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
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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