Although Chicken Little’s ill-advised proclamation that the “sky is falling” ultimately turned out to be wrong, I too have a warning about our impending doom that might have a little more credence than poor Mr. Little’s. I guess the mantra I will be shouting is very similar however, “Our environment is falling” has almost the same ring to it. The continued blatant and callous disregard with which we have polluted our environment is finally having tangible effects that people need pay attention to before it’s too late. There are many people out there that would argue that my assertation that our environment is in peril, which means we are too, is a false claim. But I would beg to differ. It is time we sat up and took notice of the atrocities that are happening around us. We need to take notice of the changes in our surroundings and realize that we are choosing to turn this world from a hospitable one into an uninhabitable, barren wasteland. I hope in the end you will not my find my claims as erroneous as Chicken Little’s.
Reports have been coming in from all around the world about strange animal deaths. Is this some kind of bizarre coincidence or are these deaths related events? On New Years 2011, 1000’s of birds were found dead in Arkansas. In Sweden, a few days later, thousands of birds were mysteriously found dead there, too. And again, a few days after that, thousands of birds were found dead in Italy. They were all different species of birds, they were all found in different locations around the world, yet they were all found dead. In New Zealand, tens of thousands of fish were unexplainably found dead floating there in the bay. In the Arkansas River a 100,000 fish were found dead washed up on the shore. In England 40,000 crabs washed up on the beach, dead. In Brazil sardines are being found dead on their shores. Are all of these strange deaths a coincidence? Are we finally seeing some of the blow back from the hundreds of years of thoughtless and reckless polluting of our environment? I think this should give a little pause for concern. I am not buying into the Mayan prediction that the world is coming to an end in 2012. I mean they couldn’t even predict that they were about to be conquered by the Spanish that landed on their shores, so I am not putting any credence in to their prophecies. But this should make you think that maybe some of what we are doing is finally coming back to haunt us.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year that dumped more than 4.9 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico could possibly have some impact on the environment. It was only 3 months worth of oil at 53,000 barrels a day being pumped into the ocean, it was probably nothing compared to the Ixtoc spill of 1974 that lasted for 8 months. And everyone knows that Mexico’s waters are synonymous with being clean. There are many people out there that believe man is too tiny to have an impact on our environment. There are those that claim that the Earth has been around with life on it for so long that it can withstand any impacts we might cause. Those were also the kind of people that believed the world was flat and that Elvis is still alive. The very convenient truth for them is that they don’t have to take responsibility for their environmental apathy because it will take care of itself. This is the type of indifference you might witness when you see someone chuck their trash on the grass at a park when there is a trash can 20 feet to their left or right. They think that someone else should clean up their mess. Who? Who is going to clean it up? The Earth is indeed resilient and can and has been able to absorb the punishment we have been doling out. However there is a limit to what the Earth can do on its own while it still is able to sustain life.
There is a term for this occurrence; it is called reaching a critical mass. When something is at its critical mass, it only takes one more incident regardless of its size to tip the scale from normal to disaster. Like Wiley Coyote on a cliff with a stack of boulders on top of him, the single solitary feather that floats down and lands on him that causes the ledge he is standing on to break and send him crashing down to his doom. Our environment is in such a precarious state. Accidents like this one that could have been prevented with proper safety precautions, are adding up. Accidents like this, although they at some point can be contained and cleaned up and do not directly kill mother nature, will ultimately leave their lasting scars. Accidents like Bhopal in India, the Minamata mercury dumping in Japan, Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, Chernobyl meltdown in the Ukraine, 23 Mile Island meltdown in Pennsylvania, Love Canal toxic dump in upstate New York, the refuse release into the Ohio River in Tennessee, and the gas cloud of Seveso in Italy to name a few of the major incidents that have severely effected our environment and in turn killed tens of thousands of humans in the process. And let’s not forget the most egregious environmental and human killer, war.
Another example of the teetering safety of our environment is the sudden and dramatic shifts in weather patterns. It is normal for these weather patterns to shift, but they are doing so at a much faster rate than should ordinarily be occurring. It is normal for weather to have its peaks and valleys. Huge snowstorms where it is not known to have snow, 60 inches of rain fall in the middle of the driest desert, or heat spells in normally cold areas are bizarre, but normal behavior for weather. But this odd behavior in the weather is happening with a frequency that is indeed troublesome. These changes are supposed to be gradual. Shifts take time. Centuries upon centuries to see the slightest change. But we are seeing “fast” moving changes in a fraction of the time it should take. The temperature of our oceans has increased by a whole degree in the last century. That sounds like nothing, 100 years, one degree, so what? Well that one degree is what is causing storms like El Nino to blow harder, last longer, and affect more areas then it would normally effect. It causes changes in the temperatures at the tops of some of the highest mountains which apparently is bad because it means that not only are we changing things at our level in the atmosphere, but at multiple layers. Like a proverbial snow ball, these concerns with our environment have started off small and unnoticed, but with time has picked up size, mass, and momentum and without any intervention and prevention will grow and grow until the eventual magnitude of it is so big and out of control that it is an unstoppable force.