Sample Ecology Essay on The Future of the Earth

The Future of the Earth

Various aspects that are dynamic characterize the world. Everything keeps changing with time ranging from climate, environment, politics, social lives, and economic status, which have led to continuous enhancements dating from the evolution period to the current modern man. Moreover, the world is dominated by diverse activities some of which are harmful, and others beneficial. The environment is not any different, human activities have from time immemorial changed the environmental conditions leading to disastrous events, such as global warming. Based on the current economic crises, floods, tribal clashes, droughts, and famine, an individual is left to wonder what the future holds for us. This paper focuses on evaluating some of the changes that are bound to take place in the future, and the necessary steps we should take to contain their effects.

The effects of nuclear weapons are real. The effects of using and testing them have already been seen in some parts of the world. For instance, when the western world considered banning the testing of nuclear weapons, India and Pakistan asserted their nuclear capabilities with multiple test and displays of nuclear bomb. This was followed by reports on Indian villagers showing signs of radiation sickness, such as vomiting, nosebleeds, irritation to skin, and eyes amongst other symptoms of contamination (Kuletz 237). In the United States, Southern Paiutes, Pueblo, and Navajo, Indians live in uranium mining regions. They are marginalized people whose bodies are characterized by effects of nuclearism. Powerful defense and energy programs often affect the rural indigenous people who experience the effects of these actions. The innocent victims whose cases are often underreported are under the mercies of state sanctioned violence of nuclear and militarized landscapes, which in the end affect the environment, their social lives, and crises.

Many governments have resorted in using the desert regions and large sparsely populated regions for nuclear waste dumps and nuclear testing (Kuletz 241). They view these regions as peripheral zones and economically unproductive regions thus transforming these areas into the largest militarized landscapes in the world. This violence to the environment is said to be the most extreme, which is never admitted by the bodies responsible for his kinds of pollution. Kuletz says that they use several mechanisms to deny 20th century nuclear colonialism, such as denying the harm done to the land and its people by downplaying the extent and consequences of lethal, legitimating the use of particular region for weapons testing, waste disposal, and war practice. They ignore and deny the existence of indigenous occupational and use of land, discrediting knowledge local inhabitants and masking as a form of development use of the land for unrehabilitative practices (242). The transuranic elements contain unique properties that lead to complex and problematic containment strategies. They have forever changed our relationship with this planet, our relationship with pother humans, and the species living there. The situation is bound to get worse in the near future.

The effects of radiation from these weapons may be visible, immediate, dramatic or terrifying. However, most times it is invisible and the victims only realize the profound effects way later. It invades cells, producing abnormal cellular growth termed as cancer, interferes with genetic structure, and produces mutations, extreme deformities and a variety of reproductive failures such as miscarriages and sterility (Kuletz 251). Institutions responsible for the release of the radioactive contaminants hide due to the time gap between exposure and the manifestation of the effects. The harms of these radiation promise to affect many future generations. The reality is that nuclear waste cannot be contained, the land cannot be rehabilitated.

For this reason, the continuous dumping of nuclear waste, use and testing of nuclear weapons is bound to give rise to a generation with an opaque future. The generations will be victims of physical deformities, sterile men and women, a cancerous and mutated generation that will be helpless in solving the several reproductive failures. The world will have a hard time in sustaining its people due to the high bills that will cripple the economy in trying to attend to the physically challenged; those sick with cancer and at the same time try to minimize the effects of the radiation. Moreover the world population will reduce compared to the reproduction levels due to increased death rates from radiation related diseases and sterility.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that civilization’s dependence on burning fossil fuels has boosted atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) from around 280ppm before the industrial revolution to 390ppm today. This is seen to be the highest concentration of CO2 during the last 10,000 years. Despite the fact that CO2 is important in maintaining the earth’s temperature that would otherwise be ice cold, over the past 150 years, we have loaded the sky with too much CO2 and the planet is heating up. CO2 functions like the green house glass that lets heat in and prevents it from radiating back to space. Pew Center on Global Climate explains that the earth’s average surface temperature has increased by 1.40F (0.80C) since the early years of the 20th century. It records the earliest warmest temperatures on record since 1850 as 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003, and 2007, this rise in temperature in enough to begin disrupting the climate equilibrium (Parenti 5-6).

The earth’s climate stable are increasingly giving way to destabilizing  positive loops in which departures from the norm build on themselves instead  of diminishing overtime. According to Parenti the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets that reflect large amounts of solar radiation into space and at the same time regulate the flow of ocean currents are melting much faster than was expected by the scientific predictions a few years ago (6). Loss of reflective ice means more solar radiation is being absorbed and the world is heating faster. Polar ice is melting rapidly, disgorging billions of gallons of fresh water, which alters the chemistry and currents of the oceans and adding volume   threatens to raise sea levels by up to a meter over this century.

Global warming is on the rise and its impacts are being felt through the extreme weather conditions, melting glaciers, incrementally rising sea levels, and desertification. Scientist’s analyzing the climate using computers agree that even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the air the CO2 levels are already very high. Harsh climatic change is a fact irrespective of fossil use. Global warming is an international political issue. Extreme weather events and kickoff kilter weather patterns are causing more humanitarian crises fueling civil wars.

The United Nations estimates that all except one of its emergency appeals for humanitarian aid in 2007 were climate related. Climate change affects 300 million people per year killing 300,000 of them. As forest fires, floods, droughts and new diseases get worse by the day, as many as 500,000 people could be killed per year due to climate change and the economic costs of these disruptions could reach $600 billion annually. Scientists believe that sea levels will rise by an average of 5 feet over the next 90 years, which will lead to massive dislocations. A study by Colombia University Centre for International Earth Science Information Network projects that 700 million climate refugees will be on the move by 2050 (Parenti 7).

The first modern era climate refugees were the five hundred Bangladeshi who were left homeless after half of Bhola Island flooded in 2005. By 2050, 22 million Bangladeshis will be forced to move from their homes due to climate change. In preparation for this, India is already building a militarized border fence along its 2500-mile frontier with Bangladesh and the student activists of India- Hindu rights are pushing vigorously for the mass deportation of Muslim Bangladeshi immigrants. Twenty-two Pacific island nations that are inhabited by 7 million people are planning for relocation as rising sea threaten them with national annihilation.

Furthermore Parenti says that climate change is not taking place singly, it is accompanied by many other problems in the political, social, economic, and environmental arena that can be well termed as catastrophic convergence (7). Across the planet, extreme weather and water scarcity now inflame and escalate existing social conflicts. The world today is dominated by politically and economically battered postcolonial states alongside climate change that is hitting hard. Societies that are so dependent on agriculture and fishing are very vulnerable to the shifts in weather patterns. The Swedish government study says that there are 46 countries inhabited by 2.7 billion people will be affected by global warming; economical, social, political and economic problems will create a high risk of violent conflict. These areas are also being most affected by the onset of anthropogenic climate change.

A report by Schwartz and Randall indicates heating up of the air is non-linear process thus giving a forecast of dark ages. They say that some nations may construct fortresses at the borders of their countries to preserve resources for themselves. Starvation, disease, as well as disaster associated with weather will strike up due to the related climatic changes thus requiring any nations to exceed their capacities. For this reason, there will be a sense of desperation that will lead to offensive agitation to regain balance. Moreover, they say that Europe will be under internal pressures, numerous refugees will be washing up at its shores, and Asia will be undergoing serious food and water crisis. Commotion and clashes will be prevalent in people’s lives. Warfare will be inevitable and the defining factor of human life.

Another report from the Pentagon envisioned global counterinsurgency. It termed climatic change as a catalyst for instability for some volatile regions in the world (Parenti 16). Currently, many governments in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are already encountering problems in terms of their ability to provide basic needs such as food, shelter, water and stability. The projected climate changes will amplify their problems and add to the problems of effective governance. The effects of climate change will result to multiple chronic conditions worldwide at the simultaneously. Financial and ecological conditions in these already vulnerable regions will further decline. As food production decreases, diseases will become more prevalent, clean water will be hardly available thus the reason for the massive migration of people to search for better living conditions. Destabilized and failing government with minimal chances for survival will offer the breeding ground for internal wrangles, radicalism, and adoption of authoritarianism and intolerant ideologies. Several nations will seek for help from the US to help provide reprieve, salvage and logistics or to steady conditions prior to conflicts arising

Furthermore, the report says that for those developing nations that do not have the necessary social infrastructure to cope with the stressors that may be brought by climate change will be vulnerable to mayhem, radicalism, and terror campaigns. Refugees and Asylum seekers will move due to ecological devastation thus become settlers. Even the most developed countries will find adaptation difficult after the abrupt climate change.

Parenti also cites a report released in 2007 called the ‘Age of Consequence’  which noted that the recent observations showed that predictions  drawn from climate models are too conventional; the impacts of climate change are showing much faster and spectacularly than were previously expected (17). It conceives future problems in terms of state collapse caused by sickness, unrestrained migration, and crop failure, which would overpower the established instruments of state security and other rudiments of a nation’s security sector.

Further, on it indicates that the world sea level is expected to rise by two meters accompanied by flooding thus the need for extraordinary effort for any country to salvage any other country, as it will be concentrating on its own salvation. People would react at once to all these calamities by being outraged at the government’s inability to control the sudden uproar of extremism, religious fanaticism and uncontrollable cults, violence and intolerant attitudes toward immigrants and minority groups. All these will be happening accompanied by demographic change, increased global migration, inter and interstate conflict over fresh water, resources and food. Philanthropy and generosity will be gone.

Another report by Australian Defense Forces noted that climate change has the potential to overpower nations that that are already vulnerable characterized by constant conflicts thus leading to political as well as security risks which have a direct impact on the interests of the European nations (Parenti 18). There is a possibility of conflict over  the inadequate resources due to minimal  land and reduced availability of water, poor economy especially at the coastal cities and poor infrastructure especially the third world countries, migration due to ecological conditions religious and political fanaticism and high levels of tension over energy provision.

Strong states with developed economies will succumb into politics of xenophobia, racism, police repression, surveillance, and militarism thereby transforming themselves into fortresses as the rest of the world slips into collapse. Developed countries will turn into neo-fascist islands for relative stability in a sea of chaos. In the long run the climatological collapse that is marked by hunger, disease, criminality, fanaticism and violent break down will overwhelm all the other surviving states thus sinking into the same quagmire. This could be solved by progressive political adaptation coupled by aggressive and immediate mitigation. It would involve societies moving toward greater cooperation and economic redistribution within states and between the north and south.

The looming catastrophic events do not mean that we should just sit back and wait. There are a number of things we can do to prevent the worst from happening to us. These efforts are termed as mitigation and adaptation strategies. Application of these strategies will help us to be fully prepared for these disasters and prevent massive human, property loss if any. First, we should drastically cut down the production and emission of CO2 alongside other greenhouse gases like methane and fluorocarbons, which prevent the sun’s heat from radiating back into space (Parenti 10). Mitigation would mean moving forward to clean energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and tidal kinetic power. It means closing coal fired power plants, weaning our economy off oil, building a smart electrical grid and making massive investments in carbon-capture and sequestration technologies.

Adaptation means that we get ready to live in the midst of the changes in climatic conditions. It is both a technical challenge as well as a political challenge. Parenti explains that the option of technical adaptation refers to adjusting the way we relate to nature even as nature changes (10). It will include living in the midst of all the damages in our environment today. This would be done by constructing sea wall at the borders of fragile coastal cities, planting mangroves and everglades to help in breaking the tides when confronted with violent storms,  giving way to wild life migration and adopting sustainable agricultural methods in the presence of swiveling weather patterns.

Political adaptation means that we need to transform humanity’s relations by changing the current social relations people (Parenti 10-11). A political adaptation method that can work is that which embodies the methods of containing the high levels of violence that are a result of climate change. This requires economic redistribution and development, new international relations of peace rebuilding.

Political adaptation that is currently done is a form of climate fascism that is bound to fail since the countries under pressure in the Global South cannot crumple alone but take down other wealthy economies. A better option should therefore be adopted due to the reason that if climate change is given a chance to demolish financial system and nations, no forms of weapons or barbed wire equipped aerial drones or permanently deployed mercenaries will save half of the planet and leave the other.

Aggressive emissions reductions need to start immediately to avoid climate change. This involves scaling up existing clean technology that will take massive investments and serious planning. We could also employ massive adaption methods by agro forestry or farmer managed natural regeneration. Countries such as Burkina Faso, Brazil, Mali, and Niger have already embraced these methods. This has consequently raised the water tables between five and seventeen meters. The UNDP has also worked in 29 countries that include community-based forestry and energy sufficiency projects in Kenya such as wind, solar-based electrification and solar power electricity to replace charcoal and diesel, improved watershed management, fighting desertification and protecting biodiversity. IPCC says that rich countries must cut their emission 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and thereafter make precious cuts to almost zero emissions (Parenti 230).

If we do not act now the average global temperatures are likely to increase by more than 2 degrees. This will in essence trigger a dangerous positive feedback loop that will unleash self-compounding, runaway climate change. For instance if the permafrost of the arctic keeps melting and the massive stores of methane beneath it are released  global warming will accelerate radically because methane is over twenty times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

From the above discussion, it is evident that the future is not so bright both for us and for the generations to come. The current crises that range from the political, social, economic, and environmental arena are indicators of a bleak and disastrous future here on earth. It is therefore our responsibility to rise up to the occasion and reconstruct the future by taking the necessary mitigation and adaptation actions to save the lives of the innocent generations. An important aspect to consider when doing all these is that we should be time conscious since as noted earlier all these changes are taking place faster than initially predicted.


Works Cited

Kuletz, Valerie. Invisible Spaces, Violent Places: Cold War Nuclear and Militarized Landscapes: [from a Workshop on “violence and the Environment” Held at the University of California, Berkeley, in September 1998]. Ithaca, NY [u.a.: Cornell Univ. Press, 2001. Print.

Parenti, Christian. Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. New York: Nation Books, 2001. Print.