Sunday, February 2, 2014
Week Three Assignment
The consumption pattern of humans on the Earth, mainly Americans, is having such a massive negative effect on the environment that the world is currently being consumed at a far greater rate than it can replenish itself every year. Americans consume and impact the Earth an equivalent of four times the amount of resources and change it has the capacity to handle. Through farming, urban expansion, fossil fuel burning, and wide scale deforestation, the reserve and ample amount of resources that the Earth was equipped with for a majority of it's existence is being eaten up at a harmful and potentially catastrophic rate. Due to the enormity of Earth, and the rare instances of scarcity among vital resources, at least in developed societies, humans have never had to face the fact of the speed at which they are destroying the Earth. Once a forest has been completely flattened or an oil vein becomes depleted, humans have always had the ability to simply move onto the next natural store of resources, never realizing the huge shift that they were putting into effect sure to be felt in the seemingly distant future. Since instant gratification of humans and immediate well being was never seriously threatened, it seemed like the consequences to this behavior were irrelevant because there was constant replenishment of consumption in other areas, you would only have to search. According to Orr, the burning of fossil fuels and accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere occurring today will not impact the environment for thirty years, meaning that based on the rate of increased consumption over recent history and the enormous amount we consume currently, the changes and the negative ramifications that we are feeling today in terms of severe weather and noticeable temperature increase are minor compared to the future effects of our ecological footprint. This delayed reaction explains the way in which humans can continuously burn through environmental resources and not realize that they are using more than the earth can afford. The expansion of the human race in numbers and consumption that comes along with this constant use of resource makes the reversal of these negative effects increasingly difficult as time progresses. Without addressing the harm that we are inflicting on our planet, the accumulated and future effects will continue to grow until they are beyond the realm of human control. Deforestation, although witnessing a decrease, is quickly wiping out much of the worlds carbon stores and ability to combat the negative causes of fossil fuel burning. While the efforts to conserve and build upon the worlds forest regions has been encouraged, we are still consuming an unsustainable amount of valuable resource to our climate that will only grow more and more difficult to replace, which will obviously compound the negative effects of fossil fuel burning. With the constantly rising population, a dial back in CO2 emission and essentially production of goods would mean a more drastic shift in behavior the later the change is made, which would likely be far more disputed, fought, and ultimately achieved as the accustomed way of life and margins of businesses would be disrupted.