A New Chapter

Life really does play out in chapters….

The Human Impact

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I always put a lot of work into my papers that I wrote while I was in school and I liked this one so much that I thought I might share it. I was a bit of a tree-hugger so that explains why I was so passionate about the theme of this paper.

The Human Impact

There are people out there who still deny that this world is in the middle of a pandemic. The most threatening creatures on the planet Earth are humans.  The impact that we have on the earth has been monumental compared to the colossal dinosaurs that walked here before us. It just goes to show that it does not matter the size of the organism, the impact can still be considerable. Take, for example, microscopic, single cell life forms which may have been the first things to be on this planet. Some scientists believe that we my have even evolved from them.  This makes me wonder why billions of years ago when all there was on the earth was single-celled life forms, why the world was in such good shape. It is not age that has harmed our earth but the very inhabitants in it. Every individual can have different amounts of impact but with all of us together on one planet, every individual’s actions make a substantial difference.  We are completely oblivious to the real amount of food, non-renewable recourses, and other products we use, waste, and produce, throughout a lifetime. Even the economy is helping us destroy this beautiful planet.  We are all responsible for what may be the greatest preventable holocaust in the history of earth.

The nation consumes around 1,659,630,427 pounds of food every day. Just to make breakfast 19,826 eggs, about 17,170 loaves, and around 26,112 cups of milk are drank (Hogart). What we do not see is the time and energy that it took to get the eggs, toast, and milk to the breakfast table. You need around 2.1 million cows that are eating 220 pounds of grass a day just to support our main source of milk. I heard that we are the only mammal who continues to drink milk after we stop breastfeeding. I am beginning to wonder if that is a bad thing. There are many people who cannot even consume milk because their body cannot digest it properly, but, unfortunately, the people who can drink milk make up it by eating mass amounts of cereal, butter, and other products made from milk.

Not only are we consuming food at an alarming rate but we are also consuming other commodities of life as well.  One of the worst consumptions that is taking place right now is alcohol. 10.6% of the population’s youth are binge drinkers, and 2.5% are heavy drinkers (U.S.). Cigarettes are a very big habit of ours that is extremely bad for the environment and the people in it. If a person starts smoking at age 17 all the way until he is 71, he will consume over 300,000 sticks of cancer. If you pile up 300,000 cigarettes and then multiply that by the amount of people who smoke in the world, which is about 30% (Shaw),  then I do not see why all of our landfills are not full with just cigarettes. They say the reason why people continue with such destructive behavior is because of stress related issues in their life. If a world in crisis is not enough to stress out about, then I do not know what is. Though bad behavior is not the answer to the problems, it is not hard to understand where the youth are coming from.

We do not just destroy the earth with just our waste but our production as well. Oil production has been one of the most useful things for humans; unfortunately, it is one of the most devastating for nature. With oil or petrol we can make almost anything such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, computers, all plastics, cars, gas to run your cars a never-ending list. You cannot go a day without using oil made products, not only in America but in all the rest of the world as well. We all know that oil is not a renewable resource, yet we pretend like the day will never come that there is no more gas at the gas pump. Almost 40% of the world’s oil reserves are in Saudi Arabia (Nelder). They are now spending millions if not billions of dollars drilling off shore because they have not hit any big oil patches on land. These are things that we do not think about when we start our car every morning to get ourselves to work and our children off to school. Solving the problem of oil is going to be one of the toughest habits we will have to kick. It is almost becoming more expensive to drill for oil then the pay out for the new well will produce, because the places that oil are located are harder to access, drill, and send to the places that need to use it. Just making a new product that takes the place of oil so that we can continue living the way that we do, pretending there is not a disaster in the making is not a possibility in our future. For example, the product ethanol is very popular and people think that it will be the solution so they do not have to worry about changing; unfortunately, what people do not know about the wonder product is that it is more expensive to produce then just gas from crude oil. Also, in case you did not know, ethanol is made out of a corn extract. For the amount of oil we use a day, we would have to fill up all the farming land on earth to produce enough to make ethanol the fuel of tomorrow. Crude oil it is much more expensive because it is used to generate everything, and you get 1 barrel of oil for 23,200 hours of human work. (Hogart) If you start thinking about how much we consume, the numbers are outrageous. In the entire world, we produce 85,472,000 barrels a day that sounds like a large enough number to support the world, until you take into account that we consume 85,534,000 a day. We have gone past the point where we’re are consuming faster than we can make the product. The fight for oil has almost ripped humanity apart; we will do anything to get our hands on some of that “black gold”. The previous Presidents of the United States said that they wanted to drill for oil in one of the last natural places on earth. In Alaska, there Is a wildlife reserve for endangered animals, because that is one of the few places on earth that we have not gone and thrown animals out so we can have another highway and another Wal-Mart. Since the energy crisis, we have not conserved energy the previous president thinks that an increase in energy supply, rather than a decrease in demand is a problem solving method unfortunately there is just not enough energy to over compensate for the overwhelming demand.

There are other products we waste as well, please do not think of waste as just feces there is also toilet paper, condoms, feminine products, and, of course, everything else our children decide they do not need anymore and they flush it down the toilet. Speaking of children, they consume a great deal for being so little. When we grow up, we continue to consume as if nothing is going to happen. Babies who are still young enough to use diapers cost plenty and use a lot of resources. It seems to not be of very much concern because people think that babies only use them for a few years so they do not really use up that much, here are some examples of all the waste we accumulate over our lives:

  • Babies young enough to use diapers use about 3,800 before the age of two
  • On Christmas we waste over 90,000 yards of wrapping paper a year
  • About 178,000,000 aluminum cans are made every day ( almost 2,000 every second)
  • There are around 3,000 Christmas card sent and trashed every year
  • 60 million plastic bottles produced every day
  • 64 tons of waste sent to landfills over the span of an average human life (around 74 years)
  • 246 million tons are driven to are nations landfills every year

We still don’t know how long it takes for plastic to degrade. Once you hear the number you begin to realize just how much of an impact just one person can have on an entire planet (Hogart).

People say that ignorance is bliss, but if we continue being ignorant to this life threatening problem, then life as we know it for everyone will be over. This is not a problem that we can just fix. This is a problem that most of us will not even realize until we really are in a visible crisis, when there are riots in the streets and supermarkets just to get the last of all the resources left. Once the public is in a state of panic, and only when we are in a state of panic, will we realize that we need to change our ways. History tends to repeat itself, and there have been plenty of droughts, famine and natural disasters to warn us to prepare for what is coming. All of the places that we considered to be third world countries might not be affected as much since they will not really have to get used to living without the simple luxuries that we have every day.

After we consume billions of tons of oil, eat and waste billions of tons of product, what could we do to change our inevitable future? There is not just one answer to just one problem, because there is not just one problem. There will not just be one smart person who comes along and saves the world; it will take all 6.7 billion people on this earth. There are new inventions every day, and every day we are moving closer to a cure for this disease we have created for ourselves. Take, for example, the car that runs on air. This does not have parts that you can just plug into your old car. This car uses new technology never before thought of, enough energy to power a car. It uses compressed air to move the pistons instead of a combustible explosion. As far as emissions, there are none. This car can push out clean cool air as it is driving, and you will never have to fill the tank, because it just recompresses the same air. If this is not an inspirational thought to make you think there is hope for us humans after all, then I do not know what is. There are many innovative applications in the world today that strive to be energy-efficient and eco-safe. For example, they have begun building homes out of new materials, such as mud or clay mixtures, dug outs of hillsides some of the ideas might not be the brightest. In my opinion, tree houses are just asking for trouble, but there is a skilled craftsman who makes 10 to 15 a year.

Not long ago I heard of a man who was on a mission to make little to no impact on the planet he used his family in the experiment to see if it was possible for an average American family can live without the everyday comforts. Not only was it possible for this man and his small family to live without the daily comforts that we take for granted but he also helped his wife reverse the signs of diabetes with a simple change in diet and preparation of food. This just goes to show you that there is a way to live without all the luxuries we tricked ourselves into “needing” instead of just wanting. By just using reusable instead of disposable we could cut our daily trash by more than half.  As a result of just buying food and other products that is not prepackaged and wrapped in plastics and boxes you save trees, oil, and all kinds of other resources that we can never use again.

Weather we are able to admit it or not, we are living in a world in crisis. We have become dependent on the comforts that this new civilized world has to offer. We take for granted the fact that we can go to the sink and fresh clean water is available at any given time, the fact that when we are cold we can just go and turn on a switch to fill our homes with warm clean air, we have light every time we turn on a light switch. These are the same day-to-day things that we can now, not live without. Without these simple conveniences, maybe we would spend more of our time being productive instead of spending time polluting the earth with our life simplifying products. All of it is bound to come to an end. Even though this cure to this worldly disease does not offer much insight to solutions to our current problems that is why they call it a “crisis” that we are in. If we were just changing everything to adapt to the new world ahead of us, it would be called a revolution.

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Author: Sharine

24 years old ~ Technical Designer @Boeing

4 thoughts on “The Human Impact

  1. Very interesting post! I have been concerned for a while about all the issues you raised here but it is always very useful for me to read things like this and try in a small way to be less wasteful. It’s very frustrating to look around and see how much rubbish humans leave. In my street, some households with less people than mine have twice as much rubbish outside to be collected on Thursday’s. In the UK we are fast running out of landfill space being a small island!!

    • Thank you for you the comment and stopping by my blog I appreciate it. I was very concerned about the issues I talked about while I was in school most of my papers were based around spreading the word and educating people on the issues at hand. I am glad that my paper didn’t go to waste and end up in a teachers desk never to be seen again, I thought it was worth telling the world. Thanks again for sharing your point of view and leaving a reply. 🙂

  2. We can’t be reminded of our impact too much. Wonderful paper! Some years ago I was at the movies and a short clip came on the screen about recycling – thanking the audience! for our contributions, along with statistics on what was made and how many trees saved and water energy preserved because of it. Sometimes I can feel pretty badly about my negative impact as a human being so now and then it’s also nice to know some mindfulness is making a difference. Maybe some day a fuel will be invented that uses all the plastic and styrofoam floating in our oceans. It could happen.

    • Thanks for commenting, and yes I hope they could make something useful out of all that trash floating out in the ocean, that would be nice. Stop by my blog any time 🙂

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