Save Our Planet
Why is it important to care about the environment?
The ecosystem (all of the living organisms found in our planet) in which we live provides natural resources for humans and all other species that are essential to our health, quality of life and our very survival. Damaged or imbalanced ecosystems can cause a whole lot of problems.
For example, our forests remove carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air we breathe and also cool our air temperatures, reducing the formation of ground-level ozone, a pollutant that can cause heart and lung problems.
Our wetlands store storm water, filter and make harmless storm water pollutants, and recharge our aquifers (where most of us get our drinking water) with these filtered waters; and the dune systems on our beaches form natural barriers to storm waves and provide important habitat and travel ways for wildlife.
Ecosystems are made up of soil, sunlight and heat, water, and living organisms which include plants, animals, and decomposers. A small change in an ecosystem, such as the elimination or introduction of one species, can cause changes throughout the entire ecosystem.
Humans pollute the land, water and air with garbage. Almost 2.4 billion people don’t have access to clean water. Pollution can threaten or kill organisms that are central to ecosystems, causing the ecosystem to become imbalanced.
The U.S. alone produces 147 metric tons of air pollution. In some countries, the smog caused by air pollution is deadly and can block out the sun in a dense haze. It is rare to find a beach in the world that doesn’t have litter.
Humans produce about 300 million tons of plastic each year. More than 8 million tons of that plastic are dumped into the oceans, and in 2017, an estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic littered our seas. The plastic in the oceans has devastating effects on wildlife.
Environmental scientists have been warning us for decades that the CO₂ emissions that come from burning fossil fuels are affecting the planet’s ecosystem. The increase of CO₂ in the atmosphere traps heat that would otherwise escape into space, increasing the Earth’s overall temperature. This has caused Arctic ice and glaciers to melt and raise ocean levels. The loss of reflective ice and increase in water, which absorbs heat, adds to the rising temperatures in a cycle that is predicted to cause ocean levels to rise 1 to 4 feet by 2100.
The use of genetic modified organisms, or GMOs, has played an important role in increasing crop yields so we can feed our populations. GMO’s provide better crop yields, modified plants that are better able to resist disease and parasites, tolerate more extreme temperatures, or thrive with less water. However, modifying plants has not always been intentional. For example, continued use of herbicides, like glyphosate, has caused many weeds to become immune to their effects. In fact, 249 species of weeds are now immune to all normally used herbicides. The only way to get rid of them is to till the soil, which exposes the soil to sunlight and kills the organisms that help make the land fertile.
For every corn field you see, chances are good there was once a forest in its place. As our population continues to increase, humans create more and larger farms, which means removing the dwindling number of forests. Forests are also cleared for the lumber that we use to build our houses and to make room for new houses. About 18 million acres of trees are clear-cut every year for wood. This has devastating effects for the wildlife that once called those forests home.
Positive Effects of Human Activities:
Every time you recycle used paper, plastic or metal, or pick up a piece of trash from the sidewalk, you have a positive impact on the environment. In 2011, for example, a 16 year old inventor named Boyan Slat, created a device that can sweep the plastic from the ocean. He later founded The Ocean Cleanup project to begin putting that technology to use. It could clean up half the plastic currently in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years.