Planet Green

Our Beautiful Earth

In this infinite universe, with billions of galaxies each having billions of stars, our planet green is as big as a grain of sand is on this earth, perhaps much smaller.

And it's the only place known to have the life. That is how unique the earth is in the vast scheme of things.

planet green
A Beautiful Sight Indeed

This beautiful planet we call home is the very source and foundation of life. It gives us everything we need.

The food we eat and the water we drink comes from the earth. The clothes and the shelter come from the earth. It gives us nourishment and sustains us.

And it is filled with the wonders of nature at every step. The wonders which enrich our life with a physical and spiritual dimension making it worth living.

One of the most striking features of life on our planet green is its extraordinary diversity. It is estimated to include about ten million different species.

These species in different environmental settings form ecological systems which interact and coexist with one another at different levels.

Natural Ecosystem

Ecosystem is an environment consisting of all the organisms in a particular area. It includes non-living, physical components with which the organisms interact like air, water, sunlight and soil.

Any group of living and non-living things interacting with one another, in a biological setting, is an example of an ecosystem. It can be as small as a pool or as large as earth itself.

Natural ecological systems perform fundamental life-support services without which humans would cease to thrive. These include,

  • regulation of climate
  • purification of air and water
  • production and maintenance of biodiversity
  • regeneration of soil fertility
  • detoxification and decomposition of wastes
  • and many more...

These services are generated by a complex interplay of natural cycles powered primarily by solar energy. These operate across a wide range of space and time scales.

The Human Impact

In the past the human interaction with nature was not very disruptive. The human beings were coexisting with natural systems and other life forms without affecting them in a big way.

Since the times of industrial revolution and the advent of science and technology, the equation has changed tremendously. We got the tools and resources to temper the natural system to suit our ever growing demands.

It resulted in a huge impact on the environment with large scale degradation of our planet green. It resulted in depletion and erosion of its natural resources.

It was a result of not living in harmony with mother nature. It was a result of taking much more from the earth and its resources than giving back.

Even the smallest human action impacts the environment in some way.

Do you know that factories powered by fossil fuels produce, on average, 28 kilograms of waste for every kilogram of useful product they manufacture.

A single car produces more than 5000 kilograms of carbon dioxide every year. At least 240 trees are required to offset that amount.

More than 32 million acres of forest are lost each year. And deforestation is one of the major causes of enhanced greenhouse effect resulting in global warming.

Greenhouse Effect

Without going into too much technicalities, it is a naturally occurring process that helps in heating the earth's surface and its atmosphere.

Heat from earth is radiated outward and absorbed by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This process prevents heat from disappearing into space and keeps earth warm enough to sustain life.

Temperature on earth is conducive to life because of greenhouse effect. In itself it is a life-sustaining natural phenomenon helping the earth become planet green.

Some human activities (primarily burning of fossil fuels) intensify the warming effect by releasing additional greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Ecological systems are under immediate threat due to such human activities. We need to cut 70-80% of current greenhouse gases emissions to stabilize the temperatures.

This increase in greenhouse effect due to the negative impact of human activities has led to rise in average temperature of earth's atmosphere and oceans known as global warming.

Global Warming

It is the long term, cumulative effect of greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide and methane, on earth's temperature, as they build up in the atmosphere trapping the sun's heat.

The average temperatures of earth's surface and oceans has been on the increase since mid-twentieth century. And the increase is projected to continue in the foreseeable future.

Global warming is causing definite climate change. And it is a proven reality now, unlike a few years ago when it was more of a conjecture.

The results are unfolding slowly before our eyes.

19 of the warmest 20 years on record have been in the last 30 years. From Alaska to Antarctica this planet green is heating up very fast.

The change is caused primarily by human beings burning nature's reserves of coal, oil and natural gas. This releases vast amounts of carbon dioxide every year in the atmosphere, which in turn traps more and more of sun's heat in the atmosphere resulting in increased greenhouse effect and global warming.

Due to global warming, the life on this planet green is facing a lot of environmental challenges threatening our very existence.

Environmental Challenges

Climate change affects the hydrology and biology of earth as everything including winds, rains, temperature, weather patterns, the Eco-system, is linked.

As we go through this critical period in the life of our planet green, we face many challenges due to the effects of global warming.

Some of the effects are immediate and easily noticeable. Some are indirect consequences and happen over longer periods of time. They lurk just below the surface, in the unseen layers.

The main challenges the planet green faces in the coming times are -

  • Melting ice-caps causing rise in sea levels and desalinization of sea waters with lot of adverse effects, endangering animal species in sea waters. With ice-cap gone no reflecting back of sun light further warming the earth.
  • With the rise in ocean temperatures, increase in probability of stronger and more frequent hurricanes.
  • Severe droughts and heat waves in many parts of earth.
  • Expanding deserts
  • Major food shortages
  • Economic consequences
  • Shrinking glaciers
  • Devastating Floods
  • Unusual cold waves due to changing atmospheric patterns
  • Wildfires
  • Dangerous thunderstorms
  • Crop failures, decreased crop yields
  • Widespread extinction of species - One species, on an average, is lost every hour. This exceeds the rate of evolution of new species by 10,000 or more. At a very conservative rate, about half of all species could be extinct within 100 years.
  • Loss of marine life
  • Health deterioration, Malnutrition
  • Water crisis - depleting usable water resources, scarcity of drinking water.
  • Mega-tsunamis
  • Increased volcanic activity

With all these challenges at hand it is important that we take stock of the situation and take remedial measures at the earliest.

The humanity has hurt the environment in a big way, for a long time. Now it's time to restore the balance. We have to learn to respect mother nature. We will get much more back if we start living in sync with nature.

"The earth provides enough to satisfy everyone's need but not for anyone's greed" - Mahatma Gandhi

It's time to use technology with a proper perspective. It's time to use it for the enhancement of natural systems and all life forms on this planet green, benefiting everyone in the long run.

It is imperative that we use energy sources which are renewable and can be easily replenished.

Renewable Energy Sources

Renewable energy is the energy that comes from natural resources which are renewable and are in constant supply over time. Further harnessing these energy sources does not impact the environment in any harmful way.

The major renewable sources of energy are -

  • Solar Energy - It is the most readily available source of energy. It is derived from the sun through solar radiation. Solar panels absorb heat of the sun to provide energy in different usable forms.
  • Wind Energy - It is the kinetic energy associated with the movement of atmospheric air. Wind Turbines channel the power of wind and convert it into energy. It is the fastest growing renewable energy source.
  • Geothermal Energy - It is the energy tapped from the natural sources of heat inside the earth. Most geothermal power is generated using steam or hot water from underground. Geothermal energy is also used for space heating and cooling in the buildings as well as water heating for residential and commercial applications.
  • Biomass Energy - It is the energy derived from the plants and plant-based materials such as food crops, grassy or woody plants and residues from agriculture or forestry. It is a type of solar energy captured and stored in the plants through photosynthesis. Wood is the main source of biomass energy.

Besides these there are other renewable energy sources such as hydropower, ocean energy, biofuel, ethanol etc.

Planet Green - Our Responsibilities

We have to come out of the artificial circle of life we are living in and take a look at the bigger picture. We have to understand the natural forces governing our lives and become very sensitive to its functioning.

It is important to see how the impact at the global level affects our lives at the human level. In the same way small positive changes at the individual level have the capacity for reversing the climate changes and affect this planet green.

We have to contribute our bit to make the life on this earth more beautiful, safer and richer for this and future generations. It is not only about us but the legacy that we leave behind for our children.

Please see other articles in this section for more information on how we can make the physical environment around us more conducive to eco-friendly lifestyle.

It's time to go back to nature.

Let's recreate planet green.

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Sushil Wadhwa

Sushil Wadhwa
Architect, Interior Designer, creator of Homes and Interiors... more.