Human behavior is accelerating climate change, and setting in motion a chain of events that may put the future of our species in jeopardy. Those who acknowledge the negative impact of human development accept this and desperately want to do something about it. We find it hard to swallow when others refuse to acknowledge or even consider the scientific facts that prove humans are altering the Earth’s climate in dangerous ways.
The sad truth is that denying climate change won’t prevent it from happening. In fact, a new study published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature shows that the planet is approaching a dangerous climate tipping point, and our destructive habits are pushing it toward the edge.
Throughout the eons the Earth has gone through several drastic biological changes, many of which wiped out thousands of then-living species in traumatic mass extinctions. ”Humans are now forcing another such transition, with the potential to transform Earth rapidly and irreversibly into a state unknown in human experience,” wrote the study’s international panel of authors.
The researchers say a combination of variables are forcing the planet toward irreversible biological changes, including exploding global population, rapidly rising temperatures and the clearance of more than 40 percent of Earth’s surface for urban development or agriculture. They also warn that ignoring these changes, and our role in fast-tracking them, is a dangerous gamble.
“The net effects of what we’re causing could actually be equivalent to an asteroid striking the Earth in a worst-case scenario,” the paper’s lead author, Anthony Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, said in an interview with the LA Times. “I don’t want to sound like Armageddon. I think the point to be made is that if we just ignore all the warning signs of how we’re changing the Earth, the scenario of losses of biodiversity — 75% or more — is not an outlandish scenario at all.”
No, the Earth isn’t going to suddenly implode because there are too many SUVs or because you leave the air conditioning running when you’re not home. But if deforestation, population growth, and consumption of fossil fuels continues at the current pace, our children will be left with “a biologically impoverished Earth that would rob humans of vital ecological services such as insects that pollinate crops, forests that provide clean water, and tropical species that are the source of new drugs.”
Yet again, scientists are echoing what environmentalists have been saying for decades: even if we can’t agree on what’s causing climate change, we must acknowledge that IT IS happening and WE ARE making it worse. Doing so will allow us to prepare for what’s ahead, and minimize the negative impact on society. Refusing to acknowledge that our actions have consequences only guarantees that they will be swift and severe.
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