The years since World War 2 have been dubbed by some as the Great Acceleration. In a single lifetime, people have seen remarkable transformations in transport, communication and other technologies which have brought unprecedented economic changes. Many now enjoy a standard of living they at some point thought impossible. At the same time the earth’s population has nearly tripled. However, these advances come with a great cost to our beloved home; the Earth. The year 2017 started with a dismal proclamation by the scientific community. In January, a group of scientists declared that the world was getting ever close to the worst catastrophe ever.

Old clock
Doomsday clock

They used the symbolic Doomsday clock to illustrate human’s proximity to a global disaster. They moved the clock’s minute hand forward by 30 seconds and set it at two and half minutes to midnight- nearer  to a global catastrophe than at any other time in well over 60 years. ( The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. The first and foremost of these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate changing technologies, emerging biotechnology and cybertechnology that could inflict harm weather by intention or miscalculation). Now the minute hand is much closer to striking midnight.

Whats Leading To Doomsday

Deforestation and Over Fishing

The world’s population is growing at a fast rate and it is resulting in food shortages

 

Deforestated area
Deforestation for resources

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Trees for timber
Trees cut down for timber

To curb this, many once protected areas are being chopped bare to enable the growing of food crops and to meet the demand for raw resources. Some of this land is used for the building of houses, the other as sites for environmental damaging industries. Truth be faced, if the world’s population continues at this rate, there will never be enough space for humans alone without taking into consideration the wild animals.There will never be space for parks, gardens and any other recreational facilities. Evidence shows that crop production has surged by over 300 percent since the early 1970s and raw timber harvest has risen by well over 45 percent. These activities have led to the earth having less than 70 percent of the forest cover it had before the Industrial Revolution Age. There is mass extraction of oil in the marine world has led to dramatic bad effects in it. Human activities have by more than 50 percent badly altered the way of life in these oceans. Before we carry an environment changing activities, it is good to remember that the Earth is not entirely our own but we have co-ownership with plants and animals. They also have a right to live comfortably on their home. Our activities are leading to the extinction of these other co-owners. But it will do us good to note that without them, our earth cannot function well as these organisms play a vital role in its functioning well.Nature plays a critical role in providing humans with energy and medicines. More than two billion people rely on wood to meet their primary energy needs, for example, while an estimated four billion people are dependent on natural medicines for their healthcare. The question to us is; without them ( the plants and animals) by how many seconds or minutes are we moving the doomsday’s  minute hand forward; toward midnight?

Pollution ( Fertilizers, Plastics, Toxic Sludge)

Land Pollution

As the world population grows so does the rate and types of pollution. This is because the consumption rate is also increasing. The use of fertilizers is increasing as the farming sectors are also increasing.Since n the early 1930s fertilizers have helped farmers increase their food production. More amounts of fertilizers are being put into the soil to try and make it produce more than before.The problem is that these fertilizers have negative effects on soils if they are used many times without giving room for the soil to correct itself naturally. Mismanagement of these fertilizers cause harmful effects on the plants and animals including humans.

Polluted land
Plastic polluting land

Garbage dumping is one of the most common cause of land pollution. The amount of garbage per household is ever increasing and these are dumped on land. Areas where these dumping are done release toxic substances in the soil making it unfit for farming and other profitable land uses.

Another cause of land pollution is from mines. Mines usually dump their waste material on land making it inhabitable by wildlife and even humans. Abandoned machinery and mining sites pollute the land. Some of these wastes release gases into the soil which do not promote plant growth. This will lead to the dying of vegetation in those areas. Animal life will also decrease in such areas as there would not be sources of food for them to survive.

 

Water Pollution

Algae blooms in water bodies, is a result of the mismanagement of fertilizers which find their way to these bodies most of the time. This will lead to depletion of oxygen in the surface of the water. An example of this is Lake Chivero in Harare which has an increasing percentage of algae covered surfaces. Plastic pollution in water bodies has been on the rise due to the increase in population. Many people are dumping plastics in water bodies and these plastic prevent sunlight which is greatly needed by aquatic animals and plants to make their food and for survival.

Plastic in water
Plastic in water
A dead fish
A dead orange fish due to water pollution

Even if the plastics are not dumped in rivers, they  usually find their way to water bodies as they are usually dumped on undesignated areas..This is making the water unsafe for human and wildlife consumption. Industries are dumping more and more toxic waste into water ways nowadays. How they’re evading the environmental laws is left for us to wonder. These wastes are increasing the number of water bodies’ “dead zones”. Aquatic life is killed and bad smells are emitted from this. Again we are moving the Doomsday’s clock minute hand by a couple of seconds or minutes.

Atmospheric pollution

A pipe realising gas into atmosphere
Pipe polluting the atmosphere

Technological advances have a positive side to them as much as they have a negative one. Emissions from these technological advanced machinery is harmful to the atmosphere. They release gases which destroy the ozone layer filling it potholes when it should be smooth. This is making the ozone to not efficiently do what it was supposed to do for the earth.

Mining

It is no wonder that we benefit greatly from the mining sector. Jobs are created, beautiful jewellery is made and economies are making millions of dollars from minerals. Despite all that, we are killing and pushing our beautiful home to its limit when we conduct this activity. The environmental effects of mining are not only experienced locally but also regionally and globally. Some of the mining processes affect the atmosphere and thus affecting the quality of life for humans, animals and plants. Nearby water bodies are also affected by these mining activities. This means that we are killing the aquatic life which we depend on for food and medication purposes. The quality of water is disturbed when the mining companies deposit their waste into water bodies. We greatly depend on safe, uncontaminated water for our daily needs. Therefore when it is unsafe, what are we do? The frequency  of volcanoes and earthquakes is also contributed to by mining activities such as dynamite blasts. Yes, maybe the volcano was gonna happen anyway, but when we shake the earth with such a force and many times, we are making it happen today instead of tomorrow. We are pushing toward the limit of our home in a faster way.

Mine site
A mine site

Climate Change

Climate change is caused by the factors mentioned above. To be able to reduce the effects of climate change, we must first solve the problems mentioned above. Because of our activities, our home is now becoming unpredictable. Each day we have a 50/50 chance of experiencing the worst weather conditions ever. We are not able to correctly predict our climate conditions for tomorrow, so how can we prepare? That is why many countries are facing the problem of food shortages because they do not know what to prepare for.

Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are essential to the survival of humans and millions of other living things, by keeping some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting back into space and making Earth livable. But after more than a century and a half of industrialization, deforestation, and large scale agriculture, quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen to record levels not seen in three million years. As populations, economies and standards of living grow, so does the cumulative level of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions. See more

It is estimated that if our globe warms by 2 degrees in the next years we are likely to face extinction. So how many years are expecting before this happens? Simply put into minutes we likely have two and a half minutes ( but it is now probably less).

 

 

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