Environmental sustainability requires everyone to practice sustainable living, not only at home but even at work or at school. Living sustainably entails great consideration of the impact our actions have on the environment. At its core is the concern for the living condition of the future generations and love for the planet that shelters us. Even the simplest sustainable living practices are actions of love and concern. Below are a few reminders why environmental sustainability is important now more than ever.
Environmental Sustainability Issue | 3 Alarming Studies
1. If the Global Population Lived Like Americans, We Would Need 4 Earths to Provide Enough Resources
Through Global Footprint Network’s ecological footprinting efforts, it came up with a unit of measurement that can describe the impact of humans on the planet — global hectares. With this unit of measurement, defined as the biologically productive hectare with world-average bio-productivity, GNF gauged how much land, sea, and other natural resources are used to produce what people consume.
The key questions GFN asks, according to its director and co-founder Mathis Wackernagel are: “If there is one planet – how much planet is available per person and how much planet do we use per person.”
For example, according to GNF, the average Americans uses seven global hectares. Using this figure Wackernagel’s team calculated that it would take four Earths – 3.9 Earths to be precise – to sustain seven billion people at American levels of consumption.
Compare seven global hectares to the global average of 2.7 global hectares and we can see how higher levels of consumption can increase the depletion of the planet’s resources.
Furthermore, GNF also reported that the world’s population was already using 1.5 Earths’ in 2015. This estimation puts into account the amount of carbon dioxide the population is emitting. Since we are at a rate where we are emitting more than the planet can handle, the GNF team computed how much extra land and sea would be needed to absorb it — an extra half a planet.
2. 16 of the 17 Warmest Years in the 1880-present Global Surface Temperature Record Occurred in the 21st Century
— NapBot (@napbot) August 14, 2017
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) keeps track of the change in the planet’s global surface temperature. In its Vital Signs of The Planet data, it showed that 16 of the 17 warmest years since 1880 took place since 2001, with the exception of 1998.
2016 ranks as the warmest on the record with a reported change in global surface temperature of 0.99 °C.
The change in the world’s temperature has always been a topic closely monitored by scientists. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a major report on the science of climate change predicting a rise by 2°C and 4.5°C by 2100 in the world’s temperature, relative to pre-industrial temperatures. A decade later we’ve incurred half the predicted 2°C already.
What are the implications of this change in temperature exactly? Catherine Brahic listed the estimates of the impact for each degree of temperature rise based on a major report published by Nicholas Stern, chief British government economist, in October 2006:
- Small Andean glaciers disappear, threatening water supplies for 50 million people
- Cereal yields in temperate regions increase slightly
- At least 30,000 people die every year from climate-related diseases, but winter mortality in Northern Europe and US drops
- 80% of coral reefs are bleached, including the Great Barrier Reef
- The Atlantic thermohaline circulation starts to weaken
- Water availability in some vulnerable regions (Southern Africa and Mediterranean) could drop by 20% – 30%
- Crop yields in Africa drop by 5% – 10%
- 40 – 60 million more people are exposed to malaria in Africa
- Up to 10 million more people are affected by coastal flooding
- Arctic species, including the polar bear and caribou, run a high risk of extinction
- The Greenland ice sheet could begin an irreversible melt
3. The Arctic Region Might be Completely Ice-free in Summer 2040
23 years from now, the Arctic may no longer have any ice.
Researchers, with the help of computer models that can simulate climate changes, were able to analyze how global warming could affect sea ice. According to the study published in Geophysical Research Letters, if the emission of greenhouse gases continues at their current rate, most of the Arctic basin will be ice-free in September 2040.
This video captures the importance of living a sustainable life:
The key to environmental sustainability is to live sustainably. It aids in the effort of keeping the world’s natural system of replenishing its resources, our resources back to its natural pace. As a Native Indian proverb says, “This world can only continue to exist if we remember that we do not inherit the world from our ancestors but borrow it from our children.”
How do you practice sustainability at home? Share with us how you show love and concern for the planet by commenting below.