It's The End Of The World As We Know It [Opinion] As Earth Day approaches, human beings still impose the greatest threat to an already suffering planet

Where do nations stand on their climate promises? Photo courtesy of Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images/TNS

Thursday, April 22, marked the 51st anniversary of the first celebration of Earth Day worldwide: a holiday which is rooted in mass disturbance to the lack of attention in both politics and the media towards the everlasting concern of our dying planet.

Fast forward decades later, the attention and importance placed on our still-suffering planet is astronomically low. While some damage to the planet is out of the hands of the human race, such as natural disasters, the vast majority of plant Earth’s deterioration is undeniably caused by the overuse of non-renewable resources and the pollution of our oceans.

Quite frankly, the use of nonrenewable resources, such as coal, oil and nuclear energy, in the first place is outdated and counterproductive. Since these types of fossil fuels are the leading cause of mass pollution to not only the atmosphere but also several landmasses across the world, it is evident that the abuse of these resources is presenting more damage than benefits in both the long and short term.

Despite the obvious implications of burning fossil fuels for energy, over 80% of all energy in the world derives from these deeply hazardous methods of power when there are several other sources of energy that are not only cleaner for the environment, but also more effective in power distribution. Some of these include solar, wind, hydro, tidal and geothermal energy.

Additionally, the world’s oceans are currently in a deadly crisis, due largely to the major pollution of our oceans. Humans throw away 8.3 million tons of plastic into our world’s oceans each year, and an estimated 100 million sea creatures are killed by consuming plastic per year. Consequently, a mass of plastics larger than the state of Texas has accumulated in the Pacific Ocean, weighing over 80,000 tons. These statistics clearly speak for themselves and demonstrate an alarming signal that we are not giving our oceans the necessary treatment and cleanup they need to continue to flourish and support the very existence of humankind.

While paper straws, both practical and effective, may be one solution to better the polluting of our oceans, there are several other ways that we, as the dominant species of the planet, can stop this gradual destruction of the seas such as improved trash management systems, beach cleanups and a group effort to halt the mass of liter accumulating.

Considering the fact that we are indeed the most intellectually advanced species known to walk the Earth, it is time we start acting like it and take care of our planet before we lose it; at this rate, it is only a matter of time before our dear Mother Earth seizes to support any kind of life at all. Every bottle in the ocean is another turtle lost, every person using nonrenewable energy is another year closer to the extinction of these sources, every toxic CO2 emission is another layer of our ozone terminated. The influence humans have over the survival of our planet is detrimental and astonishing. If we can make a globalized effort to cut down this plastic poisoning of the oceans, she may stand a chance in this trash-ridden society.

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, the world’s attention to the dying planet has been on a downward spiral that continues to perpetuate over and over again, only furthering the damage done to our planet. Without a serious turnover and immediate action, human beings just might be the cause of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction, wiping out all the ecosystems that live within it.

Clearly, we as humans need to simply do better. This planet does not hold the indefinite power to rise from the ashes time and time again; there is only one Earth, and it is our duty to take care of it.

Story by Sofia Osio