38 years ago, as many as 20 million Americans participated in rallies and demonstrations on behalf of the Earth. 38 years ago on this day the first celebration known as Earth Day is celebrated in the United States of America. Today, people around the world observe this day. But not everyone, of course.
But that’s not the point of this post. People talk about saving the Earth and how important this little beautiful blue world needs to be preserved. People talk about loving the environment and the need to preserve them, for the benefits of all that inhabit it. The intention is good and dear – try to make people love the planet Earth, that hopefully they’ll decide to no longer damage this biosphere. That is good. Save something because you love them. But that sort of takes away the attention from the real matter at hand. The Earth does not need saving. We do.
Let’s assume that for the next several decades more and more carbon dioxide is released into the air. Let’s assume that for the next several decades the current and future administration of the United States of America does not commit itself to protecting the environment and continue to have the world’s largest carbon dioxide emission, despite the nation being the birthplace of Earth Day itself. Let’s assume that for the next several decades businesses and organisations all around the world does not give a damn about environment and continue ruining it in the name of profit. Let’s assume for the next several decades business-sponsored individuals continue to publish articles that mislead the public and cast doubt on the real threat of global warming. Let’s assume that for the next several decades we – average person like you and me – continue to live like we are living today, leaving bigger and bigger carbon footprint. Let’s assume that all these happen. Now let’s look at what will happen to the Earth.
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be very high. Global temperature will increase by several degrees, enough to melt a large proportion of the polar ice caps. Sea water level will rise, and ocean salinity at several places will change. As a result, the worldwide ocean current flow which has been steady for a very very long time will be disrupted. Warm seawater will no longer reach certain parts of the world as a result of disrupted worldwide ocean current flow. Certain region in the world will no longer be warmed by this warm ocean current and the wind that results from it, which will probably be North America. Temperature in this area will drop, so much that it snows and ice formed in lakes and oceans. As spots of ice covers the Earth’s surface, most of the sun ray that hits this ice will be reflected back, so less heat reaches the Earth. Temperature will continue to go down. More and more sea and lakes and land will be covered by ice, and more of the sun’s rays will be reflected. Over time, temperature on Earth will continue to drop despite the greenhouse effect, and Earth will finally revert itself back to ice age. All of Earth is covered in ice, a frozen tundra. No man is seen anywhere. Give it some time, perhaps a few thousand years, and the because the Earth’s internals is pretty much lively still, some time later larva will be spit out by volcanic activity and earthquake will break the ice, and after some time Earth will no longer be covered in ice. This is how Earth emerges from the last ice age. By then, the level of carbon dioxide in the air would have dropped, trapped in ice and other still living photosynthetic organisms, and also because there is no more emission of carbon dioxide released by man – no man survives the cold. Plant swill spring out again. Animals that survived the cold – probably fish beneath the sea surface and polar bear, will roam freely again. Slowly, Earth will heal itself and become the beautiful blue world it is once again. But by then, we will no longer be there.
No matter what we do to Earth, it is not easy to completely destroy the Earth – well, at least not now. The ultimate effect of our doings will be the elimination of our own race. By not caring for the environment, we are killing ourselves.
Earth is our home. It shelters us and provide us a place to live and prosper and have kids and do about our everyday things. But it is a living home. If we remain careless and heartless, we’ll crash this home down, eliminating our own shelter and thus, eliminating ourselves – completely. But because it is a living home, over time it’ll regrow and heal itself back again. Earth can pretty much take care of itself from scoundrels like us who foolishly hurts it only to our own destruction. It does not need saving. We do. From ourselves.
Okay, perhaps we won’t all be totally eliminated. Perhaps some time in the future we’ll be able to construct a little biosphere to keep sustaining a number of us in the frozen tundra. That may be likely. But even then, our kids’ kids’ grandkids will no longer be able to run free in the meadows, watch animals grazing, hear the sweet chirping of the birds, eat sweet flesh of prawns and fish as we know it. All they will be living with is a struggle to keep surviving, within a constricted place and constricted activities. Life at that time would not be so pleasant. Because of us, our kids will suffer. Earth does not need saving. Our kids do. From us.
I urge you to take this day to start with a little change, little ways that will help us save ourselves. Give up luxuries that are excessive. Turn down that tap a little bit when you’re washing dishes or bathing, as it takes electricity to process that tap water, and the electricity generation releases carbon dioxide. Switch off those lights and fan in the room when you leave them. Put your computer or laptop on standby when you’re not using it. Carpool to work or use public transport, or better still, ride a bicycle. Vote for local representatives who support protecting the environment. Join any green project in your local community. Educate and inform other people about this, and invite them to join in the effort. Pledge in your heart that you’ll make a change, however little it is. Say to yourself start now, and tomorrow will be better. Remember that the Earth does not need saving. We do.