Last week I wrote about Professor Stephen Hawking and his belief that humanity’s future lies in colonising other worlds. Well, the professor is back in the news. In an interview celebrating his 75th birthday he condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, saying that it could lead to irreversible climate change and make the Earth an inhospitable and uninhabitable planet.
We all know that human activity is causing environmental damage (well, all of us except for Mr Trump). But what exactly are we doing that is so bad for the Earth? Here are three of the worst culprits:
Exhaust gases. A major problem and the main cause of the greenhouse effect, not to mention the loss of the ozone layer. Factories, power stations and vehicles all produce gases which are harmful to the environment. Carbon dioxide is the worst offender but there are others, such as methane, which could do even more harm.
Deforestation. Since civilisation began humans have been clearing trees – to gather resources like wood, and to clear land for homes or farms. But deforestation has got out of hand. We’ve destroyed most of the world’s forests which has deprived Earth of trees – the main tool it uses to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases combined with deforestation is a recipe for disaster.
Population Explosion. The number of humans is going up at an incredible rate and this is by far the most damaging effect of humans on our planet. Every one of us needs food and a home, which both take up a share of the limited resources. In addition, we consume electricity and produce waste. The more of us there are, the worse the problem gets.
There are many other ways in which we’re harming the planet – chemical effluent polluting rivers, sprawling cities warming the air and affecting the water cycle, secondary pollutants causing damage we’d never have expected… The destruction we are spawning is undeniable. If the population keeps on growing as it has been, it’s difficult to see how, on Earth, we can all be catered for.