To the Editor;
In the Man's Progress: Burning of Fossil Fuels: It is only recently that humans have begun to change the nature of our atmosphere. Before the 1800's, our civilization had very little effect on its composition.
Before 1800, there were fewer than one billion people on our planet. But since then, the world population has skyrocketed. Now there are over seven billion of us sharing the resources provided by the earth. There has been an increase of 35% in the world's population over the last twenty years! (world's population was 5.2 billion) This is an example of exponential growth. Another example is our commercial production of goods and services by industries. The global economic growth increased by 75% over the same period! The rapid increase of mass production and the size of the machinery needed to do the job has increased the massive amount of chemical waste and toxins (either in the production process or end products) are even more than the increase in population. And with this, because we use fossil fuels almost endlessly in any particular operation, results in massive accumulations of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.
The key element of exponential growth is that it continues to accelerate - increasing faster and faster. We use fossil fuels for everything. Thousands of coal-burning plants around the world generate the electricity that people use to light their homes and offices and run everything from refrigerators to computers. Global energy is up 40% from the early 1800's. Oil refineries make the gasoline that fuels the world's cars, trucks and airplanes. Natural gas is used to heat our homes and cook our food. Use of coal, oil and natural gas was 4.7 times higher in 2002 than in 1950. Fossil fuels are used to making everything from steel to cement, and from plastics to pharmaceuticals. Our world is built-on and is powered by – fossil fuels. And the demand for fossil fuels is forever increasing exponentially and the depletion rate is also increasing exponentially. Growth cannot continue in this way; we will reach a limit.
The combustion of fossil fuels by industries and automobiles as well as deforestation has increased the amount of carbon dioxide by 18% since 1960! And the world's economy is supposed to increase by another 25% in the next two decades, while carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 43%!
Our progress in the last couple of centuries depended upon cheap energy (especially oil), and the use of machines to replace animal and human labour. Our society has the impression, and unfortunately, incorrect information, that industry provides our basic needs: the food, the water, the shelter, and our clothes at our convenience. We have been "snowballed" by the rapid developments in industrialization and we forget the "root" of every basic need comes from nature. The food we get from the grocery store comes from the crops grown by our farmers, the water comes from our glaciers and the rains, the shelters we build come either from trees or from oil (cement), and our clothes come from animals or petroleum (synthetically made). If we continue to exploit our natural resources indiscriminately, we will lose everything we have gained and simultaneously, destroy nature through poisoning our atmosphere, water and soil. Additionally we are creating an irreversible unnatural climate system that could be will us for centuries.
Water is scarce. Waste is rampant. There's an energy shortage. This is the cost of urbanization, of growth; we step on each other, selfishly, mostly unconsciously. Remember, humans are just one of many species. What we are doing, we are doing it to all other living things on this planet, including ourselves.
The number of items in a typical Canadian household is ten thousand. In Canada we shop until we drop, but it takes a lot of energy to manufacture all that stuff. And, moreover, it takes a lot of fuel to transport it, and us, to stores. Manufacturing and transportation creates the most pollution and carbon dioxide.
We all breathe the same air, but we don't realize that our shopping addiction and outrageous consumption affects the world - globally. Developing countries may have a physical population explosion but we, here in the "developed" world, have a different population explosion - enormous waste in our throwaway society and the production of unneeded products. As an example, the Chinese environmental experts criticize American (and Canadian) consumers for buying so many Chinese goods and then complaining about all the pollution created from manufacturing in China. Wal-Mart uses thirty thousands Chinese factories to supply the store with its goods!
Moral of this story: Reduce our consumption of cheap products from developing countries and maybe we will reduce their pollution over there!
One of the biggest problems is the use of coal to provide China's energy needs. This, alone, creates more pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions that anything else. China, the United States, and even us must reduce our energy consumption immensely. The energy growth rate is 53%! We need to get our growth rate down to a more sane rate of 1.25% and this will help make the transition from fossil fuels to alternate energy sources more smoothly.
Is the Arctic warming up? Yes – and fast! The National Weather Service in Alaska had shown over the last fifty years the average temperature in the winter months had increased by six degrees Celsius. What does this mean to the natives living there? The ice is melting, the permafrost is thawing out, more erosion is occurring especially near the coastal areas. Hunters and animals are been forced to live on a land that is eroding away and being swallowed up. If nature is changing quickly, so is the way of life. The polar bears are searching for food but it is much harder to find. The polar bears are looking for solid ground but their habitat is melting away. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE POLAR BEAR WILL HAPPEN TO US! WE ARE ALL INTERCONNECTED!