We’ve heard time and again that we’re destroying the environment and it’s completely true. Our livelihood relies on the environment, but we haven’t been taking care of it. Data is crucial if we want to save it. Many environmental institutes are working directly on data visualization to map environmental shifts and aftermaths. There’s no telling what we’ll have to do in order to preserve life on earth.
The Earth is a complex network of interconnected ecological systems. Changes ripple out and the effects aren’t always so obvious. But you can be sure that one bad event will only lead to worse things. In order to keep up with environmental imbalances, we rely on data in a variety of ways. From research and conservation to discovery and technology, data is the foundation. Sometimes the data comes from somewhere else but makes huge contributions. One researcher found an untouched mountaintop forest previously unknown to the outside world using Google Earth.
Data reveals crucial information about the environment:
- Carbon dioxide levels have reached the highest levels this Earth has seen over the past 800,000 years, which will make the weather much warmer
- Droughts and other weather phenomena are more frequent, which affects make food very scarce by 2050
- The current extinction rate is between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural rate, which means between 200 and 100,000 species are going extinct every year
Humans have touched most natural ecosystems already, and so much of the damage is irreversible.
“That won’t affect me”
It’s much easier to brush off the data and keep living as you do, but the consequences don’t disappear. Even indirectly, we see dramatic levels of trash and chemicals, which does everything from change sexes in animals to killing predators with poisoned prey. Maybe our bodies have silently been affected, we just don’t know how. Or maybe the consequences are way more obvious. Live near a coastline? Rising seas levels not only disrupt balanced ecosystem, they also regularly flood cities. In the US, Miami has long been a vibrant hub of culture and nightlife. But now, it’s the prime example of coastal flooding and a window into the future. Other major cities around the globe will be majorly affected by future flooding. Record breaking floods are an imminent danger that even affects real estate prices.
If you think you’re far away enough from nature, don’t worry, a metropolitan environment has plenty you should be worried about. Air pollutants and noise pollution are denser in major cities and majorly affect your health. Remember, if the earth is imbalanced, then we all suffer.
Few answers in a changing environment
An orca whale recently made headlines after she mourned her dead calf for 17 days. Scientists closely watched her because while the ritual of mourning wasn’t out of the ordinary, the duration was. What does this mean? No one knows. 3 out of 4 orca calves in the past 20 years have died and all orca pregnancies in the past 3 years were unsuccessful. Scientists don’t know why the orca population is facing this crisis, despite the data we have. It’s a strong possibility that pollution, over-fishing, climate change, or a combination of everything is affecting the orca population (as well as all other marine life). But for now, we’re witnesses to a dangerous series of changes. Sometimes we know why or how something happened, but have no idea what the true consequences will be until it’s too late. Other times we have hold someone responsible but powerful people often avoid the responsibility. So what can you do?
Inaction is more dangerous
Some things are too late to reverse, but we can work to reduce environmental damage by pursuing sustainable efforts. Fortunately it’s a growing topic as we’re made frighteningly more aware of our impact on the Earth. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to change the minds of already powerful industries and corporations, while educating the public for collective action. There are laws in place that are designed to protect, but it’s not a cure-all. Politics are difficult to navigate, even more so when other countries are involved. More places are banning plastic and styrofoam, two of the most used and trashed materials that aren’t biodegradable. There are businesses that focus on biodegradable, sustainable materials to replace the dangerous, wasteful ones we use now, like a compostable and edible straw made from organic ingredients. You don’t have to be politician or entrepreneur, to make a difference. Anyone can help by educating yourself and making small changes.