The global community is currently at a crossroads. The world powers of the 20th century are dealing with issues such as an aging population, while non-Western countries are on the rise. The population has steadily continued to grow. Regardless of where countries are in their respective timelines, there is one shared issue that Earth must cooperate to begin to tackle: the ecological wellbeing of our planet, which is currently in a poor state. In order to responsibly inhabit the Earth with this increased population, we must approach world a different way.
In the next decade, creative problem solving methods will be necessary to combat issues that will arise in security, resource management, and economics. Although mankind is currently in an uphill battle to help ease the damage we have done to the Earth, we continue to fight one another, furthering environmental issues. Different weapons of mass destruction threaten the ecological wellbeing of the Earth.
According to the FBI, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are “any destructive device…any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors; and weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector…any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life” (“Weapons of Mass Destruction FAQ” 1).
In this definition, the measurement of the impact is based on human life and limb. In reality, WMDs being used would devastate the environment.
A nuclear weapon is an example of a WMD. Nuclear warheads have only been used twice, both times by the United States against Japan at the end of World War II in 1945. On impact, “the 15 kilotonne bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 destroyed 13 square kilometers of the Japanese city. The heart of the explosion reached several million degrees centigrade. Everybody within half a mile of the centre of the blast was killed and 92 per cent of the city's structures were destroyed or damaged” (“Nuclear Weapons- The Facts” 1). Although this was prior to modern advances in the field of nuclear weaponry, the bomb was still able to wipe out a large part of the city.
The damage done by these bombs goes beyond the immediate impact. There were 225,000 people that died because of acid rain, radiation, and other causes related to the bombings in the five years following the bombing (“Nuclear Weapons- The Facts 1).Not only were people exposed to this radiation, but so was the Earth and other living things in the area. Radiation is harmful to all living things, and we should not intentionally cause it to happen. According to New Internationalist magazine, "there are over 27,000 nuclear weapons in the world.
Thousands are deployed on land, at sea and in the air, posing the constant threat of nuclear war and radioactive contamination” (“Nuclear Weapons – The facts" 1). These bombs are much stronger than the ones dropped on Japan seventy years ago. As a global community, we are responsible for ensuring that nuclear weapons are not used again because of the damage they inflict on our Earth. In order to do this, nations must feel as if there will be repercussions for their actions. Because traditional warfare is so ecologically costly, we must take this issue to cyberspace. To keep governments from using WMDs, hackers can be hired to do a variety of different things to discourage weapon use. Taking away the Internet from a society of this generation would be devastating, as it is used for just about everything.
Hospitals, grocery stores, schools, and everything else would not be able to operate how they normally do. Governments would not want to run the risk of their constituents no longer being able to live their daily lives in the way they are accustomed, as this would sour the attitude towards the leadership. Hackers could also corrupt files and destroy information, getting destroying vital information stored online. Other WMDs such as chemical or biological weapons are also extremely harmful to the environment, and should also be controlled as well. Using resources well is imperative in this stage of the Earth's life.
Today, we are consuming the planet's natural resources faster than they are able to be replenished. Fossil fuels are a part of this issue. There is currently "enough oil to last the world 53.3 years at the current production rates” (Smith 2). Mankind must end their dependence on fossil fuels because they will not be able to rely on them forever. It may seem as if having some time before complete exhaustion of these resources decreases the urgency to find new energy sources. However, the use of fossil fuels has some enormous ecological costs. "Fossil fuels release carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide etc, when burnt that can have severe consequences on the habitats” (“Disadvantages of Fossil Fuels” 1). These gases that result because of combustion are poison to the environment. Carbon dioxide is "one of the primary gases responsible for global warming” (“Disadvantages of Fossil Fuels” 1). Also, “sulphur dioxide is one of the pollutant that is released when fossil fuels are burnt and is a main cause of acid rain” (“Disadvantages of Fossil Fuels” 1).
Acid rain will change the acidity in soils, over time potentially making land infertile. Large bodies of water are also affected by fossil fuel use. Transporting fossil fuels occasionally will lead to oil spills. Oil spills "leave waterways and their surrounding shores uninhabitable for some time. Such spills often result in the loss of plant and animal life” (“The Hidden Cost of Fossil Fuels” 2). Thankfully, alternative energy sources are in use to varying degrees in many countries. There is plenty of energy on Earth that can be harnessed for human use that are much less damaging to the environment. However, research has not yet been fully developed. Countries that are importing oil should be testing all kinds of clean alternative energies.
Because they are having to get the oil sent to them from outside of the country, their footprint is larger than those producing their own oil. It would be advantageous for each of these governing bodies to continue to fund research on more alternatives to energy. These scientists should continue to examine solar and wind power to try to increase the energy created per unit of sun or wind, respectively. There are also other kinds of energy they could try to convert into storable energy, for instance the energy coming from sound waves. The developing world must develop with clean energy, and it is unfair to them until a reliable, cost-effective clean energy source is found. Thus, we must expedite our search for clean energy. Economics is a driving factor in why the Earth has turned out the way it has. Since the Industrial Revolution, the world economy is based on capitalism and mass-produced goods.
Capitalism relies on growth as a measurement of success. Growth in the goods industry also means consuming more resources. We must be cognizant of our level of production. "Industrial pollution is one of the primary sources of environmental contamination. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air pollution levels rose 14 percent from 1990 to 2008” (Rogers 1). If we continue to produce the same quantity of goods per capita while having an increasing population, air pollution levels will continue to rise globally. If production is the problem, reducing production would alleviate some of the stress humans have on the environment. However, the movement of money is still essential within an economy. The emphasis being moved from producing goods to providing services within an economy could soften the ecological impact of an economy. As opposed to consistently replacing broken goods, jobs could be put in place to fix things.
A government could motivate people to follow these patterns by giving tax breaks to those not buying products new. If production is decreased, the lifespan of goods would lengthen out of necessity. Also, the omnipresent nature of the Internet must be taken advantage of. Many services can be provided entirely through computers and the Internet.
Production within cyberspace consumes no resources other than the electricity necessary to power the computer. Moving forth, the world community must approach security, resource management, and economics in a modified way in order to protect the Earth. If mankind does not take initiative and shift the manner in which they live together, the damage done to the Earth will prove fatal to the species. However, if the global community acts together, there is an opportunity that people will have the opportunity to live in a stable, healthy Earth once more.