We are the most intelligent species on earth! How cool is that? I mean, look at all that we have been able to accomplish. We invented air travel, the printing press, telephones, the internet! Imagine, I can talk to anyone anywhere in the world and get a message across within seconds. That's not all, I can see their face if I want to. Isn't that crazy? About 50 years ago, the internet was virtually non-existent, but now, when the wifi goes off at work, we are stranded—the brilliance of the human brain. Intelligence is powerful, it is a gift, one that human beings have used over the years, both for good and for evil. While making powerful advancements in the field of medicine, we also designed weapons to completely wipe out entire cities. While creating telecommunication networks that connect the entire globe, we invented algorithms that maximize the amount of time people spend glued to a screen and hence cut off, isolated from the world around them.
Take the agrarian revolution for instance. Agriculture is one of if not the most significant human invention. Before that, we hunted and gathered. When one set out to find food for his family, there was never a guarantee of finding any. Our survival was a gamble. Then came farming, we figured out a way to make use of weather patterns to yield maximum produce. With that came stability, and security. We then discovered that we did not have to go hunting all the time. We could domesticate animals, for eggs, milk and meat. We were no longer surviving, we were thriving. We had enough.
Then came commercial farming. Why grow all the food your family needs when you could concentrate on one crop, sell it and use the money to buy all that your family needs? Factories came up and so did the demand for crops such as coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, and wheat. It was no longer about having enough for your family, it became about making the most profit. The higher the quantity and quality of your crop, the more the profits. It was no longer a community effort to ensure the survival of the species, it became a competition, a blood bath for wealth, power, and social status, the more you had the better. Therefore we came up with better farming techniques, improved technology, acquisition of larger parcels of land and within that a greater workforce.
When we ran out of available land to farm on, we cleared grasslands and forests. As a result, over the past 10,000 years, the world has lost one-third of its forests. Almost two-thirds the size of Africa. Half of this deforestation has happened in the last century. We have not just destroyed entire ecosystems in our quest for more, we have destroyed communities, robbed people of their dignity caused incredible harm to the very planet we call home. Was it not this greed that triggered colonisation, slavery, civil wars and now climate change?
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."
Intelligence is like a blazing fire. When controlled, it can provide light, warm up a space, and cook a meal...uncontrolled, it can consume everything in its path. While we have achieved much, we have lost so much more. The evidence of our loss is all around us. As we Swahili speakers say, mwenye macho haambiwi tazama (one who has eyes is not told to look)
So please open your eyes. What do you see? Heat waves, wildfires, prolonged drought, rising sea levels, flooding, catastrophic storms, and declining biodiversity! It's an environmental catastrophe! The natural world is fading. Animal species are going extinct. Weather patterns are becoming more and more unpredictable. Although these shifts may be natural, research has shown that since the 1800s human activities have been the main driver of climate change primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas.
I began by saying Intelligence is power, and with power comes great responsibility. Our responsibility as a species goes beyond the satisfaction of personal wants. Humans make up only 0.01% of life on earth but despite our numerical insignificance, there's clearly no doubt over whose dominion this is. This should awaken our senses to the very dominant role we have on Earth. Our intelligence (or lack thereof) got us here. I know it doesn't look good right now, but trust me, it's only going to get worse unless drastic action is taken. Yes, this can be reversed. While we cannot stop global warming overnight, we can slow the rate by reducing human emissions. It's our only shot at survival.
While there are many actions that must be taken by nations and international agencies to curb climate change and global warming, here are some action steps you, as an individual or family can take to reduce energy consumption and hence give the earth a much-needed break.
Here are ways in which you can be part of the journey towards a healthier, more sustainable earth:
Use energy-saving bulbs. It will not only reduce your electricity bill but also save our planet.
Drive less. Walk, bike, carpool or use public transport more often.
Recycle more. Think of your household waste, what items do you often throw away that could potentially be re-used or recycled?
Check your tires. Keeping your tyres inflated properly can reduce the amount of fuel spent by more than 3%, and with this economy, you might want to do that.
Take shorter and cooler showers. It takes a lot of energy to heat water, I know, it's cold, precisely why a 30-minute shower is not necessary.
Turn off electronic devices when you are not using them. Leaving the television on all say will not only consume a lot of energy but also cause some serious damage to your brain cells. Intelligence...remember?
Reduce water wastage. Don't leave the water running while you brush your teeth.
Power your house with renewable energy. Install solar panels if possible, expensive-yes! Our planet is worth the investment.
Plant a tree.
SPEAK UP! Tell your friends and family about the reality of climate change and encourage environment-friendly practices.
There is so much we can do to stop climate change! All hope is not lost. If we take action now...maybe...we can get back to the good ol' days.
In the comment section, please share with us your views on the topic of climate change, how has climate change affected your life as an individual, how do you think we got here and what can be done to control it. Remember...SPEAK UP!