What would earth be like, without Nature?
This tragedy might seem unlikely to you, but it is entirely possible that this will come to pass.
Earth, our home planet, is a world unlike any other. Being the third planet from the sun, Earth is the only place in the universe known to host life. With a radius of 3,959 miles, it is the fifth-largest planet in our solar system and the only one that is known for sure to have liquid water on its surface. Formed around 4.5 billion years ago, with land containing mountains, valleys, and flat areas, the air is made up of different gases, mainly nitrogen and oxygen while the water includes oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, rain, snow, and ice.
In this very space, water, plants, animals, air, light, and soil all coexisted in a harmonious ecosystem. Ecosystems and their biodiversity are essential for life: Nature is what grants us the foundation of life. Today, more than half of Earth’s land is occupied by agriculture or human settlements, around 0.3 percent of Earth’s water can be used by humans, and together, we are accompanied by a total of 20 quintillions (20 billion billion) animals, all living concomitantly among us in the place we call home.
The ecosystem sustains our planet – but the delicate natural processes of this relationship have been disrupted, and nothing less than the very survival of the wildlife animal is at stake.
To anyone paying even passing attention to Environmental news, this shouldn’t come as a shock. Habitat degradation and global warming are generally portrayed as the two main killers of the wildlife populations, with at least 571 species in extinction since 1750, and more than 100 million animals being killed by hunters in the United States each year.
These problems are very real, but much of the danger comes from within our actions.
It’s urgent, and on the other hand, it remains a choice.Minderhoud
The blood-orange daytime sky in the midst of Black Summer
Not only was 2019 the driest year on record for Australia, but it was also the most emotional and visceral year for those who had spent up to four decades tending to each and every tree in the Gondwana rainforests of northern New South Wales – that are now nowhere to be found.
On 9 March 2020, a fire burst out from the forest of New South Wales, resulting in a record number of 10,520 bushfires. From September 2019 to March 2020, it burned a total of 5,595,739 hectares of land, 2,475 houses, cost 25 human lives and affected nearly 3 billion animals. In the eyes of local ecologists, clinical doctors, scientists, park rangers, and botanists, humanity has already lost hundreds of years of forest growth. “Whatever we can do, we’ll do. When you’re in an area of unburned land when so much else has been burned, this is our responsibility. We don’t really have a choice. I know how much healing this place can bring.”, said Groffen and Hodgens, who run the not-for-profit Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife. While the mega-fire consequence is not as visibly disruptive as the immensity of poor evaporation, the main cause of low rainfall and low humidity across Australia, it is an existential threat to the ecological system of wildlife animals. NASA estimated that half of the Kangaroo population and 50,000 Koalas may have been killed. A quarter of the beehives of the Ligurian honey bees that inhabited the Island are believed to have been destroyed. Some endangered species are even driven to extinction by the fire.
“If we get another fire in the next 10 years it will be a serious disaster,” Sarah Barrett, who leads the recovery efforts for threatened plants in the area for the Western Australia Parks and Wildlife Service, expressed her concern when in an interview with the Guardian. 24 threatened species had already hit the IUCN Red List by the end of 2019, 20 of now nowhere to be found. At the same time, 331 threatened and migratory species are known to have had part of their habitats scorched across Australia in the 2020 fires – including 271 plant species, 16 mammals, 14 frogs, nine birds, seven reptiles, four insects, and one spider. Time is running out.
Our reckless and arrogant relationship with nature resulted in the spread of animal annihilation, as their wild populations continue to dwindle and their habitats disappear thanks to our collective consumption and disruption. Under a blood-orange daytime sky, people fled to the beach to avoid sinking themselves in the lifeblood of fallen living creatures, with the preposterous belief that we can rectify the pollution that we have first introduced into the world.
We’ve lost hundreds of years of forest growth.Robert Kooyman
Deep In Their Roots, All Forests Hide The Fire
The Amazon rainforest is so much more than just a mere forest.
“Forests, in general, tend to be underappreciated for the many contributions that they make to human well-being across scales,” said Frances Seymour, a distinguished senior fellow at the World Resources Institute. “But the Amazon forest, in particular, serves a variety of functions that are underappreciated and that are disproportionately important both to local communities and at the global scale.” It supports local livelihoods through fishing and the collection of fuelwood, acts as nurseries for fish to sustain coastal fishing communities and excess freshwater areas at storing carbon. Fish in Amazon tributaries are a huge source of protein in the region. Annual floods replenish nutrients in floodplain areas used for agriculture.
Additionally, it helps to prevent flooding caused by coastal storms, which are expected to increase in severity and frequency due to climate change. All rainforests are natural air filters, they store and filter excess carbon and other pollutants from the atmosphere and release oxygen through photosynthesis. Without them, our planet wouldn’t be able to mitigate excess greenhouse gas emissions, effectively destabilizing the Earth’s climate.
But it is burning: the forest that consists of one-fifth of the oxygen we breathe, 20% of the world’s fresh water, and half of life on earth is on fire, and not in a figurative way. Rising temperatures and shifting deforestation patterns may cost 27% of its current tree by 2030. Experts agree that the situation looks dire, and warn that soon the water cycle will become irreversibly broken, locking in a trend of declining rainfall and longer dry seasons that has begun decades ago.
Ricardo Galvão, who was fired in August for defending his data on tree loss, told the Time, “If the Amazon is destroyed, it will be impossible to control global warming.” It has already lost over 906 thousand hectares of forests and cost Brazil US$957 billion worth of damages during the 2019 rainforest wildfires. Along with the immediate negative impacts on human lives, the wildfire upends ecosystems with unpredictable effects, throwing fragile biomes horrifically out of whack, migratory patterns upended and food chains shattered.
The domino effect of this disruption is as wide-ranging as it is impossible to quantify.
If the Amazon is destroyed, it will be impossible to control global warming.Ricardo Galvão
Is That A Silver Lining Or A Piece of Tin Foil?
While Southeast Asia is known as one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions, home to booming metropolises like Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Kuala Lumpur, it also hosts some of the planet’s most vital ecological areas.
The Greater Mekong, which includes Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar, is key to this environmental vitality. According to the WWF, more than 2,200 new vertebrate and vascular plant species have been discovered in the region since 1997. In the 1970s it was the most densely forested area on Earth. But despite its biological diversity, it is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, polluting oceans with an estimated 40 thousand tonnes of plastic each year. The pollution is due in part to the expansion of rice fields from 3.2 million hectares in 1995 to 3.9 million hectares and the increased use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Rice may form the base of many of our favorite Vietnamese dishes, but modern-day production methods for the grain have wreaked havoc on the delta’s natural systems. So while people harvest the multi-functional plant, the harvesting can cause more harm than good. Yet wealth disparities and economic realities make it difficult to put the blame on those who look to it to escape poverty.
People in the area have little knowledge about water-related issues and they have little access to information. Trying to bridge the gap through reports in the media is going to be difficult. But that is the least we can do because, at the end of the day, the question shouldn’t be “Is that a silver lining or a piece of tin foil?”, but rather, a different question of how to educate its local citizen to have the knowledge about climate change, and what they can do to implement the adaptation plans imposed from the above jurisdiction.
These people don’t care about a one-meter sea-level rise in 2100. They care about their next meal, and that’s affected by climate change and urbanization.Joep Janssen
We’ve All Wanted Something We Can’t Have
Even if it is something out of reach, like a succulent apple growing on a branch inches beyond the outstretched tongue of a giraffe. And in this case, the succulent apple happens to be the renewable European Green Deal of the European Union. Its overarching aim is to help the union become the world’s first “climate-neutral bloc” by 2050 by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the share of renewable energy, and making improvements in energy efficiency.
There is no doubt that the environment we live in is experiencing dramatic changes that call for immediate action. And the simplest way to make sure that the benefits we reap from nature will continue, not just now but into the future, is through environmental sustainability. Yet, despite all the emphasis on making this method work, it is still facing an immense amount of challenges from human rights, land conversion, human encroachment, timber extraction, and water inequality.
Climate change undermines the social and environmental determinants of health, including people and animal’s access to clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food, and secure shelter. It’s very important to realize that these changes are taking place and are predominantly driven today by human activities. So it’s our choice to continue or not, but at least for now, you might have already grasped an occurring trend of what is happening in our natural environment. Now is the time to see whether those problems will be taken by the people and authorities. If we get lucky, the world will get a new deal with the angel, just as ripe and succulent as the European Green Deal. But this time, the apple’s branch doesn’t have to be far-fetched, but close to the root of our endearing hearts.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.Ralph Waldo Emerson
Humanity Is Built Around Not Wanting To Destroy Where We Live
This article focuses on the many distraught events that have happened to our surrounding environment in recent years. We must appreciate the ugly in the beauty. If we hadn’t experienced the manifestation of stress and misery when dealing with the problem, the devastation by countless examples of humankind’s destructive presence in Nature, we wouldn’t have felt the urge to protect biodiversity at all cost. And, you would not have read this article.
Nature does not sleep, they are forever shouting in a language we simply cannot understand. Yet, they remain silent when we show them the blood of fellow species, perhaps if someday we can interpret the silence, we will be able to see their mourning of the dead. Life is unfair. Simple, but true. We need no more proof.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things.Mary Oliver
Perhaps that is why nature is where we come to relax, to feel at ease at ourselves, being struck by the incredible complexity of greens and how alive everything is. It makes us realize how grateful we are for everything around us, gratitude for trees and nature, gratitude for the relentlessly bizarre and endearing world we inhabit, gratitude for the kindness and joy of strangers, gratitude for freedom, gratitude to seek joy. Therefore on this day, World Earth Day of 2021, IVolunteer International sends our gratitude toward the one and only planet Earth. Thank you for being an irreplaceable lung, to make each inhale feel a certain calmness like when a child lies on their father’s chest. You have been nothing but a delight!
Animal Matters. Facts – Wildlife.
Alexander, Filkovab, Tuan Ngoc, Stuart Matthews, Simeon Telfer, Trent D.Penman. Science Direct. 2020. Impact of Australia’s catastrophic 2019/20 bushfire season on communities and environment. Retrospective analysis and current trends.
Damian Carrington. The Guardian. 2020. ‘Frightening’ number of plant extinctions found in global survey.
Energy And Environment Institute. River of Plastic.
Graham Readfearn. The Guardian. 2020. Australia after the bushfires.
Kimberly Mullen. NGWA. Information on Earth’s Water.
Michael Greshko. National Geographic. Planet Earth, explained.
Madison Lemelin. Rainforest Trust. 2019. 5 Reasons to Stop What You’re Doing and Save Rainforests.
Matt Sandy. The Time. The Amazon RainForest Is Nearly Gone.
Michael Tatarski. Urbanist Hanoi. 2019. How the Mekong’s Mangroves Can Survive Against the Threat of Development.
Rhett A. Butler. Mongabay. 2019. The Importance of the Amazon Rainforest.
SeafoodSource. 2008. Report: Mekong Delta Waters Polluted.
The United Nations Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action. Toolkit And Guidance For Preventing And Managing Land And Natural Resources Conflict.
The United Nations World Water Development. 2018. Nature-Based Solutions For Water.
United Nation Human Rights Special Procedures. Safe Climate – A Report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment.
UNODC – United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2020. World Wildlife Crime Report – Trafficking in protected species.
Wikipedia. Last edited on 14 April 2021. History of Earth.
Wonderopolis. How Many Animals Are There in the World?
Wikipedia. Last edited on 13 April 2021. European Green Deal.
IVolunteer International is a 501(c)3 tech-nonprofit registered in the United States with operations worldwide. Using a location-based mobile application, we mobilize volunteers to take action in their local communities. Our vision is creating 7-billion volunteers. We are an internationally recognized nonprofit organization and is also a Civil Society Associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications. Visit our profiles on Guidestar, Greatnonprofits, and FastForward.