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How Dirty Is Earth's Future?
Teenagers may think that the most important-and life-changing-concerns of the year are, a new fight between your ‘posse’, or when your favorite basketball team is out of the NBA, but we are faced with many world-destroying issues, issues that need to be taken seriously by everyone. Environmental issues are issues that are either natural made or man-made and that affect all of Earth. Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Endangered Species are the most damaging issues to our planet. In these topics there will be subtopics debated like the causes and effects of the main topics. Read with care, and consider all points of view, and while reading ask yourself, Is there someway I can help with this?
Global Warming is the gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth's atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is one thing that negatively affects Global Warming, which is caused by natural and man-made substances like carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, nitrous oxide, methane, and other pollutants. Global Warming is an issue that has been around for many years, and is still here today, mainly because the human race is continually contributing to it, and the rate of our contribution is constantly rising.
Global Warming Causes
The two most influential factors that cause Global Warming are greenhouse gases and an increase in usage of chemical fertilizers on croplands, which are created from the activities of humans.
Greenhouse gases are gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation. The greenhouse effect is an effect caused mainly by Greenhouse Gases and is the process of absorbing the sun’s heat. One example of a greenhouse gas is Water Vapor. Water Vapor increases as the Earth’s temperature rises, and causes more precipitation and clouds overall. The Earth has a thermal blanket which surrounds the Earth, absorbs heat projected at the Earth, and warms the surface to a sustainable temperature. This blanket is made up of greenhouses gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and a meager amount of water vapor. This thermal blanket absorbs 90 percent of the heat that reaches the Earth and then radiates it back to Earth, creating a never-ending cycle. But, as the article ‘Global Climate Change A blanket around the Earth’ written by NASA states,“ Certain gases in the atmosphere block heat from escaping.” This exemplifies, that the greenhouse gases we use in our everyday lives like in cleaners, or factories that make our favorite sodas are corrupting our Earth and making the temperatures slowly rise.
The greenhouse effect will also lead to the Earth becoming warmer, more precipitation and evaporation, and warmer oceans and partially melt glaciers. These will cause increase in sea levels, and finally some regions will have changed ecosystems, some will become wetter or dryer, and will increase the warm temperatures in some regions. As stated, the greenhouse effect is warming oceans, but something you may not know is that when oceans or lakes water warms, the water will expand, creating additional sea level rise. But we have to remember that these gases are not just caused by animals, plants, and different kinds of ecosystems, they are mostly caused by us. According to ‘Global Climate Change’,“ the Intergovernmental panel on climate change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world… concluded there’s a more than 95 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet.” This demonstrates, that humans are not completely innocent when it comes to the blame game.
One of the biggest-kind of gas-impacts on Global Warming is Carbon Dioxide. Carbon Dioxide is created through natural processes such as respiration, volcano eruptions, and also human activities such as deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, and land changes.
Another gas that has an impact on Global Warming is Methane. Methane is a hydrocarbon type of gas produced through the decomposition of waste in landfills, agriculture, and rice cultivation, as well as ruminant digestion and manure management associated with domestic livestock. You might be asking yourself, isn’t Methane a more active greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide? Why is Carbon Dioxide the most dangerous gas? If you are asking yourself these questions you are correct, Methane is a more active greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide, but Carbon Dioxide is more plentiful in the atmosphere, causing Carbon Dioxide to be the biggest influence on Global Warming. Carbon Dioxide is the most plentiful greenhouse gas in the atmosphere because of humans, and the cars we use. It has been proved that Carbon Dioxide is increased in the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil. This information can be used to destroy the Earth or save it, by using fewer fossil fuels and using more planet-friendly cars.
Some people might be thinking, Oh Global Warming isn’t a big deal, the temperatures are rising immensely slow, we’ll take care of it when it actually matters. But, NASA states,“ A decrease in solar activity is thought to have triggered the Little Ice Age between….1650 and 1850.” The Little Ice Age was only 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit lower than it is today, and thousands of people were reduced to starvation and poverty, hundreds died, and the Baltic Sea at the size of 145,561 mi² was frozen over. This evidence helps show, that we should not wait for someone to save us, we need to stop Global Warming now. Developing on the idea of the Little Ice Age,“ Since 1750, the average amount of light coming from the sun either remained constant or increased slightly.” This concludes, that if the Little Ice Age was only 1.1 degrees lower than it is today, we could possibly have a Snowball Earth if temperatures drop or increase over the years.
Another main factor of Global Warming is the increase of usage of Nitrous Oxide based fertilizer on farms and gardens. Some people might be asking, What’s wrong with Nitrogen-based fertilizer? What’s wrong with Nitrogen-based fertilizer is that Nitrogen is one of the many greenhouse gases that contributes to the rising problem of Global Warming. According to Triple Pundit,“ Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” is ranked third behind carbon dioxide and methane in contributing to global warming, and is regulated under the Kyoto Protocols. According to the EPA, the gas is 310 times more effective in trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Sixty percent of the nitrous in the atmosphere is produced naturally.” This shows, that like Triple Pundit said, Nitrous Oxide is no laughing matter, and now it is damaging our world.
Something else you have to realize is that since this Nitrogen-based fertilizer is being used on our farms and crops, we are then eating these crops and therefore digesting Nitrous Oxide. Even though Nitrous Oxide is not poisonous, it can still give you one heck of a headache, and a shocking number of fifteen deaths a year is caused by Nitrous Oxide, and if we continue using Nitrous Oxide based fertilizers, you could be one of them. Do not misunderstand the message which is presented, scientists do not want to make farmers and industries stop using fertilizer, they are just trying to get a safer, healthier solution.
Another shocking fact is that since 1750, Nitrous Oxide levels have risen twenty percent, which is about the time the Earth started changing temperatures, showing that everything the humans are doing to this Earth is just combining to make one big problem. Also, Nitrous Oxide is not only contributing to Global Warming, it is also destroying the stratospheric ozone, which protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays.
Global Warming Effects
One effect of global warming is increasing sea level, which affects roughly a third of the US’s population, which is about 100 million people just because they live in coastal counties. Scientists and the people of the world know for a fact sea level is rising because, since 1880 the global average sea level has risen approximately eight inches. Why is this happening? You might ask, it is most definitely because of Global Warming but also because of melting glaciers which contribute to gaining sea levels by fifty-two percent, and warmer oceans contribute to it by thirty-eight percent. Because of the gain in Global sea level, scientists predict that in 2050 sea levels will have risen 16-24 inches, and by 2100 it will have risen 1.2-2.6 more feet since the sea level today. Of the fifty states in the United States Texas has had the most sea level rise over the last fifty years, with a shocking 12.5 inches, about half a foot of water in so little time. Global Warming may only be one problem, but it is creating more problems and if we don’t stop it, it will keep spreading. The two the biggest motivators of Global Warming are the loss of ice on land and thermal expansion-both primarily caused by Global Warming, showing that more problems are sprouting. Also, those one third that is in risk from rising sea levels would be even more at risk if the sea levels rose only two feet, causing at least one million dollars in damage, with half of the value primarily concentrated on Florida. And even when you do not live near the ocean or any body of water you can still be affected,“ Saltwater can reach further into coastal groundwater sources….increasing the salinity of freshwater used for drinking and agriculture.” This information can be used to spread the word that no one is safe when it comes to our planet’s problems, it affects each and every one of us and we need to do something to stop it.
The second most important effect of Global Warming is Invasive Species-any kind of living organism-an amphibian, plant, insect, fish, fungus, bacteria, or even an organism's seeds or eggs—that is not native to an ecosystem and causes harm. Invasive species may not seem like a big deal, but they are among the leading threats to native wildlife, for example, forty-two percent of endangered or threatened species are at risk due to invasive species. Almost fifty percent of animals are being threatened just because of one problem we are to blind to see, and to scared to solve.
Global Warming is everywhere, it is not coming, it is not approaching, it is already here. Invasive species not only affect animals, or ecosystems, they also have an impact on us. According to ‘Invasive Species’,“ the impacts of invasive species on our natural ecosystems and economy cost billions of dollars each year.” Also, the ‘Climate Institute’ states,“Many invasive organisms have an adverse impact on human health. Non-native species can cause a disease and they can also vector a disease.” These diseases may not sound serious, but smallpox was a form of invasive species, and so was the Black Death that invaded Europe and caused an estimate of 450 deaths. Invasive species are not only a threat now, they were a threat in the 1400s too.
Invasive species also are a cause of several billions of dollars annually in losses for the United States economy from forest, pastures, and crops. An estimate of 65% of losses in crop fields are because of plant pathogens, and 12% to weeds. 73% of those weeds are estimated to be alien weeds-invasive weeds. The invasive species also affect local wildlife by taking their food supply and leaving little to none for the wildlife. Most animals are not able to fight back because,“ Native wildlife may not have evolved defense against the invaders, or they may not be able to compete with a species that has no predators.” Since the invasive species came from a different location, their predators stayed in the ecosystem they came from. This causes the invasive species to be untouchable, or ‘invincible’ from other animals in its new ecosystem.
The invasive species also have more threats that can not only hurt the animals, but the ecosystem as a whole, for example,“ The direct threats of invasive species include preying on native species, outcompeting native species for food or other resources, causing or carrying a disease, and preventing native species from reproducing or killing a native species young.” This demonstrates, that since the invasive species has no predators where they are they are able to kill and do as they please, invasive species will slowly kill off other species that we need to survive. Take, for instance, the bee. One species of bee is the honey bee, the honey bee is also an invasive species but is helpful and pollinates our crops and flowers for us. Currently, seven hundred types of the bee species from North America are dying out due to pesticides and habitat losses. Without bees most of our crops will die, approximately 30% of the world’s crops will die out, and 90% percent of wild plants will become extinct without a pollinator. All of this evidence adds up to show, invasive is one problem that we have the absolute ability to solve, by monitoring travel from different states and countries, and to make sure there is always a -safe-predator for everything. We have also learned that small problems started decades ago can grow to be nation-wide, and maybe even worldwide problems.
Air Pollution is a problem we have faced time and time again, and it is affecting our health, our ozone layer, and it is creating another problem faced today which is acid rain. All of these are caused by one dangerous, unstoppable problem, Air pollution, but you may be wondering, If Air Pollution causes these problems, what causes Air Pollution? If you are asking yourself this you are asking the right kind of question. Air Pollution is caused by Fossil Fuels, which you have learned about before, and are about to learn more about.
Air Pollution Cause: Fossil Fuels
As I have said, the biggest cause of Air Pollution is Fossil Fuels-which are natural fuels such as coal or gas, formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms. According to the article ‘Air Pollution’,“ Most of this air pollution we cause results from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, natural gas, and gasoline to produce electricity, and power our vehicles.” This displays, that in our everyday lives of driving the car to work or school, and even flipping on a light releases gases into the air, creating air pollution. As people say, everything piles up. For example, from the evidence on fossil fuels, it has been concluded that every average family in the United States produces approximately eighty-five pounds of Carbon Dioxide a year- which is a temperature/climate changing gas-and every average citizen in the United States generates twenty-seven tons of Carbon Dioxide a year. Families and cars and electricity are going to be the cause of Earth’s downfall and we are all just sitting around and letting it happen.
Another thing that produces fossil fuels is industries/factories/power plants. Factories and industries have many important jobs, and they keep us fed and happy-but they also use fossil fuels to power the machines that package items. The factories and industries produce fossil fuels such as nitrogen, sulfur oxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, arsenic, and lead, to say the least. One type of factory is the food factory. Food factories are one of the most fossil fuel producing kind of factory because when handling grains and flour the factory produces dust, and when they render and wash meat and fish they are producing volumes of liquid waste that leaves mold and bacterial residues, and lastly, when frying and smoking they are releasing soot into the air. All of these processes conclude in polluting the air-maybe, not with gases, but stuff like soot, dust, and mold are still harmful to our ecosystems. And there are more kinds of factories other than food, and packaging, there is also metal smelting. Metal Smelting is a type of factory that processes and refines mineral ores and metal, during this process they are producing gases like sulfur and carbon oxides. As you can see, I have only listed a few of many kinds of factories that litter and pollute our air, land, and water, and there are still more kinds of factories, polluting our world non-stop.
Air Pollution Effects
Air pollution has affected many people, ecosystems, and economies, but the one thing it has hurt the most is the ozonosphere-the ozone layer which lies only nineteen to twenty-two miles above the surface of the Earth, which is why it’s so easy to corrupt. The ozone layer put into definition by the article, ‘Ozone Layer’ by Conserve Energy Future,“ The ozone layer protects life on earth from strong ultraviolet radiation that comes from the sun. Ultraviolet rays are harmful rays that can drive up the risk of deadly disorders like skin cancer, cataracts, and damage to the immune system. Ultraviolet rays are also capable of destroying single cell organisms, terrestrial plant life, and aquatic ecosystems.” As you can see, without the Ozone layer we would have more illnesses, and more health bills, and overall population loss. And after further research, I have discovered, that the Ozone layer absorbs almost 97-99% of the deadly Ultraviolet rays that the sun projects towards the Earth. A few examples of substances/gases that are affecting our Ozone layer are, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)-which are very powerful greenhouses gases that contribute to global warming, but cannot deplete the Ozone-, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform, and lastly, chlorine and bromine. There are also natural causes of the Ozone-depletion to, for instance, it is believed that the major volcanic eruptions-mainly EL Chichon in 1983, and Mt. Pinatubo in 1991-have contributed greatly towards Ozone-depletion. And all of these causes, and influences are building up and are impacting our Ozone negatively, because every 1% of the Ozone that is destroyed, 2.5% of the occurrence of skin cancer is increased, proving that we have to work faster to stop the Ozone being destroyed if we want to save our Earth. Also, it is found that 90% of total depletion is held at the responsibility of ODS-Ozone Depleting Substances.
As I have mentioned, chlorine is one of the leading impacts on the depletion of the Ozone layer, being able to break more than 1,00,000 molecules of ozone with one single atom of chlorine.
There is also Chlorofluorocarbons as I have specified, which attributes to more than 80% of overall ozone depletion-it can be found in coolant in home appliances like the freezer, refrigerators, and air conditioners. Also dry cleaning agents, hospital sterilants, industrial solvents, and foam products such as mattresses, cushions, and home insulation. As you can see, Chlorofluorocarbons are very common in everyday lives, enabling them to corrupt the Ozone much easier than most gases.
Hydrofluorocarbons are used in special fire hydrants that cannot be damaged by water or other extinguisher chemicals, carbon tetrachloride is used in fire extinguishers and fire solvents, and methyl chloroform is used in cold cleaning, vapor degreasing, chemical processing, adhesives, and aerosols. From this information, you can infer that the gases that are polluting our lives and environment are being used every day, which is why we have to come up with other solutions to the gases, or other versions of them. Our crops and vegetables are affected by UV light also, for example, some are, barley, wheat, corn, rice, oats, cauliflower, oats, tomatoes, and broccoli. Ingesting UV light affected crops will affect us too, it would affect our internal organs, our lungs, and most likely our kidneys. UV lights additionally affect our animals and livestock, animals such as plankton-which are the most affected sea creature by UV light. Other species are also impacted by UV lights, for example, it has been proved that UV light radiation can give animals skin and eye cancer, proving they’re not safe either. To conclude, an average family in the United States produces 325 pounds of NOx a year, let me put that in perspective since there are 265 families in the US, that means that the United States is producing 40,950 pounds of NOx a year. All of these people and animals and plants are going to die just because we are breaking the ozone, allowing all these UV lights to reach us, and soon we are going to have to face the consequences.
Acid rain is not a major issue but is growing into something that could affect us for the worst worldwide. Acid rain was first noticed in the 1950s, which means we have only had about seventy years to study and to analyze it and to start to think of solutions. If you are asking, What is acid rain? The answer is simple, acid rain is rain which has been contaminated with gases such as nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide to form sulphuric acids. When you think of acid, you think of the powerful acid that can burn your skin and melt metal, but the acid rain we see today can merely itch your skin, not harm it in any way. But, even though acid rain isn’t harmful to us doesn’t mean it’s not harmless. One of the biggest things that acid rain has an impact on is trees. It can harm trees in many ways, for instance it can,“ dissolve and wash away the nutrients and minerals in the soil, cause the release of harmful substances such as aluminium into the soil, and wear away the waxy protective coating of leaves, damaging and preventing them from being able to photosynthesise properly.” As you know, if a tree cannot go through the process of photosynthesis it will die without the sunlight, and the carbon dioxide the leaves take in for the tree to survive. But acid rain not only affects trees, it affects fish and lakes too. You can notice when a body of water is being affected by acid rain because it will become clearer and the number of fish and animals in the ecosystem will decrease. In conclusion, even though the acid rain doesn’t harm humans physical life, it can harm our eating life and our work and economy. For example, if one species goes extinct the food chain will slowly unravel until we having nothing to eat except the few crops we would have left. And it has been researched, that approximately $6 billion dollars in damage a year are caused by acid rain in damage to crops, lakes, forests, and buildings, which means every day, acid rain causes $16,438356 of damage to our world. From this information, we can reason that acid rain may not hurt us physically, but it can hurt our animals, our money, our buildings, and our crops, overall damaging us.
Finally, the one thing that air pollution effects the most, that is a part of our ecosystem, and overall world is people’s health and economy. There are many different health problems that could occur in different situations, for instance, some health problems from high pollution levels are cardiovascular and respiratory illness, stress to heart and lungs, and damaged cells to the respiratory system. Even though there are low chances of being highly exposed to air pollution when these things happen the illnesses are very serious and life-threatening. Long-term exposure can leave you with symptoms such as accelerated aging of the lungs, loss of lung capacity and decreased lung function, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and possible cancer, also a shorter lifespan. As I have previously mentioned, this will all happen over possibly several years, these viruses can possibly end your life. And for this reason, the United States has health costs from air pollution ranging from forty to fifty billion dollars. Also, you may not think you could be affected by an air pollution disease, but there are an estimated 5.5 million premature deaths a year caused by polluted air. From this information we can gather, that air pollution is not only causing deaths for plants and animals, millions of people are dying every year because we have decided to sit back and do nothing while our planet is destroyed.
Endangered Animals/Plants may not seem like a huge deal, but it is, the depletion of animals and plants affects our ecosystems, our economy, and overall us, but you will learn more about that later in the article. Endangered Species are scientifically defined by a few words, a species of animal or plant that is at the brink of becoming extinct. Fewer and fewer animals/plants are able to adapt to what we are doing to their home every day, and it is estimated that 150-200 animals and plants combined are becoming endangered every 24 hours because of natural causes, and on the long-term, us.
Endangered Species Causes
Overhunting is one of the main reasons why species are becoming endangered, and is happens all the time without us knowing, which is why is it so important to watch out for people who are overhunting. You may be wondering, What is overhunting? Overhunting is an activity which results in serious reduction of species population or harm to wildlife. One cause to overhunting is, that the population of people has increased, therefore contributing to the higher demands of food. Also, it is common that some indigenous people and tribes hunt and kill innocent animals for tradition, beliefs, and cultures. Take for example, how some ethnic groups live next to the oceans, or bodies of water to hunt turtles and use said turtles to make soup, which is believed to make you stronger. Another reason overhunting occurs is when people hunt for fun, or for sport. We all have seen a woman, or man hunting birds just to see how many they can hit. Or when people kill deer just to get the highest point deer. There are many reasons why overhunting happens, and I have only listed a few of many. And there have been many animals that have already gone extinct from overhunting, for example, giant lemurs, and elephant birds in madagascar, Miss Waldron’s red colobus monkey in Ghana, moas in New Zealand, Alagoas Curassow in Northeastern Brazil, and Giant Kangaroos in Australia. Even though states, countries, and continents are creating laws to prevent the event of overhunting, people still do every day and the population of some animals are slowly decreasing.
Another environmental issue, is the event of poachers, which is somewhat similar to overhunting. Poaching is illegally hunting or catching (game or fish) on land that is not one's own, or in contravention of official protection. Poaching is illegal, and is funded by black market trade of animal parts. Poaching is mainly done in Africa, where there are many black markets and some open shops that sell animals illegally. You may be asking, Why are animals being poached? If you are, you are spot on. Animals are specifically poached because their body parts can be used for products such as clothes, body creams, lip sticks, and accessories. Conserve Energy Future agrees by saying,“ The grey whale, for example, has been overhunted because it’s skin has a unique type of oil used in the manufacture of lipstick and body creams.” This exemplifies, that innocent whales are being killed only for the benefit of human beings. One of the most famously known animals that are being threatened by poachers are elephants. We know this because,“ The wildlife service destroyed six tons of ivory… confiscated at US borders.” And also,“ In 2011 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature declared the Western Black Rhinoceros extinct… Black Rhino was poached due to the belief in the healing properties of it’s horn.” Additionally, it was recorded that exactly 30,000 elephants were killed in 2012, adding up to almost 83 elephants murdered a day. All three facts describe humans being greedy and self-absorbed, by taking the lives of innocent creatures and using for our own-unnecessary- gain, either in beauty, belief, or just to show off what we have. We know for an absolute fact that people want to be in the possession of the rarest animals, because the Sumatran Tiger’s-an endangered and protected species-body parts are sold for up to $5,000. There were also three more horrific occurences of poaching in China. Take, for instance, when from October to February-year is unknown-officials in Hong Kong made three humongous seizures out of-ivory-elephant tusks. These seizures were made by the slaughtering of approximately 800 elephants. Also in February, Vietnamese authorities seized a record haul of illegally harvested wildlife products, including two tons of tiger bones, bear paws and gallbladders. Lastly, ‘The Guardian’-A local China based newspaper-found,“ two food outlets in the Hongua hot spring resort outside Guangzhou,” The capital of the chinese province Guangdong,“ openly breaking the law by serving pangolin and other protected animals. The Huashang restaurant charges about $150 per kilogram-2.2 pounds-of pangolin meat... Nearby, the Liyuan Mei Wei restaurant illegally offers cobra.” According to the Guardian, even though there are laws to prevent the serving of endangered and protected animals people are still selling, serving, and killing these animals. The Liyuan Mei Wei restaurant was such of a scofflaw and prima donna, they openly disobey the law, and they get away with it, like many other restaurants and industries, I assume. This information shows us that the overall cause of poachers is the human race’s need to have everything, which is affecting the animals and killing them slowly.
The second-and most commonly known-cause of endangered animals is habitat loss. The definition of a habitat is, they are the chemical, biochemical, and physical natural habitats that support living things. Even though it has been portrayed that habitat loss is solely caused by humans, and what we do to the animal and plant’s habitat. But, it has been proved that natural causes such as landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and more, are responsible for 15% of all habitats that are destroyed. And you may not realize it, but habitats and animals help us to breathe, drink purified water and more. CRD agrees by saying,“ Properly functioning natural systems create the air we breathe, break down our wastes, provide our food, purify our drinking water, and ultimately supply all the materials we require for living.” As you can see, we take the animals we have today for granted, by killing them for something as useless as makeup or face cream. Another way habitat loss affects us is, as you know bees are continually losing numbers and they are the insects which pollinate our flowers and crops, and overall provide food for us. Also, spiders, which humans hate so much, eat the insects that infiltrate our crops. Additionally, forests give us wood for houses and fire, forests and wetlands purify our drinking water, bacteria breaks down our waste, and lastly, most human beings on the planet eat wild plants, fish, and game often. And we are destroying these animal’s homes by building dams, highways, canal and bridges, and by the process of development. Although, as I have said, not all cases of habitat loss were caused by humans. For instance, when the dinosaur’s habitat changed 65 million years ago. Sciencing agrees by writing,“ The hot, dry climate of the Cretaceous period changed very quickly, most likely because of an asteroid striking the Earth. The impact of the asteroid forced debris into the atmosphere, reducing the amount of heat and light that reaches Earth’s surface. The dinosaurs were unable to adapt to this new, cooler habitat. Dinosaurs became endangered, then extinct.” Of course, dinosaurs didn’t completely die, some evolved into the birds and sharks we see today. The dinosaurs have taught us, that an entire species can go extinct just from their habitat changing, the dinosaur’s habitat didn’t even have to be destroyed for all of the dinosaurs to ‘kick the bucket’, their habitat just had to change a few degrees for the dinosaurs to die, which puts things in perspective. As I have mentioned, one of the leading causes to habitat loss is deforestation, or developement. Like, in the Amazon there are currently hundreds of thousands of trees being cut down, therefore destroying habitats of thousands of animals. From further research, people have learned that there about 3.5-7 million trees being cut down every year, showing how much we take our resources for granted. An example of how deforestation is affected the wildlife is, stingless bees in Costa Rica that nest only in forests increase the yield in coffee plantations by 20 percent. This explains, that if we lose the stingless bees and they go extinct, we will lose many resources that we will not now how to replace. Also as Sciencing has found, it is estimated about 14,000 to 35,000 animals are at risk of being extinct, since there are 50 million animals in the world, that means that at least 50 percent of the world’s population of animals are at risk of becoming extinct. All of this death, and possibilities of extinct species is being caused-partially-by habitat loss, which is caused-mostly-by humans.
Endangered Species Effect: Humans Will Lose Resources
The human race has lost resources before because of decrease in animals, Sciencing points this out by writing,“ In the 19th century, originally, the bison was a common animals on the central plains, with an estimated, population of 15 million… The Native Americans of the region depended on the animal for food, leather, and fur… By 1890, however, there were only a few thousand bison left in America.” When the bison’s numbers decreased, they forced tribes dependent on the animal to new lands-in search of food-and many of these tribes could not travel far enough to find new food sources. Another example of the human race losing resources because of decrease in animals is bees. Bees are responsible for the pollination of more than 250,000 species of plants. Also, eighty-seven of the crops humans rely on for food are pollinated by bees, while only twenty-eight could survive without such assistance. Even with all of this evidence supporting the deduction of animal’s numbers, some of you may be thinking, Wouldn’t it be expensive to save all the endangered animals? And you are correct, it would be expensive, it has been estimated that it would cost $76 billion just to preserve all land animals. This means, that we are only supporting 80% of all animals on Earth, since 80% of the animals on the planet are land animals, which still leaves 20% of more animals that need preserving. And it is definitely worth is to spend that money on the animals and plants in danger, because it was researched that the Earth provided services worth $33 trillion a year,-in 1997-while at that time the entire global economy only produced around $18 trillion a year. Another factor which encourages us to save the endangered animals and stop harming them is, when these plants and animals die completely without us knowing, we might be asking ourselves if that species of plant or animal was a cure to a disease, like cancer, polio, or parkinson's. Some of the people reading this article might be asking, So what, we don’t have to save all the animals, just the ones in dire need. But what those people don’t consider is, we would die without animals. Without the animals-microorganisms-living in our bodies, we wouldn’t be able to fight disease, or digest properly, and we would die without the air that trees give us, and we would have to artificially make all of our food and drinks, which no one has been able to do yet. According to BBC,“ A 2010 study concluded that unchecked species loss would wipe 18% of global economic output by 2050.” This may not seem like such a big deal, but this is global output, which means almost 20%-⅕-of all of the money in the world is going to vanish just because we were too lazy to help the endangered species when we had the chance. Additionally, 90% of commercial colonies in the Canada Niagara region have died out, and these bees are only the start of what is to come, because it is predicted that the entire bee species will die out by the end of the century. There is also the matter of the jobs that are fueled by animals and plants. For instance, arborists, biology teachers, gardeners, zookeepers, animal food companies, veterinarians, animal rescue, research centers, government forces, and dog training. All of this information leads to one problem, if the animals and plants die out on this planet, so will we.
Environmental Teen Activists
One environmental teen activist is Reyna Marshall, who is from Tucson, Arizona-age unknown-who became a teen activist be holding a art auction at age 7. At this art auction she sold drawings, paintings, sculptures, and prints that her family and friends had made. Reyna planned to donate all of the profits from the auction to a local endangered species group, the Center for Biological Diversity. The first night of the auction, Reyna and her friends sold $400 worth of art, and all of the money went directly to the Center. Two years later, after the first auction being so successful, Reyna-age 9-organized another fundraiser. But instead of an auction like last time, Reyna held a simple sale of art, which also raised hundreds of dollars. Reyna didn’t have to do much to help her community, and raise money for the endangered animals, she simply made art and sold it, which can help a lot if everybody donated/bought art.
Another teen activist is Celia Ho Yen-ke, who lived in Southern China. She is now 19 years old. Celia’s campaign is for elephants, and against the poachers who hunt them. When Celia was only 14 she worked on roping in celebrity basketball player Yao Ming to help her campaign, and years later she succeeded. Her thinking on getting the basketball player to help her is,“ I think getting him involved would send a message to-young-people in China that they can help...by being united against-the illegal trade-and telling their parents and friends not to buy ivory.” Celia is saying, that she wants the celebrity to help her cause because he is a known face, and the people witnessing his support will follow his example. By 2013, Celia’s campaign was supported by 58 organizations and 26 schools, including areas such as Uganda, India, Cambodia, and the United States. By spreading awareness, Celia also was putting herself out there. We know this because by 2013 Celia was already interviewed by BBC and National Geographic, showing that you don’t have to do much to spread awareness. Celia stands up for a noble cause, and people should know that innocent elephants are being killed for our gain.
Finally, a group that fight for endangered species called the Asian Turtle Rehabilitation Project group, or in simpler terms, ATRP. One of the many reasons animals are wrongly hunted is pointed out by The Guardian, when they write,“ Stewed turtle slows cancer, crocodile meat relieves asthma..and scorpion venom helps stroke victims.” The Guardian specifies these details because they are trying to tell the readers that innocent animals are being killed because there is a need in humans because of the cures they give us. As you may know already, China is the biggest black market location to trade, and in some of these black markets they sell endangered animals, obtained through poachers. One reason most endangered animals/plants are being killed in China is because of Chinese traditional medicines. This is because it is believed that the wilder and rarer the ingredient, the better effects. One of the most threatened animals is the turtle because they breed slowly, and their meat is supposed to be good for longevity. A few endangered turtle that are stating to be noticed are the Three-Stripe Box turtle, the Rogi Island Snake-Neck turtle, and the Malaysian Giant turtle. One way ATRP helps their community and the endangered species is by mainly spreading awareness. For example, the group secretly took pictures of a turtle being butchered and posted them online, raising people’s awareness and creating sympathy for the endangered animals/plants. They not only spread awareness, they also monitor the streets of China, watching the black markets for illegal/trading, and for other illegal events. As you can see, ATRP also points out two other major ways you can become a teen activist and help the world. They show us that you don’t have to do much to raise awareness, just post a few pictures that will play with people’s emotions to help your cause. Another approach to becoming a teen activist is to monitor your community, and make sure no one is openly defying the law, this will help a lot if everybody did it once in a while.
Lastly, another group called the Green Eye is known for one very specific-and effective event. This event was when they protested outside a Guangzhou restaurant because a nurse shark was being held captive in a tiny tank in which it could hardly move. They held banners which read things such as,“ no consuming, no killing.” They wrote these signs in Chinese and English, in an attempt to get all races involved. They stood in front of a chinese restaurant in front of everybody and they didn’t back down, they fought for what they believed in and that’s what makes them wonderful teen activists.
We should have more teen activists fighting for the cause of endangered species and environmental issues overall, because in the end it will affect us. There is also the matter of people openly breaking the law, even though teen activist and law forces are trying to stop the activities of black markets, poachers, etc. As I have mentioned, one occasion is when the Guardian noted,“ two food outlets in the Hongua hot spring resort outside Guangzhou openly breaking the law by serving pangolin and other protected animals. The Huashang restaurant charges about $150 per kilogram-2.2 pounds-of pangolin meat...Nearby, the Liyuan Mei Wei restaurant illegally offers cobra.” And this isn’t the only time someone has openly disobeyed the law, it happens probably many times per day.
Throughout the article it was mentioned time and time again, that environmental issues are not something you put to the side until you get to it, and it is certainly not something we can just ignore. We may be faced with social crisis’s, and theft, and internet dangers, but that doesn’t mean we can just take our planet for granted and keep taking it’s resources without expecting some effort to support it. We have to step up to the plate and try to save our planet, so we can continue living here with the resources we need to survive, but if we do not step up to the plate, and we keep putting it off, we will end up killing our animals, our planet and eventually us. So as you finish reading, keep in mind the first question who asked and one more, What can I do to help? And, Will I?
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