The Environment

Photo: Anna Henly. Source: www.annahenly.com

Photo: Anna Henly. Source: www.annahenly.com

All the predictions have materialized and there is no escaping the realization that the face of the world is changing. The Earth is evolving and going through natural cycles, but it is more so apparent that the growth of population and our living habits are influencing this change.

There are incredible places and species that we need to protect and preserve. Instead, we live day-to-day, so indulgently, playing a key part in aggravating the nature and its normal cycles, and are now witnessing it rebelling, proving that it can no longer sustain our activities.

We have compromised personal health and we have jeopardized the strength and wellness of our ecosystem with our senseless and out of control use of finite resources.

In the end, only a fraction of us are aware how much we are giving up for our lifestyles because we focus on what we’ve gained – comfort, convenience, simplicity, and extravagance. In a world that will increasingly be comfortable only in artificial surroundings, as we witness it becoming lifeless.

 

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Photo: Piet Flour. Source: 121clicks.com

The average 2 degrees Centigrade of predicted warming, that we probably won’t feel, still means a lot: the slight change will cause thermal expansion, causing the swelling of the water, and resulting in the rise in sea levels. Then, the same increase in temperature will lead to glacier and ice land masses to melt.

The rise in ocean levels is a threat to the natural and physical features, as well as habitats that are dependent on normal environmental cycles.

The changes in ocean elements, such as temperature, salinity, pH levels (acidification is a result of climate change) and currents is affecting the distribution and abundance of marine life. The same is true for other terrestrial habitats that are changing as a result of pollution, droughts, deforestation, etc.

Climate change is not even a question of future: it’s already happening, the change is already taking place

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Photo: Marsel van Oosten. Source: 1x.com

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OVER-CONSUMPTION

There is an immense environmental and economic toll from accumulating mass-produced goods – in the extent of production and consumption, as well as a heavy cost to us – measured by the time and effort spent investing into these things and using/consuming them.

The scale of modern life’s over-consumption has enabled an over-class to exist, displaying influenza and obesity.

However, once again both of these claims are controversial, with the latter being correlated to other factors more so that over-consumption.

In the long term, these effects can lead to increased conflict over dwindling resources and, in the worse case, a Malthusian catastrophe. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has said ‘It would take 1.5 Earths to sustain our present level of consumption. Environmentally, the world is in an overshoot mode.’

Photo: Richard Peters. Source: 121clicks.com

Photo: Richard Peters. Source: 121clicks.com

Somewhere along the way, when enough of us reduce the scale of consumption and restore life more to a human sense of proportion and perspective, we will help the planet balance out between its capacity and our needs.

But right now we are a society that’s consuming much more than it can digest.

A fundamental effect of over-consumption is a reduction in the planet’s carrying capacity. Excessive unsustainable consumption will exceed the long-term carrying capacity of its environment (ecological overshoot) and subsequent resource depletion, environmental degradation and reduced ecological health.

The aim of conscious consumerism is to encourage the public to be more aware of the environmental impact of their consumption patterns and to encourage manufacturers and retailers to provide ‘environmentally friendly’ alternatives, with the idea that businesses will respond more readily and creatively to positive market signals.

The aim of ethical consumerism is about buying products that do not harm or exploit the environment, people and animals.

Sustainable consumption means consuming (and manufacturing) just as much as we need, using an intended portion of natural resources. However, what we are doing now is using up our quota, as well as tapping into the future rations, while hoping that they will renew themselves in time for the future generations’ intended use.

Not only awareness and understanding, but also willingness on the part of the consumer of goods and services, as well as providers of goods are services, means that the preservation of finite earth resources can be sustainable.

Our choices – consumer choices – have a significant impact on the environment.

Photo: Kellie Reifstenzel. Source: NG Traveler Photo Contest

Photo: Kellie Reifstenzel. Source: NG Traveler Photo Contest

 

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WASTE

Statistics say that 32% of all food produced for consumption or bought is wasted. So, of the weekly grocery shopping that you do, about 2.5 days’ worth of food is garbage by the end of the week!

We have more than enough, and so we waste.

It’s a choice. We all choose to do or not do something. Alternatively, it’s so easy to not pay attention and not care. It’s easy and it’s cowardly.

More and more cities are becoming conscious and functional recyclers, and lately they have started offering organic waste disposal, so it is up to us to make it a habit of sorting waste properly.

But that’s the afterthought. Because we still produce waste.

Photo: Unknown. Source: blogs.discovery.com

Photo: Unknown. Source: blogs.discovery.com

“The FAO estimates that a third of global food production is lost or wasted; that’s 1.3 billion tonnes each year.

The amount of food wasted by consumers in industrialized countries is almost equal to the net amount produced on the whole in the sub-Saharan Africa.
Overall, on a per-capita basis, much more food is wasted in the industrialized world than in developing countries.

An FAO report estimates that the per capita food waste by consumers in Europe and North America is 95-115 kg/year, while this figure in Sub-Saharan Africa and South/Southeast Asia is only 6-11 kg/year.

Apart from the humanitarian issue, food waste, simply stated, means a waste of natural resources.

From the soil, water, farm inputs, to fossil fuels – all the resources that had gone into the food production also get squandered.”

We don’t think about waste – and waste we do – because we have more than enough food, and we can get it anytime we want.

Our focus must be on reduced consumption.
On necessities.
On eliminating our needs for the superfluous products.
And on being less wasteful..

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Photo: Eric Hosking. Source: www.erichoskingtrust.com

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THE UNITED STATES

United States uses double the resources that it produces. United States pulls from other countries to produce the goods for its population to consume. The goods are not just simple perishables like food, energy, and light building materials. United States also consumes the most clothing items, materials, plastics, electronics, and even health hazardous chemicals.

Here are a few examples of over consumption in the United States: According to Environmental Defence, “Americans own 30% of the world’s vehicles, but emit nearly half of the world’s vehicle CO2 emissions. We drive more and our cars are generally less efficient”. Another interesting example is with the most abundant resource on Earth: “the average North American uses 400 litres of water every day. The average person in the developing world uses 10 litres of water every day for their drinking, washing and cooking”

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Photo: Unknown. Source: National Geographic’s Best Photos of 2009

MEAT

Our individual eating habits on the environment and carbon emissions matter. Statistics show that one person switching from a carnivore to a vegan diet can reduce CO2 emissions by 1.5 tons per year — TONS!

The problem is not only our individual choices – although it’s true that most people decide to just turn the other way and not make that choice. And, unfortunately, it isn’t incredible statistics such as these that can make them change their mind.

A lot of people don’t believe that individual choices matter all that much, but mainly, they are not willing to give up their personal gratification for a greater cause. In fact, not even for their own personal health & benefit!

That’s the kind of gluttonous, overindulgent society we live in..

The problem also lies with the meat industry, which is relentless and so so powerful that it won’t allow meat consumption to decline. How? Well, it’s simply lucrative – an industry that is valued at billions of dollars, that employs millions of people, and a trade that they are dependent on for their livelihood, which is to say that their personal priorities and earnings are weighed against the environment.

By eating less meat our footprint is smaller, the pollution is less impacted, the money is saved, we are healthier, and bound to live longer.

Do it for your health, for the pocket book, for the environment and the animals.

Photo: Lenette Newell. Source: cuded.com

Photo: Lenette Newell. Source: cuded.com

It is, indeed, unrealistic to wish for everyone to become a vegetarian, let alone vegan, so small, progressive changes will have to do for now: if all of us ate half as much meat, it would be like half of us are already vegetarians.

And it’s not just meat.

Twenty five years ago most food we ate was fresh and locally grown. Now, it is mainly processed, full of sorts of additives, ingredients and stimulants that cause us to spin in confusion.

The problem is not only in the food we eat. The problem also lies in mass manufacture. Marketing and production are creating unnatural demand. The industry is fueling our demand.

Individual choices DO matter. Make yours a positive one.

Only after we tackle the fundamental problem of the state of our mental and physical addictions – and consumption in general – can we achieve our principles and improve social morale.

The solution is quite simple: reducing overall consumption, switching to natural, whole, unprocessed foods straight from the Earth, and physically moving more.

Where we go from here will not only determine the quality and the length of individual lives but the world as a whole.

Photo: Jasper Doest. Source: popsci.com

Photo: Jasper Doest. Source: popsci.com