“The earth provides enough to satisfy everyone’s need but not enough to satisfy everyone’s greed” This quote by the father of our nation Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is now amongst his most well-known. But what does it really mean? It means that the earth has abundant resources to satisfy everyone’s needs but, in our greed, and hurry to develop, we have been recklessly exploiting these resources. In the name of development, we have indulged in activities such as deforestation, overgrazing, encroachment into forest lands, overuse of ground water, use of plastics, etc. The exploitation of natural resources not only harms the environment but may cripple the future generations of the development process itself.
The world is increasingly managed in a way that maximises the flow of material from nature, to meet rising human demands for resources like food, energy and timber. As a result, humans have directly altered at least 70% of Earth’s land, mainly for growing plants and keeping animals. These activities necessitate deforestation, the degradation of land, loss of biodiversity and pollution, and they have the biggest impacts on land and freshwater ecosystems. About 77% of rivers longer than 1,000 kilometres no longer flow freely from source to sea, despite supporting millions of people. The main cause of ocean change is overfishing, but 66% of the ocean’s surface has also been affected by other processes like runoff from agriculture and plastic pollution. In addition, fewer varieties of plants and animals are being preserved due to standardisations in farming practices, market preferences, large-scale trade and loss of local and indigenous knowledge
The wildlife population is in a fall around the world, driven by human overconsumption, population growth and intensive agriculture, according to a major new assessment of the abundance of life on Earth. On average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles plunged by 68% between 1970 and 2016, according to the WWF. Two years ago, the figure stood at 60%. Latin America and the Caribbean recorded the most alarming drop, with an average fall of 94% in the populations of vertebrate wildlife. Reptiles, fish and amphibians in the region were the most negatively affected, driven by the overexploitation of ecosystems, habitat fragmentation and diseases. Africa and the Asia Pacific region have also experienced large falls in the abundance of wildlife, dropping 65% and 45% respectively. Europe and Central Asia recorded a fall of 24%, while populations dropped 33% on average in North America. According to the UN’s global assessment report in 2019, due to human activity one million species on the planet are at a risk. Deforestation and the conversion of wild spaces for human food production have largely been blamed for the destruction of Earth’s web of life. It has been highlighted that 75% of the Earth’s ice-free land has been significantly altered by human activity, and almost 90% of global wetlands have been lost since 1700.
The Earth is dying and is up to us, the future generation, to protect it from all the harmful toxins and other pollutants. We only have one home with limited resources which we share with a billion other species of wildlife. Steps have to be taken no matter how small to save our beautiful mother planet and leave a home for our future generations.