As I said in an earlier post, I believe that the environmental change we humans are effecting on our planet is the biggest challenge facing the world today. In so far as it could lead to our own extinction as a species, it may actually be the biggest challenge we have ever faced.
I do not agree with those who argue that the emergence of this challenge is a result of human greed. It is the outcome of evolution, of the drive for survival which lies at the very core of every living organism. Millions of species that survived for hundreds of thousands, even millions of years, are now extinct because they were unable to adapt to the environmental change which they themselves often orchestrated.
In the last century, lighting and heating our homes and offices by burning coal and oil, increased transportation by road and rail traffic, industrialized farming, the domestication of farm animals, all have kept millions of people from starvation, poverty, the effects of deadly weather, and disease.
These innovations were spread by loving, creative, hard-working people around the world often making sacrifices for their children and communities. We didn’t know it then – we had no idea – that carried to an extreme, we could be destroying the potential of our very existence.
Yet we may be the only species that can now see that many of the very solutions to the problems we have been intelligent enough to solve in the past in order to insure our survival have now created the very problems we need solve in order to insure our continued survival.
We have the intelligence to solve these problems without destroying ourselves.
In New Zealand today, research is being carried out which is already producing cows and sheep which expel less methane. In Europe, scientists who have discovered that the huge expanse of man-made forests consisting of conifers isn’t reducing global warming but increasing it are moving to replace the conifers with nature’s original choice of broad-leaved varieties. We are identifying new and clean ways of tapping into the sun’s energy using the ocean waves, pedestrian traffic, even the tires rolling on the road might someday be used to charge car batteries without their ever needing to be plugged into a socket.
There are hundreds – no, thousands – of examples like this. Some are already being implemented, some are still in the experimental or even conceptual stage. The solutions are not yet all obvious. Nor will the problem be solved in one fell swoop, with one big single answer. It needs many steps, some small, some large.
But if we believe in ourselves and in our responsibility to care for this planet that has been given into our care, we can make it even better than it has ever been.
We are the ones who have to do it. And we can!