Environmental health – Status of today
Firstly, I am not an expert in environmental matters. Second, I care deeply about environmental questions. Third, what is the status by today? Fourth, everything in this post is either my opinion or I have searched for the information on the web. Your truth or sources may be completely different from mine. That is totally okay. Please leave a comment about your opinion. This tiny post could easily have been 10 times longer but I wanted to keep it short. It’s just a scratch on the surface and a short summary of where science and the environment are today.
I have started by dividing what makes our environment in different blocks: The Sea, the air, the land, mental health, physical health.
The sea – State of health
The Sea covers 70% of the Earth’s surface. 1,368 cubic kilometers of water, to be exact. That is a lot! The Sea is the connected water area that separates the Earth’s different continents, or some of these areas. That, life on earth started from the sea is a common opinion. It is the availability of water that is the basis of all life on earth. Today 40% of the Earth’s population lives close to the sea. But how is this life giving postulate doing?
Humans impact on the sea
Never before in the human history have so many fish, birds and coral been so few and never before has the pollution been so massive and impacting. Every day, hundreds of species are becoming extinct in our oceans. The marine ecosystem has been changed in its foundation through long-term fertilization and emissions from agriculture, forestry, industry, shipping and sewerage. Leaks from consumer goods, landfills, sunken ships and dumped waste still continue to spread environmental hazard in our seas today. Protective zones against land – like wetlands, mangrove forests and beach beds – are drained or cut down. Fishing has caused over 85% of the exploited fish stocks to be overfished.
Bottom trawling is the worse method for catching fish
This method means that large net bags with weights are pulled over the bottom to scare and catch fish and seafood. Because the trawls catch everything in their way, many fish and their young are also caught. Fish young that, if they had grown up, would have contributed to both food and livelihood for people living in the area. The fact that the bottom trawls are drawn close to the coast also means that large-scale industrial fishing takes from the small-scale fishing businesses and reduces their ability to support themselves.
Plastic in the sea
One of the worse threats to the sea is something we don’t really understand the impact of yet. Plastic that is not biodegradable in our time. Some plastic has a lifetime of 100-1000 years. It’s hard to say exactly how long since plastics are a relatively new product. This plastic creates micro plastic that can be found in fish and in many life forms that live in the sea. Many science projects are trying to sort out the meaning of these plastics. Today they suspect that the particles tie up toxics. So what can we do? Use as little plastic as possible. Always recycle and don’t litter of course.
Your choice of clothes is important
What is important is your choice of clothing which also has an impact here. Polyester and fleece are plastics, which you should avoid if possible. Organic cotton is recyclable and natural, which you should use if possible. An American study shows that around 5, 000,000,000,000 pieces of plastic are floating around in the sea to the weight of 269,000 tons!
You will find this statement on the Greenpeace homepage of their website:
“Every year, 15 billion pounds of plastic are produced in the U.S., but only 1 billion are recycled. Much of what’s left makes its way in our oceans.
We’re all responsible for this mess, and it will take all of us to clean it up. Here’s how you can pitch in:
- Any time you see litter, wherever it is, pick it up and dispose of it properly.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle—you’ve heard this phrase before, but now you know what happens when you don’t. Try to avoid products with excessive packaging and bring a reusable bag to the grocery store.
- When you purchase or find a plastic six-pack holder, be sure to cut each and properly dispose of it. In the ocean, these rings expand and can ensnare or choke wildlife.
- Talk trash to your friends and family! People can’t change what they don’t know about, so help us spread the word.”
Believe it or not, we dump more garbage into the ocean than the tons of fish we take out. We can choose to stop doing that and be one less pollutant choking our seas. – Greenpeace
Future: If the exploitation stops at major sea areas and human influences are limited then many areas can be recovered. The fish usually recovers pretty well if they are left alone and without fishing. Bottom trawling need to be banned and alternative fishing methods should be used instead.
The Air – State of health
Air pollution is made up of gases and particles that have a negative effect on humans and the environment. The reason for this pollution is the production industry, vehicles running on fossil fuel plus the burning of coal and wood. 5,500,000 people die every year from polluted air or diseases caused by pollution. This is more than all the people who starve to death, die from obesity or drug related deaths. To make the air cleaner is the most effective way to improve the world’s health and lower death rates.
The challenges for better air
The burning of fossil fuels stands for the biggest part of the greenhouse effect. These greenhouse gases cause the average temperature to rise globally. The transport system stands for one third of the greenhouse gases in Sweden, domestic transports. The fossil fuel needs to be changed to renewable fuel such as with electricity cars. Vehicles need to be swapped to environmental friendly vehicles. We also need to travel less in total. Flights, cars and truck transportation needs to be reduced dramatically. I believe this will be a big challenge.
How our increased travelling does affects our environment?
Travelling has now become a freedom factor where flying is dirt cheap. No other way of travelling causes pollution as much as aircrafts. If you fly to Thailand and back you would have contributed to a year of pollution for a “normal” person that didn’t fly at all. We need to invent more environmentally friendly ways to travel.
The meat consumption is increasing in the world and that leads to more greenhouse gases. For example, China and India are increasing their intake of meat. This is a far bigger threat than if they start driving cars more and more. For every kilo of meat we produce it generates 36.4 kilos of carbon dioxide. On top of that, a lot of fertilizers are leaking out onto our land and waters.
The rich part of the world stand for the majority of the environmental degradation and carbon dioxide
I meet so many that think population growth is a major problem in regard to climate change. But the number of children born per year in the world has stopped growing since 1990. The total number of children below 15 years of age in the world are now relatively stable around 2 billion. – Hans Rosling
Future: Our air is in the hands of politicians. We need to have stronger restrictions about the carbon dioxide, transportation system and industry emissions. They need to realize that green energy does not mean expensive energy, and that the alternatives sources of energy can also be economically sustainable. Fossil fuel is not the way to go. Political decisions must include alternative environmental friendly energy sources. As an individual, you can choose an electric car or go by train, and also eat less meat.
The Land – State of health
Our three major rainforests are threatened
By land I mean forests, fields, cities and so on. Everything you can walk on, basically. We have 3 major rainforests left on earth; one in South America, another one is along the African Congo belt and the third in Indonesia. In each of these 3 rainforests a lot of strange things are going on. One example is that in Indonesia, companies bribe politicians so they can burn the rainforest down in order to obtain palm oil. Burning down the rainforest itself causes a huge contamination with carbon dioxide and kills everything in its way, including wildlife. It is used for cheap palm oil, for ice cream, chocolate and soap.
The earth is being flooded due to climate change
The increasing temperatures caused by the greenhouse gases cause large polar glaciers to melt. The size of this frozen water is enormous but it is disappearing very fast. We who reside in the protected part of the world of the current day and age may not even know that islands are vanishing under the sea level this very minute. These islands have been homes to many people, fairly unknown to us in the western world. We just cause pollution that the poorer world suffers from. Don’t you think it’s about time for change?
Using pesticides for the crops
This is another way to spread toxins to the ground, into our food and into ourselves. Pesticides cause cancer, diabetes and obesity. Fruit are sprayed more than vegetables. Here are the top 5 fruits sprayed:
The golden rule here is to always buy organic fruits and vegetables. This will dramatically reduce the intake of toxins into your body.
Future: We are completely changing our landscape by the way we live today. New techniques supported by political governance is needed. You can influence this by the way you vote and you can also write to your politicians and ask what they are doing to help the environment.
The Mental health
We are personally responsible for our mental health
Something that we all are personally responsible for is our mental health. Are you provoked by this statement? Maybe it’s easier to continue being a victim of circumstance? If not, then you are exactly the person I want to reach out to. As people, we can improve our mental health dramatically through environmental change. But what is mental health? Does mental health mean the same thing for all people?
Your wellbeing is about what and how you think
Yes, actually I believe so. Mental health for me means the ability to observe what I am thinking about and being aware of how I think. This leads to a distance between me and what I am thinking of. What I think creates my feelings and my reality. So with a distance and an observing eye on myself, I don’t need to feel bad even if I have bad thoughts. For me, joy and happiness are wanted feelings and misery and sadness are unwanted feelings. So in my point of view, happiness does not come from the outside. It comes from within yourself. Your inner being is where the magic happens. Trying to control the outside world has never worked. Controlling how and what you think is possible through practice. This will bring you great powers to your life.
Future: We can clearly see an upcoming, increasing, interest in personal development. It is like Flower Power 2.0 nowadays. Yoga, mindfulness and a general awareness we have never seen before. An open and aware mind is the foundation for a healthy inner and outer environment. Keep the perspective – Learn what and how you think.
The Physical health
Hey hey hey…hold your horses. Dont try to tell me how I should exercise or move my butt. Is this another egg and hen question? If I exercise I feel good mentally. If I meditate I feel good physically. What if I do both?
Future: It’s totally in your own hands. How do you want your body to look and feel? This is the wrapping of yourself. Make it gorgeous.
What can we as individuals do to help our earth?
The short answer is:
- Buy organic products as much as you can.
- Travel less. When necessary choose the train.
- Don’t litter. Tell others that its not ok to throw plastic bottles or other waste in the nature.
- Be aware of what is happening around you.
- Put pressure on your local politician
Climate change deniers – Yes, they still exist
97% of the world’s scientists are now convinced that climate change is a reality. Still, we have politicians that are in the hands of the industry via lobbyism and through people supporting their political campaigns. This is a big shame for the human race. How can money be more important than the health of the earth? New initiatives are taken this very day to support the coal industry which give the solar panel industry a hard time. This is not what I would call taking responsibility for the coming generations. A big shame it is.
Is there any reason to buy organic products?
Yes it is. Its that simple. For our health and for environmental health. There are many certification organisations and companies out there. Most of them are very good and you can feel safe when you buy these certified products.
One of the biggest and most famous organisation for the textile industry is GOTS, Global Organic Textile Standard. They are certifying all steps from seed to readymade clothes. Social responsibilities, salaries, age of the employees, chemicals and a lot more.
I am not an optimist. I’m a very serious possibilist. It’s a new category where we take emotion apart and we just work analytically with the world. – Hans Rosling
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