far from over, as typhoon Bopha has regained some strength as it approaches another populated area in the western part of the Philippines.
“Madam chair, I speak on behalf of 100 million Filipinos, a quarter of a million of whom are eeking out a living working here in Qatar. And I am making an urgent appeal, not as a negotiator, not as a leader of my delegation, but as a Filipino …”
“I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.
“I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around. Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”
I sincerely hope that Mr. Sano’s passionate appeal sways the minds of some of the world’s leaders. The urgency to invoke change mounts by the year; the World Bank, one of the most reputable sources worldwide, recently predicted that our planet will warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, provoking massive and abrupt shifts in the earth’s climate.
Slowly but surely, humanity is destroying the planet that it calls home. If we continue down this path, the most depressing aspect of our demise will be the fact that we had the capability of preventing it. We currently have the technology to solve this issue, but we lack the foresight to utilize it. I hope that our species will remove the blindfold of ignorance from its eyes and finally begin to act in the best interests of its future, and the future of all it holds dear.