We all live on the one planet.

Industry, science and politics throughout the world can act as a single entity to preserve and enhance our mutual environment.


Protecting Our Environment

What protection will the world's environment need in the future?

Earth’s environment consists of all the natural elements and living beings that combine to make life possible on earth. Though human beings are as natural as any other animal species, their activities are deemed not natural for the purpose of this definition. Therefore, as it is defined, one of the biggest threats to the environment is human activity itself. However, not every human activity damages the environment – in fact, by taking the right steps we can actually protect the environment from the many threats it faces.

One of the biggest threats to the environment is global warming, which is the phenomenon of rise in global temperatures over the last two centuries. According to the current scientific understanding of this phenomenon, its most likely cause is the rise in the emissions of greenhouse gases. Deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels such as oil are the primary producers and drivers of the increase in greenhouse gases, and hence the main cause of global warming. Since the phenomenon was first described in the 1980s, the international community has recognized the severity of the threat and started to come together and find solutions to this problem.

In 2005, most developed countries signed the Kyoto Protocol into effect, which put limits on the gaseous and other industrial emissions of these countries. However, the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, the Unites States, rejected the Kyoto protocol because, according to its then president, the protocol would negatively affect the U.S. economy. One of the biggest challenges that we face, that of global warming, requires the coming together of developed and developing counties so that they can together cut the emission of greenhouse gases.

Deforestation is another threat to the natural environment, driven by an increase in human population as well as an increase in per capita human consumption. The loss of every acre of forest reduces the amount of living space for millions of animal and plant species that thrive in the wild. With the reduction in forest cover, we are endangering many species, while slowly killing many others.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is a program started by the United Nations in 1995 that seeks to limit deforestation as well as forest degradation. However, we need to make more serious attempt at reducing the ongoing deforestation. At the current rates, scientists estimate that the world will see the last of its rainforests in mid-21st century.

An asteroid, comet or any other celestial body hitting the earth can also damage the earth’s environment drastically. Such an event is known by the term “impact event”, and though improbable, it remains a possibility. In known history, one such event occurred in Tunguska, Russia in 1908, when an object with an estimated diameter of 50 meters hit earth and devastated its impact area, destroying approximately 80 million trees.

To save the earth from such an event, we would need to stop the asteroid or the comet before it hit the earth. Hitting the object hurtling towards the earth with a counterweight, or destroying it using a nuclear or other such explosion are some of the possibilities that scientists have proposed for this problem. With the accomplishments of the space program behind us, we can safely say that humans have the capability to overcome any such threat.

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