Time to escape to Mars?
Artwork by Marcin Lenkowski, follow on instagram @teironius or on website www.teironius.pl
Life on our planet is diminishing at a shocking pace. In the past 50 years, the Living Planet Index – an indicator of the biodiversity of animals on Earth – has plunged 68%, meaning that the current population of wild animals is just 1/3 of what it was not so long ago in 1970.
The biggest cause of this occurrence, according to WWF’s 2020 report, is the use of land and the transformation of the natural environment by man. Nearly half of the habitable land on Earth is used for agriculture (51M km2 of 104M km2) – for illustration, urban and built-up land occupies just 1.5M km2. Before, these areas were mostly covered by forests, which provide shelter for many wild species, and what’s more regulate the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere. Unfortunately, every year the planet’s total forest area is declining by approx. 260 000 km2 – not much less than the area of Poland (313 000 km2).
Currently, there are not enough forests on our planet, which only aggravates the climate crisis. Not only we are polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, but there is a shortfall of trees to absorb these emissions. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has soared, since the begging of the industrial revolution, from the historical average of 260 ppm to a staggering 415 ppm – a level not seen in the past few million years. As a result, the average temperature on Earth has increased by 1.1°C, while the ocean level has risen by around 21 cm. According to estimates, these will continue to surge at an increasing pace, posing a threat not only to the natural environment but also to us directly – by 2050 coastal areas currently inhabited by approx. 300 million people could be flooded. And if that was not enough, according to scientists, the melting of glaciers will lead to the revival of super-resistant viruses and bacteria that were trapped in permafrost for tens of thousands of years.
It is not the first instance of climate change on our planet, which has already experienced five ice ages and many other climate catastrophes – but this time it is being caused by human activity. Volcanic eruptions or impact effects have not influenced the environment to the same degree as continuous deforestation, exploitation, and pollution. It is, however, not too late to change our ways. It is worth exploring the ways of helping the environment – as, even if we do not directly see the climate changing outside of our windows, it does not mean it is not happening. Sooner or later, it is going to affect all of us, since both the ecosystem and the economy are interdependent on a global scale. For now, Earth is the only planet we have so we need to take good care of it.
The article was created as part of project called Teenage Action for the Environment. The project is conducted thanks to the grant from Active Citizens Fund National, financed by EEA.
www.theguardian.com › sep › defor…World losing area of forest the size of the UK each year, report finds | Environment | The Guardian
Climate Change: Global Sea Level | NOAA Climate.gov