This is a guest post by David Suzuki.
April is Earth Month, and April 22 Earth Day. We should really celebrate our small blue planet and all it provides every day, but recent events give us particular cause to reflect on our home and how we’re treating it.
Through an amazingly ordered combination of factors, this spinning ball of earth, air, fire and water – with its hydrological, carbon, nitrogen and rock cycles, biological diversity and ideal distance from the sun – provides perfect conditions for human life to flourish. But with our vast and rapidly increasing numbers, breakneck technological advances, profligate use of resources and lack of concern for where we dump our wastes, we’re upsetting the balance.
We’re a relatively new species, but we’re altering the geological properties of Earth to the extent that many scientists refer to this epoch as the Anthropocene – from the Greek anthropos meaning “human” and kainos meaning “recent”.
When Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8, crews in planes and boats set out to search the Indian Ocean. Debris sightings raised hopes that the crash site was located, but they turned out to be endless streams of garbage that humans have been dumping into the oceans for ages – plastic bottles and bags, fishing gear, household wastes, cigarette butts, detritus from shipping containers, even bits of space shuttle rocket boosters.
We now have massive swirling garbage patches in our oceans, and thousands of birds and fish from remote seas turning up dead, their bellies full of plastic and flotsam.