Environmental science has never been something that is well communicated to the general public. Science in general seems to be perceived by the majority of people as “boring”…and environmental science in particular is brushed aside as being rubbish or not relevant, spread by “tree-huggers” and “hippies”.
After recent events (in particular Brexit and Trump’s election victory), it has occurred to me that people do not seem to care about the environment. Of course they would never admit that if you asked them- but in reality they see it as someone else’s problem for another day, something not particularly interesting and not worth dedicating time to. Some people think it’s too late- that we’ve gone past the tipping point, and that it’s not worth doing anything, we may as well just be “business as usual.”
What people don’t seem to understand is that the understanding, monitoring and preservation of our planet’s natural environment is the biggest issue facing us today. It simply is, and it is not too late to change our ways and to preserve our planet and it’s resources for the future.
You might not care much about the plight of the bees, or about some parts of a rainforest being cut down, or a particular fish population being decimated, or a coral reef being bleached beyond return.
However, if you care about people, and about the human race, then you should care about the environment.
The island nation of Kiribati, with a population of 115,000 people, is predicted to be completely submerged within the next 50 years (Kiribati Govt.). Gone. Wiped out. That’s 115,000 people that need to relocate, move away from where they grew up, raised their families, where their history, culture, heritage, businesses and livelihoods are. Their islands will be gone. No trace left of them except what is hidden under the sea. How is that acceptable?
Water conflict in the Middle East and North Africa is resulting in violence and civil wars. People are having to flee and migrate en masse to areas where there is safe, clean, accessible drinking water just so they can survive. People are risking their lives to make treacherous journeys to escape to safer areas. This causes huge unrest, and puts immense pressure on other areas to cope with the influx of migrants. How can we let this happen?People are dying in the fight over water, and 783 million people currently do not have access to clean drinking water (UN Water, 2013). Despite this, you have incredible amounts of water being wasted in the Western world, as well as extremely water-intensive practices such as cattle farming and palm oil cultivation growing at an alarming rate. What’s worse it that for both of these things, they have to deforest millions and millions of acres of forest which means complete decimation of habitats and less atmospheric carbon dioxide being absorbed by trees which contributes to climate change.
Climate change is melting Arctic ice. There is no denying it, the data is there for you to see plain and simple. The amount of polar ice being produced each year is decreasing, and sea levels are rising. If you are in any doubt about this, just do a bit of research and you will find everything you need to see. Indigenous people have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years- currently the number of people living in the Arctic is 4 million, with indigenous people making up the majority of that (NSIDC). These people are living with a daily threat of sea ice melt, erosion and storms- threatening their livelihoods as well as their homes. The indigenous people of the Arctic live off of the land in a sustainable way, and yet they are some of the people most at risk from the effects of climate change. How is that fair?
As well as remarkable species not being around for future generations to see, and beautiful landscapes no longer existing, there is a critical human side to the environmental issues we currently face. If you care about people, about humanitarian issues, about global safety and peace…then you should be taking notice of what is happening in the world around you and doing your part to make a difference.
Following the disastrous events of 2016, the outlook for the environment is not a good one. But if we can spread the word about how important it is, about why people should care and about what they can do to make a change- then maybe we can save this planet before it’s too late. Education is key- so don’t be angry that people don’t understand the issues, or aren’t paying attention…take some time to spread the word, to educate yourself and others, and stay positive for a better future.