On the third planet from the sun, the largest of the inner planets of the solar system, human life has found a cozy home. That home, in which man has emerged as the most successful species of fauna for 2 or 3 million years now, is composed of an atmosphere, a hydrosphere and a lithosphere. Air, oceans, and terra firma — all of them are heavily polluted in the course of man’s inexorable conquest and ruthless exploitation of his environment. That is the reason the earth is an endangered planet. Its most successful tenant seems determined to destroy it, and destroy himself as well.
How has man endangered the earth on which he lives? By sheer fecundity, in the first place. There are over 6.6 Billion human beings on earth today (most of them in Asia), all of them in need of food and shelter that are often extracted directly from nature, all of them producing waste and garbage every day.
For about 200 years now, chimneys of industry have been sending up billowing clouds of toxic gases into the atmosphere while pouring noxious effluents into rivers, lakes, and marine shores that are already poisoned by the fertilizers and pesticides of agriculture. That is perhaps why red tide blooms are more frequent, more virulent, and more toxic than they have ever been — a super abundance of nutrients that find their way into the oceans. Whole forests, the lungs of the earth, that produce the oxygen without which human lives would not be possible, have been obliterated in the name of progress. That is why this country’s mountain ranges are badly eroded, and aquifers have run dry. For the past several decades, the human race has been sending up chlorofluoro carbons (CFCs) out of spray cans, refrigerators, air conditioners, and hamburger boxes into the atmosphere where they attack the only defense that the earth has against the sun’s ultraviolet bombardment — the layer of ozone cells 10 to 30 miles up in the atmosphere. Without that defense, we get a lot of problems: skin cancers, eye cataract effect, the heating of the earth that could melt the polar caps and drown whole coastal cities (Metro Manila among the first of them), strong typhoons, and many more social ills.
How much more abuse can the earth take? No scientist in the world today will claim that he knows, but reason says that, in spite of the Ecclesiastes, given man’s constant assaults against it, the earth cannot abide forever. During an earlier age, the land, the sea, and the air had an effective defense against man — their sublime immensity. Man looks puny in the bowels of the jungle; adrift at sea, he is but a dot in eternity of marine and sky blue. But today, against 6.6 Billion human beings that are reproducing at a tremendous velocity, a jungle is less awesome, and the sea grows vulnerable. Forests are being burned and converted into something else at the rate of an area the size of a football field per second. And whole oceans are smothering in the garbage and soil spillages of human civilization. There are indeed, big patches of dead coastal waters in various parts of the world, incapable of supporting marine life.
No, the earth does not abide forever. And the only way for her to abide a bit longer is for man to convert from being her attacker into being her protector. Just look at the natural disasters that are plaguing our world today–the natural disasters that are happening left and right. Isn’t that just proof enough?