The history of our blue and green planet is a truly extraordinary one. Formed some 4.5 billion years ago a relatively young age compared to that of the earth’s saw an outburst in the diversity of complex lifeforms half a billion years ago.
Abundant water, oxygen and carbon allowed life to thrive. Some 300,000 years ago, our own species, Homo sapiens, made its appearance, the lucky beneficiary of evolutionary processes on an Earth with an abundance of resources.
Animals as large as apartment blocks attest to that abundance of resources. Before long, humans applied their uncommon intelligence to employing resources such as stone, fire and minerals to create tools and metals. The history of our species is a remarkable story of ingenuity and progress.
The last 200 years, in particular, have seen exceptional developments in the capacities and inventions of human beings. The Industrial Revolution allowed us to produce all kinds of tools and objects in far greater numbers. Along with a demographic explosion, this has led us to our present day, where there are more mobile phones in existence than the 7.7 billion human beings alive.
Humans rely on about 30 elements from the periodic table to live, while an iPhone is made from more than 75 of the 118 elements. This is just one example of the scale of planetary resource exploitation that is required to satisfy our current lifestyles.
We don’t need Yuval Noah Harari to tell us that humans have done exponentially more damage to the planet in just a few thousand years than all other species combined over hundreds of millions of years.
We are no longer unaware of the extent of the environmental damage we are doing to our planet, or how rapidly this could constrain human existence in the near future.
Hassan bin Youssef Yassin
Getting 70 percent of the world’s population on board to play a daily role in limiting the damage to our planet is not an unattainable goal. Limiting car and airplane use, limiting our intake of meat products, and reducing waste are steps we can all implement in our daily lives.
I want to focus first on worldwide participation in reducing waste by, say, 15 percent over the next three years. This can include household, water, food or energy waste. Let us all participate and show that our species has not been irredeemably anaesthetized into ignorance and inaction.