The elephantine blue ball made of gases and water that we live on wasn’t formed all of a sudden. It has evolved into what it is right now in a span of 4.6 billion years! There was no life on it when it was formed- it was just a massive ball of gases. Let us now see what stages the Earth has been through to attain all that it is now.
Earth over the aeons
Scientists believe that the universe is constantly expanding and that the Earth has been formed through this process as well. Planets are believed to have been formed out of stars which are made of gases coming together and getting bound. Due to centripetal force, the gases present on the outside get accumulated in the centre and form the core. The core is then surrounded by gas and dust. This body then starts getting condensed and the gas and dust turn into small- rounded celestial bodies. As a result of cohesion, they form Planetesimals. Due to gravitational force, these smaller bodies stick together and form what are called as planets. The planet, then, has a uniform composition of gases but later on, witnesses differentiation wherein the gases are separated in order to form a planet with heterogeneous composition. And through the process of accretion (wherein the planet gets bigger through the formation of layers), the planet’s size increases.
In the same way, the Earth too was formed. In the beginning, it had extreme temperatures, had barren land and was rocky. The atmosphere was composed only of hydrogen and helium. The Earth, initially, had no lifeforms in existence. It had an extremely turbulent atmosphere. Due to this, temperature was high as well. Given the high temperatures, various materials started getting liquefied. The heavy ones sunk to the bottom (i.e., the core) while those with lower densities went on to form the crust. As time passes, the temperatures decreased.
In the beginning, the conditions that prevailed were the least suitable for any lifeforms. But as time passed, minute organisms came into existence. Experts believe that all lifeforms we see today have slowly evolved out of these very unicellular organisms. Due to ecological succession, the flora and fauna developed on the Earth. So did humans. Also, with time changed the landscape of the Earth. There were only two pieces of land (Angara and Gondwana) which were separated by a huge water body called the Tethys sea in the initial stages. But according to the Continental Drift theory, the most famous of the theories related to this, these huge masses of land (referred to as plates) moved slightly for centuries and in fact, move till date. Due to this movement, the Earth as taken its current shape. This has also helped form the various landforms that we see now- the plains, the plateaus, the mountains, the rivers, the waterfalls, the lakes etc. And with all this developed the biodiversity that we see today.
Mass destruction of the Earth
Once upon a time, the Earth was full of greenery. Many poets would write about the beauty of nature. But there are hardly any such places left now. Man has destroyed the Earth. He is still trying to destroy the already devastated Earth!
Man has lived in peaceful coexistence with nature. The primitive humans did kill animals for food; The early men did eat the leaves and fruits from trees. But he never meddled with the nature. He wasn’t so greedy that he would destroy everything nature had given him. After leading nomadic lives, due to the discovery of fire and wheel, man began a sedentary lifestyle. He grew his own food by the rivers or canals and lived peacefully without disturbing the nature. Then, there were those that wanted to control the rest for the sake of possessing land. They eventually became kings. They fought wars over other kings and seized lands. Man still coexisted with nature. Then came the Industrial Revolution. It made man extremely selfish. So selfish that he couldn’t even realize that the damage he was causing the Earth would someday effect him.
Man began felling trees. He polluted the land, the water as well as the air. He started poaching animals for his own benefits. He embraced the technological advancement (I don’t claim that it is wrong but too much is always too bad). Man began using electronic appliances that emit pollutants and deteriorate the atmosphere. He used (and is still using) cars that release chemicals that are harmful to the ozone layer as well as for one’s lungs. He began using plastic that in itself is a huge bane. He didn’t bother about the population explosion that further worsened the situation. The Earth’s biodiversity was hit badly.
Climate change. Polluted water bodies. Impure air. Barely any trees to make the condition better. Melting ice caps. Dying aquatic animals. Earthquakes and floods on large scale. Ocean acidification. Increase in extinct and endangered species of flora and fauna. Coral bleaching. Radiation from cell towers as well as from nuclear explosions. Rising sea levels. Overpopulation. Inefficient waste management. Overgrazing by animals. Usage of pesticides and fertilizers that eventually pollute the water bodies (Eutrophication). Landslides caused due to deforestation. Desertification. Unseasoned monsoons. Running out of fossil fuels. Resources depletion. Drastically falling groundwater levels. Overfishing. Exploitation of the natural resources… Man has left no stone unturned! The humankind has now started realizing the impact its actions have had not only on other beings but also on itself. Had this not effected man, he would have been the least bothered about the changes in his very own vicinity.
Now, governments of various nations are getting involved in dialog so as to right the historical wrongs. Though many people don’t even bother to save the Earth, it is a global crisis. Or everyone must be ready for a catastrophe.
Small steps count
Though many scientists are of the opinion that environmental degradation is due to the emission of greenhouse gases, the governments have not taken steps towards the same. Many activists have been trying to make things better by protesting against the wrongdoings of man and by explaining them the problems it brings. But there has been minimal change in the mindset of the people. But this should not discourage one from doing things that would matter. Everyone contribution does count!
Read: Global Warming
So, here are a few solutions that one could incorporate into one’s life in order to make a difference.
- Educate people around regarding the issue: Whether literates or illiterates, many people aren’t aware of how they are causing the environment to degrade. It’s really important one teaches them about this problem. None would obey a random activist and hence, the educated and well-informed must take up this job for the greater good. One must be made aware of the negative consequences of these changes in the environment and keep updating them with the current affairs pertaining to the environment so that they understand what truly the problem is.
- Avoid carbon emissions: One would better walk to nearby places or use cycles for places that are a little far. Using one’s private vehicles causes far more damage to the atmosphere than using public transport like trains, buses and metro. But, in case one wants one’s own vehicle, one could use electric vehicles.
- Quit usage of paper: Production of paper is one reason behind the growing deforestation. When consumption of paper is decreased, its production market gets collapsed and this would discourage production of paper as well as chopping down of trees.
- Buy products selectively: When one is out shopping, one must make sure purchasing that product will harm the environment in no way. Another simple way to protect the biodiversity is by following the principle of 3 Rs- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
- Small scale agriculture: One could grow various plants as well as food crops in one’s backyard. They could do this without using fertilizers and pesticides by making use of compost.
- Effective waste management: One must know where to dispose wastes. There must be aware of what goes into which dustbin. One could also dig a compost pit and make manure in it. This manure could be used as any organic fertilizer for the plants. One must teach this to one’s family as well as relatives.
Earth is one of its kind. It can support life and this, in itself, is a wonderful thing. But man’s deeds have effected the Earth very badly. And it is now our responsibility to ensure the world is made a better place to live in. Let’s all do the most we can and fulfil our onus.