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Humanity is dirtying its own nest

We depend on nature for our survival yet it's in a dire condition because of our destructive, uncaring ways

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Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Humanity is dirtying its own nest

Tons of plastic waste have accumulated on the shores of the capital of the Philippines, Manila. A U.N. report on the environment warns that plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980. (Photo by Basilio Sepe)

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We humans, the species with large brains, so-called intelligence and abilities and power to change the face of the planet, are doing so with a huge negative impact. We are endangering ourselves, our children and grandchildren, and generations of children to come will be harmed by our wasteful and negligent ways.

The human species is the most dominant and aggressive stalking the planet. We are the T-Rex species of today, devouring all before us with an insatiable appetite for destroying most of the natural world.

"Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history," a U.N. report on the state of the natural world said, and it shows how humans cause much of the destruction. It is the most scientific and accurate assessment to date on the health of the planet. 

It says the extinction of a million species is very likely if human behavior and lifestyles do not evolve into being more protective of ecosystems.

It is upon this natural environment that we humans depend for our survival. The soil produces our food, clean water is essential for life, insects pollinate the trees and plants, and the once balanced climate makes it work. 

The climate is changing and global warming is upon us. The natural world and environment is collapsing before our eyes yet we humans ignore it and go on killing each other and life all around us.

It is natural biodiversity that is greatly endangered. Some extraordinary species will be gone forever in just a few decades. The pollinators are the most important insects on the planet and they are dying out. Certain species of bee colonies are in a state of collapse, not least as a result of pesticide-induced disease. 

In China, people go through orchards pollinating fruit trees. In California, truckloads of beehives are hired to pollinate almond orchards from where most bees are gone.

We humans depend on nature for our survival yet it is in a dire condition because of our destructive, uncaring ways. Humans are so absorbed with their own desires and pursuit of comfort, prosperity, power, wealth and pleasure that they are ignoring nature and destroying their own habitat.

Uncaring capitalism is behind most irresponsible and indiscriminate logging, mining, overfishing and burning of fossil fuels. These corporations are pouring pollution, toxic chemicals, CO2, methane and pesticides into the atmosphere and soil. Industrial chemicals and human waste are being washed into rivers and creeks. Creatures are dying and so are we.

Plastic waste is filling the oceans. There is the great Pacific garbage patch, an island made of floating plastic, a vortex the size of France floating in the Pacific Ocean. Plastic is contaminating fish and humans that eat them. There are even micro-plastic particles falling in abundance in pristine areas far from cities and industrial factories. A carcass of a sperm whale with a dead fetus was washed up in Sardinia in the Mediterranean recently. It had 22 kilograms of plastic in its stomach. 

The very air we breathe is filled with micro-plastics, poison gases, smog, fumes and particles from smoke stacks. Millions of vehicles spew carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases and millions of humans and animals are affected. The earth’s biodiversity is impacted. The poison gets into everything causing cancers in humans and animals. 

An article written by Bill Chappell and published by ‘Research News’ listed the most important findings of the U.N. report:

  • 75 percent of the land environment and some 66 percent of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions.
  • More than a third of the world's land surface and nearly 75 percent of freshwater resources are used for crops or livestock.
  • Up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss.
  • Between 100 million and 300 million people now face increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.
  • Since 1992, the world's urban areas have more than doubled.
  • Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other industrial waste are dumped into the world's water systems.
In Canada, the warmer climate is pushing deadly insects to attack the caribou. Caribou historically migrate to a higher, colder climate but leave behind rich nutritious grassland. Now they are eating less and dying off more quickly. From a herd of 80,000 ten years ago, there is now only 30,000. Indigenous Canadian tribes are facing an end to their way of life.

We are soiling the nest, losing precious creatures that will never be seen again and soon it will be a more dangerous, unhealthy, and insecure planet for all humans, plants and creatures. 

The human race is continuing to grow and is demanding more food, housing and land. People conflict with the natural world as they damage the environment. For them, it is survival. 

As of April 2019, the population of the world was estimated to be 7.697 billion people. By 2050, it will be 9.9 billion: 2.3 billion more people to strain the planet's resources.

Solutions are known: family planning to reduce populations, social equality to stem poverty, stopping the burning of fossil fuels, investing in technologies to clean CO2 from the air and educating people to end wastefulness and irresponsibility. If such measures were to be implemented, many creatures, including ourselves, would have a chance to survive in dignity.

Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially those who have been victims of sex abuse.

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