Professor Daniel Vohn
28 October 2018
On Climate Change
The problem is that the Earth’s climate is rapidly changing largely due to human activity. These climate changes affect the oxygen we breathe, the amount of food grown from crops, the extremes of natural disasters and much more. It is virtually impossible to consider all the variables affected by changes in climate since it is a vast system across the entire globe. The human activity that has been causing this rapid change in climate is the large quantity of fossil fuels having been burned since the industrial revolution and unrestricted deforestation and fishing.
A changing climate affects every living organism on Earth. Fish are now swimming in unnaturally dirty water, birds flying in areas with dense smog, and business men bribing politicians to keep their industrial activities unrestricted are some examples of effected parties (Willams, “Birds Suffer”, Leitao). Polar bear populations decrease each year because of melting ice and the number of starving people in the world is increasing due to the struggle of harvesting crops in ever increasing extremes of weather (“Polar bear population”).
There is a convincing amount of evidence that global warming is a serious concern for all living organisms and that a large amount of damage has already been inflicted. I recommend we be efficient with our time and resources and speed up the process of becoming a multi-planetary species. Having a habitual planet to retreat to incase the worst is to come is a priceless asset to the survival of our species. Instead of relying on Earth’s natural resources, we could search and harvest from other planets where some have enormous hydrocarbon reserves. There is an entire universe for us to explore. It would be both foolish and ignorant to stay on Earth until our inevitable extinction (Musk). I am also not sure what will happen first; Earth becoming inhabitable due to environmental destruction or humans hitting their population cap on Earth. The trick will be sustaining Earth’s habitualness until we have colonized and inhabited other planets. The estimates of when we hit our population cap and the environment becoming uninhabitable will determine the amount of resources that should be allocated towards maintaining Earth’s habitualness and the amount of resources needed to be directed towards planetary exploration endeavors.
Average surface temperature has been increasing by 1.62 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century (“How Do We Know”). Carbon dioxide levels have risen over 300 ppm (parts per million) for the first time in 400,000 years (“How Do We Know”). Currently carbon dioxide levels are at 409 ppm (“How Do We Know”). The harming effects of air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths each year (“Overview”). An increase in wet climate ruins crops which directly correlates to less people being fed (World Hunger Has Risen”). Canada banned free pollution in their country with a $15 tax on each ton of waste dumped into the environment (“Canada to Impose Carbon Tax”). Sea levels have been increasing by 3.2mm per year due to the melting of arctic ice and expanding warm water (“How Do We Know?”).
Some would say we have made relatively little progress in space exploration to consider multi-planetary habitation. Our first astronauts landed on the moon in the late 1960s, almost a 50-year gap and we haven’t had humans on another celestial body since then. That statistic is concerning but there is a lot of discussion in current media building up efforts to explore our closest celestial bodies. Elon Musk and SpaceX have engineered very cost-effective space ships that may jumpstart our future planetary colonization’s. SpaceX’s BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is said to not cost much to launch payloads of any size because of its unique total reusability (Seedhouse).
Social media and the internet gives humanity the tools to spread a message to a massive portion of the world which could be crucial in efforts of habitual changes. Economically, most businesses involved with non-renewable energy would suffer because the demand would drop. Podcasts and sci-fi movies are also great medias to open discussions on what is happening around us. I am a big fan of the film Interstellar and Elon Musk’s companies Testla and SpaceX.
If we would be successful in becoming a multi-planetary species, our likelihood for long-term species survivability would be extended two-fold. We would be more likely to survive a devastating disaster. We could find enormous quantities of minerals to use as we please. If current efforts to minimize destructive human activity were to fail, we could simply relocate to another habitual planet. Since we will inevitably reach our population cap on Earth, having multiple habitual planets would make Earth’s population cap irrelevant. I feel that global warming and climate change is a too diverse and complex problem to 100% correct and we should have a plan B.
As far as ethical considerations of acting on our own destruction of the environment go, it would be unethical to continue on the path we are going. Corporate Earth tends to value wealth over the survivability of life for Earth’s inhabitants. More people starve as a direct result of rapid climate change (“World Hunger”). Less of Earth becomes inhabitable if it is under water due to rising sea levels (“How Do We Know?”). Personal responsibility is to remain aware of the effect your actions are having on the environment around you.
With the problem being the Earth’s climate is rapidly changing largely due to human activity, we can get a sense of the urgent importance of the issue. The industrial revolution started in the 1800s and combination of burning fossil fuels and the exponential increase of the human population, our environment is being heavy effected and we are beginning to suffer the consequences today. The question of “what can we do” is interesting in this predicament. We can fight or flight. We can fight and try to persuade our fellow humans to change their destructive behavior, enact new laws and personally use less emissions, but is it too late? There are more than a billion motor vehicles in the world. Replacing all those with clean energy cars would take roughly 50 years (Roberts). Some experts have discussed a “tipping point” where the environmental changes cross a threshold and serious consequences come from that. I feel flight would be the best course of action. I think it’s fine to destroy the Earth as long as we have several other planets to fall back on, but until then it is foolish to destroy our home.
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Science and Technology, phys.org/news/2018-10-canada-impose-carbon-tax-provinces.html.
“Modern Slavery and Climate Change Are in a Vicious Cycle of Degradation, According to
Experts.” Phys.org - News and Articles on Science and Technology, phys.org/news/2018-10-modern-slavery-climate-vicious-degradation.html.
“World Hunger Has Risen for Three Straight Years, and Climate Change Is a Cause.” Phys.org - News and
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“Overview.” World Bank, www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climatechange/overview.
Williams, Diana K. “How Does Water Pollution Affect Fish?” Sciencing, 19 Apr. 2018,
“Birds Suffer from Air Pollution, Just like We Do.” Audubon California, 3 Mar. 2016,
Leitao, Alexandra. “Corruption and the Environment.” OMICS International, OMICS International, 22
June 2016, www.omicsonline.org/open-access/corruption-and-the-environment-2471-8726-
“Polar Bear Population Decline a Wake up Call for Climate Change Action.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund,
Musk, Elon. “Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species.” New Space, vol. 5, no. 2, 2017, pp. 46–61.,
Seedhouse, Erik. “Elon Musk: The Space Industry’s Tony Stark.” SpaceX, 2013, pp. 1–15.,
Roberts, David. “Here's What It Would Take for the US to Run on 100% Renewable Energy.” Vox, Vox, 3
May 2016, www.vox.com/2015/6/9/8748081/us-100-percent-renewable-energy.