This statement, written in 1955 by Dale & Carter, two famous environmentalists of their times, was not an exaggeration. In the light of today's growing environmental problems, the quotation carries the ugly truth in it which invites us to call to mind what happens indeed with every footprint we leave behind as we travel the earth's surface.
We are all to blame for this sad state of our environment today.
Brief history of man's wanton neglect of his environment
In the beginning, man was contented with the primal elements, the pure clean and fragrant air he breathed, the cool clean water he drunk, and the velvety soil soft under his feet as he roamed around freely during his hunting-gathering days over the last two million years. Sadly, all of these had drastically changed.
About 12,000 years ago when modern man discovered that he could shape and manipulate the environment, he learned to industrialize and commercialize. He made rapid science and technology advancements. He began to explore his habitat of its biological diversity, from the smallest bacteria to the largest plant and animal. He became careless as years of discovery passed by. He destroyed the peaceful and well-ordered balance in nature. His activities were signs of sharp decline of his respect and reverence toward Mother Nature. He has since then wrought irreparable ecological damages to his one and only habitat- this planet called Earth.
Over only a span of about 1% of the time man has lived on earth, the desert of his footprints has widened, as he moves from one new land to another. He seems unmindful of the desert he leaves behind. He has done many hazards to the environment. Today, we are recipients of this habitat with a damaged ecosystem.
The hazards we make in the environment
In our desire to shape our environment to our own liking, consciously and unconsciously, we have introduced hazardous elements in the air, water, and soil.
1. Do you know that when you burn that unwanted rubbish in your yard, you are introducing aerosol, carbon dioxide, and other toxic chemicals in the atmosphere? These pollutants, like carbon dioxide, heat up the earth's temperature and produce the so-called greenhouse effect. This practice adds to CO2 emission in the air that causes global warming. This prolonged global warming has now produced climate change.
Polar ice is now starting to melt, world-wide tropical climate change in the forms of cyclones, storms, typhoons are inundating coastal cities. People in risk areas all over the world have to retreat to higher grounds for safety.
Aerosols and fluorocarbon in the air are blamed for that gaping hole in the sky that threatens the ozone layer. This is the earth's natural umbrella that protects us from the deadly ultra violet rays of the sun. The hole-tattered ozone layer is also blamed for the rise in percentage of cases of skin cancer on earth.
2. When you use fertilizers, detergents, and pesticides, you run the risk of doing more harm than good . Most synthetic and artificial commercial fertilizers, insect repellents, and soap ingredients are actually pollutants. Although fertilizers are used to increase yields of some agro crop hybrids, these are mostly water-based and are of low-nutrients. Fertilizers make the soil hard and dry through prolonged use. In time, soil fertility is lost pushing farmers in constant search for alternate sites for their crops. Why use fertilizers at all? Similarly, pesticides can kill the useful earthworm and contaminate the crops. Lessened green energy source increases the problem on productivity, food production, and food security. This warms the atmosphere as well.
3. When you cut down trees, you are courting the worst ecological problem to happen. Indiscriminate and illegal logging denudes the forests.Without the forests, many wildlife will die because of their absence of good habitat. Without trees, there will be floods, flash floods. Heavy rains usually cause soil erosion because of lack of forest covers. The continuous siltation of waterways due to soil erosion causes the flooding of lands and homes. Heavy loss of life and property is attributed to the strange behavior of of the tropical elements due to climate change.
4. When you dump your garbage in improper manner, the soil around is contaminated. Germs, viruses will abound and threaten the health of the people. There will be rise in skin diseases and many other ailments triggered by polluted soil. The foul smelling air will be a breeding ground for air-born diseases, the most common of which are respiratory diseases like asthma, colds, and coughs. The dirty juice of rotten garbage find their way to broken pipes of our potable drinking water making the water system unsafe for use.
Garbage thrown into rivers and other bodies of water produce chemicals that give rise to the recurrent red tide problem, hence the massive fish kill and food poisoning from contaminated fish the public consumers buy. The occurrence of large mass of algal blooms on the water surface prevents oxygen necessary for marine life, as well. The rise in water temperature due to heavy carbon deposit also contribute to global warming.
5. When you neglect care of your vehicles like cars, you are contributing to air pollution. Heavy smoke belching is also a contributor to carbon dioxide emissions that court airborne diseases as well as the holes of the ozone layer. It also affects the green life in the surroundings due to carbon emissions that leave dark oily covers on the green leaves thereby affecting manufacture of oxygen and productivity of plants and trees. The imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air adds to the warming of the earth's atmosphere.
Some Eco Friendly Methods for our Environmental Protection
There is no time to spare now. We have known only few causes of global warming here among many. We have known the consequences of our neglect for the environment, insignificant as they are, we can start reforming our ways from here.
1. If by burning our rubbish, our trash, and litters, we are polluting the atmosphere, we must exercise self discipline on proper waste disposal. We can sort our garbage, dig the yard to bury the biodegradable wastes and save the usable non-biodegradable matters. We can adopt the 3R's - Recycle, Reduce, Reuse- the buzzword s of advocates of environmental protection and sustainability. This is very basic, isn't it?
2. If by using fertilizers, pesticides, and detergents, we are inviting disaster to our crops, food production, and food security, we can find replacements with environment-friendly alternatives. Coconut oil can be a good substitute for soap ingredient, organic compost offers better production and safer green technology. Soap berries are good substitutes for pesticides. Less carbon dioxide from these products means less warming of the earth's atmosphere.
3. If by cutting down trees without reforestation we are introducing future heavy flooding, then let us pull our efforts together in reporting illegal logging. to proper authorities. The improper "kaingin" system of Filipino farmers or the old-age practice of clearing the forests and burning unwanted debris is often the cause of forest fires. This, too, must be stopped. Even if we cut trees in the forest, so long as it remains a forest, it regenerates itself under wise human cultivation, and reforestation. This way, it burgeons to its fullest productivity and eventually outlives its service to mankind. Thick forest covers, vegetation, and plantation help in the balance of carbon-oxygen-nitrogen in air the that makes a cooler and cleaner atmosphere.
4. If improper garbage disposal is detrimental to our health, then for our goodness' sake, let us practice proper waste disposal. Again, use the buzzwords of the 3r's for a clean environment and for our best of health. This way we are also preventing garbage clogging waterways that cause heavy floods. We can also check carbon emissions in the air.
5. If smoke belching vehicles add to heavy carbon emissions in the air, then we must give proper care to the vehicles. Have them checked on regular basis by proper authorities who will determine if your vehicle needs a change oil job or a major repair. And besides, your car is like your home away from home, so it must be safe all the time.
These are only few and probably insignificant issues and concerns regarding the total environmental problems. But aren't small things the beginning of great things? Hazards must be addressed ahead of time in order for us to live in an eco friendly habitat.
Photo by McDnry and chrissatchwell on Flickr