Earth Day 2014. While we imagine that we live on a vast world with unlimited resources, we have to remember that this is not the case. In the 4.3 billion years that our planet has been orbiting the sun, we have gone from single-celled organisms that ate sunshine, to sending our technology into space so that we can taste it again. We have managed to harness the power of atoms and reach out to touch the faces of planets once relegated to the realms of myth and fantasy.

We as a species have much to be proud of. We also have much to be concerned about. Anthropocentric emissions of carbon dioxide are escalating beyond the ability of our current ecosystem to process, the effects of which we are still trying to get a handle on.  We are overfishing our oceans and we are factory farming so many animals that their combined methane and CO2 emissions exceed that of automobiles.  The United States cannot solve this problem alone. Too many developing nations are currently burning through their own supplies of fossil fuels to power their economies to emulate the standards of living we in the West have enjoyed for so long. They will not want to lose these hard won comforts. Without consensus nothing can change.

To overcome these issues scientists and innovators around the world are working together to come up with solutions such as vertical farms, power generated from ocean currents and solar arrays, French and American researchers are trying different ways to generate fusion energy; carbon sequestration technologies are already being employed in test cases to suck the CO2 from the atmosphere and contain it deep underground or incorporated into construction materials. Recycling in the United States is more robust than ever, with a large number of cities offering weekly pickup of materials. The efficiency of gasoline engines hasincreased and the number of hybrid and electric vehicles on the road has shown major growth.  Since the creation of the EPA in 1970, significant regulations and associated programs have been put into place to protect the natural environment as well as the health and wellbeing of our citizens; but what about the citizens of the world?

The dangers of rising ocean levels, increasing hurricanes and cyclones, and extensive drought are forcing the United Nations to release studies that for many people appear to be hyperbolic in nature. These studies are done by dedicated scientist within the fields of climatology and paleo-climatology, planetary sciences, and meteorology and are peer reviewed to ensure accuracy and adherence to the scientific method. These studies state the fact that humans are the primary cause of global climate disruption.  Our activities are actually affecting the entire planetary stability of Earth! The scientists are telling us what is happening.

Raising the alarm call for a world on the brink of disaster is not a form of political intrigue or a method to strangle free enterprise. It is what is: an attempt to show the people of this world that things need to change before it’s too late.

“Global warming, along with the cutting and burning of forests and other critical habitats, is causing the loss of living species at a level comparable to the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That event was believed to have been caused by a giant asteroid. This time it is not an asteroid colliding with the Earth and wreaking havoc: it is us.”

–Al Gore