The Earth is a pretty great home to us. We have gorgeous blue oceans, giant mountains and the greenest forests…for now, at least. Our planet is dying. Because of us.
I think the Green Journal illustrates the problem very well:
“The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. Let’s scale that to 46 years. We have been here for 4 hours. Our industrial revolution began 1 minute ago. In that time, we have destroyed more than 50% of the world’s forests…This isn’t sustainable.”
Forests are necessary for every living thing on our planet. Trees provide oxygen, which in case you weren’t aware, we need to breathe. They also are very helpful in keeping fresh air actually fresh. They absorb pollutant gases so we don’t have to inhale toxins into our lungs.
Besides filtering our air, trees have some other great attributions. Almost everyone has built a tree fort or at least climbed a few trees when they were young. Those “pumpkin spice latte girls” love when the leaves change color so they can get the perfect background for their Insta. And think of all the cool animals you get to see living in the tree right outside your window. These would all be lost if we continue to destroy the forests at our current rate.
Nevertheless, we treat deforestation like it’s nothing. We waste paper constantly. Even an individual can make a huge difference here. The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood and other products made from trees according to the University of Southern Indiana. On a side note, each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees. This goes to show just how important recycling can be. Putting in just a little effort can help save our planet.
Even worse, we could also be reducing our landfill size by over half because, on average, every American produces about 1,600 pounds of waste every year. Up to 1,100 pounds of that waste can be recycled every year per person according to Conserve Energy Future.
Additionally, killing off all the forests in the world is affecting more than just those poor trees. It’s affecting all the animals that live in those woodlands. According to the World Resources Institute, 100 species of plants and animals die each day due to tropical deforestation. This is a mass extermination and hardly anyone seems to care. There are so many species that most people don’t even know about and never will because we’re killing them off faster than we can discover them. We are losing upwards of 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest daily according to Scientific American. This can’t continue, otherwise, we will not have enough oxygen to go around. And most species will continue to die off at an extremely high rate.
According to Mother Nature Network, Earth is experiencing its sixth mass extinction. This is the first one in human history and therefore the only one that was caused by human stupidity rather than a natural disaster. We’re killing off tons of cute little animals because we’re just too lazy to toss a piece of paper into the recycling bin instead of the garbage, even though they’re often right next to each other.
This behavior is not okay, so I’m suggesting we start really trying to help out the environment. Start small: don’t bother printing off your five page syllabus if you don’t have to, bring a reusable bag to the grocery store instead of using the paper bags and most importantly, recycle whenever possible.
Jill Morton is an opinion writer for Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]