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Page added on April 18, 2018

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Our selfishness is ruining our planet


April 22 is Earth Day, which is important for several reasons. For many, the sole purpose of this day is to seemingly remind them about the harmful impacts a variety of practices can have on their health. From sensationalized advertisements about cancer-causing pollutants, to statistics about food waste and crops dying, a lot of what we tend to focus on about Earth Day has one specific interest group: us. That isn’t ridiculous, of course, as we tend to care about things in our own lives before looking at the broader perspective, and it is important for us to understand how polluting our environment can hurt us. But this selfishness isn’t going to be helpful in the long run, both to the earth and all of its other inhabitants.

Humans are selfish creatures. To some extent, this is necessary for us if we are to hold our spot as the dominant intelligent species on this planet. We fill in wetlands to build neighborhoods, slash and burn acres of forests, drill for fossil fuels and corral animals into tiny cages to provide us with food to eat. All of these have massive environmental impacts, yet we continue to practice them daily. Why? Because we can’t see it or feel it harming us as we reap profits.

Activities that explicitly harm us are what worry people. When we literally used hairspray like there was no tomorrow back in the ‘80s, we soon learned about the impacts of volatile organic compounds and chlorofluorocarbons like aerosols on our health, and changed the problematic formulas. The study on it even won chemists Mario Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland a Nobel Prize, according to Understanding Science, University of Berkeley. When it was revealed that these chemicals caused ozone depletion, it was exposed to the public that it could cause cancer, cataracts and immune problems. Suddenly the ingredients, and the public’s opinion on hairspray, was drastically altered.

But why do things need to be put into the context of human harm before we care about it? With deforestation, entire forests are destroyed for the creation of products like paper, palm oil or towels, which benefit our daily lives. The destruction, however, doesn’t benefit the environment. When rainforests are cleared using slash and burn techniques to be utilized for agriculture, the land is only successful for a few seasons, because the nutrients in these natural ecosystems are trapped in the foliage, not the soil. In addition, our habits can have horrific and unpredictable impacts on animal life.

In the case of the palm oil industry, it is estimated that 90 percent of orangutans’ habitats have been destroyed over the past 20 years due to the harvesting of this ingredient, according to Say No to Palm Oil. Unfortunately for orangutans, humans really like peanut butter with palm oil, which gives it the classic, creamy texture we’re all used to, even though it can be made without it. Thus, because of this preference, we continue to harm orangutans and their habitat for our benefit.

Another example is that of microplastics. Microplastics are small particles of plastic that may come from the breaking down of bottles, exfoliating beads in facial cleansers and even glitter, among other things. More recently in the news, the use of microplastics has been scrutinized for its damaging impacts on marine ecosystems. We were aware that the plastic we use on a daily basis can get washed into the ocean and stays there for hundreds of years, and it should be common sense that this can harm fish and other marine life. However, it wasn’t until scientists found that humans have begun ingesting these plastics in the fish they consume that it became a problem. Why wasn’t the fact that it kills animals, ruins diverse and unique ecosystems and pollutes our water enough to convince the majority of our population that microplastics are bad?

Of course, not everyone out there is oblivious to environment issues — but the firepower of those who are just isn’t enough. Plenty of well-informed people make educated decisions about their habits and even dedicate their lives to protecting the environment, but unfortunately for Earth, these people cannot save the planet without global support. We as a species need to be more aware of life around us and realize that our selfish practices are ruining our planet, whether we can feel it or not.

The Current

9 Comments on "Our selfishness is ruining our planet"

  1. Jef on Wed, 18th Apr 2018 8:33 am 

    A bunch of ignorant why’s.

    Why is it that if humans don’t go to work in the morning, do absolutely whatever it takes regardless of consequences in order to get money, they and their loved ones will feel great pain, suffering and die?

    Until you change that you change nothing.

  2. Sissyfuss on Wed, 18th Apr 2018 9:41 am 

    It is said that the the strong survive and the weak die off. But in truth the strong only survive a bit longer before they die as well. If mankind could accept his temporal fate maybe then he wouldn’t need to accumulate material riches that are fools gold in the end. But I don’t see anything changing that would reverse the trajectory of overshoot. What a pity.

  3. guesswho? on Wed, 18th Apr 2018 7:54 pm 

    It’s not selfishness. It’s laziness, it’s hate of freedom and independence, hate of natural instinct, and the hyper-sociability of the pig-ape. You like to work together and follow orders in order to ruin lives of your progeny so you can travel in your wheel chair cars because you are in a hurry get to your graves. How can you be in a hurry to be lazy? Bunch of oxymorons.

  4. Boat on Wed, 18th Apr 2018 8:14 pm 

    Hey ape, welcome back. The clue was using ape. Lol

  5. Dooma on Wed, 18th Apr 2018 9:30 pm 

    Jef, modern life is just carefully constructed slavery. The carrot is that if you work hard, you will be prosperous and happy.

    Our masters have excelled brilliantly at selling this dream that people knowingly partake in activities which will eventually render the planet unlivable.

    And for what? To keep a certain few so rich that they couldn’t spend all their wealth in a couple of lifetimes.

    Humans are an invasive species. Strip-mining the planet, permanently destroying soils, causing the extinction of flora and fauna on a never before seen scale.

    If we were carefully nurturing this planet and a species came along that mimicked the behaviour of humans, we would do everything in our power to remove that species.

  6. baha on Thu, 19th Apr 2018 8:20 am 

    One thing I have done in the last year is stop being in a hurry. Enjoy the ride 🙂

  7. Davy on Thu, 19th Apr 2018 9:15 am 

    I think that is he key baha, it is like that if you are doing ok now then this is the best it may get if macro decline sets in seriously. I see us on the cusp of this shift. Enjoy life now. Do not waste a good life with being unsatisfied.

  8. Go Speed Racer on Thu, 19th Apr 2018 11:15 am 

    The biggest problem is the turd-world countries.

    Their citizens only aspire to having a few
    hundred extra dollars, so they can buy some
    crap and throw the packaging into the road.

    They do far more at destroying the planet
    than the USA people. Where do U think all
    that plastic crap in the ocean comes from?
    It comes from places like Indonesia where
    they think they are rich, if they can afford
    a plastic bottle of soda pop and then they
    screw the cap back onto the empty bottle and
    toss it into the river, because they are so
    stupid they think a BIC lighter is high

    I wouldn’t blame the USA citizen for all
    the environmental destruction. It’s China
    where every drainage ditch is filled with
    red-black water from their toxic waste barrels.

  9. Cloggie on Thu, 19th Apr 2018 11:29 am 

    Where does almost all the plastic in the world’s oceans come from? China, India, Africa:


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