Because of the harm that humans are doing to the earth, the younger generation will have several challenges ahead of them because of this. From massive deforestation, polluting of the air and waterways, trash in the ocean and mankind populating at an ever increasing rate, it is putting a strain on the resources of the earth. This is meant to look at some of these challenges that the younger generation will have to face in the future.
I am not a tree-hugger or an ultra-environmentalist, so I am not coming at this from this perspective. I do see the good these people are trying to do to protect the earth. But even Hollywood has seen what mankind is doing to the environment as they have made several movies showing how the earth will be devastated by mankind. Many of these are based on mankind destroying the earth with nuclear war; but some are based the destructive scenarios that man’s pollution and harm of the earth that have caused it to be unlivable. I live in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles where I have seen a big difference in the 30+ years that I have been living here. When I first moved here in 1981, there were several days in the summer when you could not see the mountains that surround the valley because of the pollution. I worked in Aerospace at that time and was glad that I worked in a clean room so I knew I was breathing some clean air during the day. I appreciate what the environmentalists have been able to do through pollution control. This is also what gives me hope that mankind can reverse the destructive trend that we are on.
The perspective that I am looking at this from is my Christian worldview. I believe that we are in the days before Jesus comes back the second time. There are many other reasons why I believe the Lord will return soon that is based on the Bible. But because of this belief, it causes me to look at this time through an ecological point of view; will Jesus have to come back soon because the world cannot sustain life for much longer if it keeps going the way it is? After all, the New Testament is specific that God will destroy the world and create a new one. 2 Peter 3:10 says “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” God will destroy the world. Yes, I know that the primary reason of this destruction and re-creation of the earth and heavens is because of God’s judgment upon the earth; but maybe part of the reason is because mankind has damaged the earth so much that God needs to rebuild it in order to sustain the new life in eternity. Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”
It is because of the way the earth operates that we can have life. This planet is like a spaceship and we are limited to the resources that are on it. The earth gives us all of the necessities that we need to sustain life as we know it. Scientists see several problems on our planet that could harm long term human life; whether it is ozone depletion, global warming, soil erosion, overpopulation, pollution, or one of several other environmental problems. I will just focus on a few of these.
It is said there are three most important things in life that we can’t live without. We can live about 40 days without food, about 3 days without water, but only about 3 minutes without oxygen. These are the three I will focus on.
We breathe oxygen from the air. About 21% of the air in the atmosphere is oxygen . Oxygen is at the same percentage no matter if you are in the middle of a tropical rain forest, the middle of Antarctica, or at the top of Mt. Everest. The oxygen is there because there are many plants in the world that convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Winds help to equally distribute the oxygen throughout the world.
In the mid 1990’s there was a TV show on that I liked to watch, ‘Seaquest DSV’. It was a drama that had realistic science fiction. The premise of the show was that the world had exhausted almost all of its natural resources except for the ones on the ocean floor . One of the resources that had been nearly exhausted is oxygen because of the destruction of the earth’s forests. To make up for the lack of oxygen, man had to build several plants that could create oxygen around the world so it would be equally distributed on the earth. Of course one episode had someone trying to destroy enough of these plants so life could not be sustained upon the surface of the earth anymore.
Could the earth actually run out of oxygen? That is a thought that no one wants to think about, because it is the most essential substance that is vital to life. But it could theoretically be possible.
Oxygen comes from plants that convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into oxygen. Forests currently cover about 30 percent of the land area in the world, which is a large portion of the surface. But deforestation is a big problem throughout the world. It is estimated that 18 million acres a year is currently being deforested through the world, this is an area roughly the size of Panama . About half of the world’s tropical rain forests have already disappeared. If our forests continue disappearing at the current rate, then in about 100 years there will not be any forests left . If the world’s forests disappear, not only do 70% of the world’s animals that depend on the forests not have a home, but we won’t have the largest means of the production of oxygen for our planet left.
There are many reasons our forests are disappearing. The largest reason is because of agriculture. Farmers will take out forests because they are on fertile land which they need to grow their crops on or to let their livestock graze on. There are many small farmers who do a slash and burn kind of agriculture. This is when they cut down the trees then burn them. As more people are populating the earth, some forests are destroyed to make more land available for housing and urbanization. Wood is used to make commercial items like paper, furniture and homes, so some deforestation occurs for this purpose. This is a smaller reason, as many companies who make these products also grow their own groves so they can self-sustain their industry.
Deforestation has been a constant problem in earth’s history. For instance, in the continental United States, about 90 of its indigenous forests have been removed since 1600. But in the last 50 years the problem of deforestation has increased rapidly in the world, especially in Brazil and Indonesia.
Not all of the earth’s oxygen comes from the forests, which is good. A lot of the oxygen we breathe also comes from algae and other plants, so it is not like we are cutting off the only means of creating oxygen that we have. Many trees are being planted in cities and other non-forest areas. But with the vast destruction of our forests, we are causing other environmental problems to our earth. Per the noted Livescience article, Deforestation is considered to be one of the contributing factors to global climate change, because this also affects the global carbon cycle. More carbon gets into the air through the breathing of people and animals as well as due to industry. Trees act as a buffer, removing the carbon in the air and turning it into oxygen. But they don’t just convert carbon, they also store a lot of carbon. Then when the trees die, they release the carbon that they were holding into the air. If you have ever watched the movie ‘Apollo 13’, too much carbon in the air was one of the challenges the astronauts faced. Whereas they had enough oxygen on board to get them back to earth, the carbon was building up inside the capsule to where it would have been too large of a percentage of the air, so that would have killed them. They had to convert a buffer to fit the capsule they were staying in. If there is too much carbon in the air, it can kill people. So in killing millions of acres of trees, we are also killing a major source that removes carbon from the air in the atmosphere.
We have an abundance of water here on the earth. About 70% of the earth is covered in water. That is good, because water is very important to life as we know it. Our bodies are made up of 60% water. Our brains are 73% water. In some organisms, up to 90% of their mass is made from water. But of all that abundance of water on the earth, about 97% of it is salt water , which means that only about 3% of the world’s water is usable to help keep us hydrated. But most of that 3% of non-salt water is locked up in ice at both poles.
According to scientists, water is the one thing that makes our planet different than any other. Without water, we would not have life. That is why scientists are looking for water on other planets; thinking that if they find water, they will find other life. Since our bodies consist of so much water, we need to drink plenty of clean water. We also use water to raise our crops so we can eat, water animals, wash and some industries use a lot of water also.
We get much of our water from surface locations like rivers and lakes. But there is also a lot of groundwater in the surface; therefore we dig wells to gain access to it. But water resources have a lot of strain being put upon them. Water resources are being strained by modern agricultural techniques. Here in California, they say about 80-85% of the water is used for agriculture. Some crops, like almonds, take a lot of water to grow.
Water tables are depleting at a disturbing rate in several places of the world, including the US. According to the United State Geological Survey, USGS, ‘Ground-water depletion has been a concern in the Southwest and High Plains for many years, but increased demands on our ground-water resources have overstressed aquifers in many areas of the Nation, not just in arid regions.’ Clean water scarcity is getting to be a major problem throughout the world.
Many areas of the world are in a drought, this causes less water to go around. Just look at us here in Los Angeles, we have to get most of our water from miles away, like the Colorado River or Northern California. A few years ago we were in a long drought, We had to cut back 10% of our normal amount of water usage. We are now in another drought. On April 1, 2015, Governor Brown mandated a 25% statewide cutback in water.
As countries get more industrial, there is a growing problem with water pollution. For example, China, which is the most populous country in the world. It is said that 70% of their lakes and rivers are polluted. That is a major source of water that is unfit for human consumption. Underground water should be safer, as it has been filtered out by the earth. But, according to state media, nearly 60% of their underground water is polluted. Many people there have to drink unhealthy water, causing diseases.
There are also some instances that prevent water to be used for human’s consumption; instead, they are used for conservation purposes. The San Joaquin Valley, here in California, is a major food producer for much of the world. Yet a few years ago, in some areas of the San Joaquin Valley they were denied water so the government could protect the smelt, which is a small fish. Farmers can’t plant crops where they once did, so their land has gone dry and useless. This is because some conservationists think it is more important to keep water to protect a fish species than it is to let farmers use it to irrigate their fields to be able to feed people.
Even though this world has an abundant water supply, we are doing several things to shorten the supply of usable water, a substance that is essential to life. The next generation will need to find a way to produce usable water for their generation. The oceans contain a vast amount of water, but it is mostly unusable for our lives because of its salinity. The next generation may have to build vast de-salinization plants so they will have reliable water sources.
From the End Time Biblical viewpoint, we can see an incidence of a massive water pollution problem. This occurs during the Great Tribulation, after the Antichrist has taken power over the world. Revelation 8:10-11, “The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” This is a onetime incident that the Bible mentions, but we see that something happens to much of the water supply which causes an unspeakable amount of people die.
The other main essential to life is food. This is the nutrition that our bodies need to build muscles and give us energy. With a growing population in the world, the world also needs to grow more food to keep up with the population. If the food supply does not keep up with the growing population, then there will be major famines around the world.
The earth supplies the food that we need. Right now about half of the world’s land surface is used for food production in one way or another. About 40% of the earth’s surface is used for agriculture, so about 10% of it is for raising livestock. So there is a very large portion of the earth’s surface currently being used to feed the world’s population.
That is good, because we need a large amount of food; the current population of the world is about 7.2 billion people . That is a lot of mouths to feed. The world’s population is only getting larger, so farmers will have to keep producing even more food.
The world has always had problems with famines. Even now, hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. With the world being made a little smaller with the communication and transportation systems we have now, there are more organizations getting needed food to the underdeveloped world. In 1990-2, there were 18.7% of the people in the world who were undernourished. But through the help of these organizations, the number went down to 11.3% in 2012-4. The number has greatly decreased, but there is still so much more to do. In the world today, about 805 million people don’t have enough food to lead a normal, healthy lifestyle. That is about 1 in 9 people in the world. There is still a lot of hunger and famine currently going on.
But there are challenges to be able to feed the growing population in the world. This is partly because of the industrial pollution of the air, water, and soil which threatens the quantity and quality of our food. This causes the food that we eat to not be as nutritious as it was in years past. Another problem is soil exhaustion. That is where the soil loses its nutrients. So in order to grow their crops, farmers need to use an increasing amount of chemical fertilizer to replace the nutrients that the soil has lost.
Even National Geographic sees a problem with food production. Here is a quote from their July 2011 article, “Food Ark”; A crisis is looming: To feed our growing population, we’ll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren’t increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we’ve come to depend on for food. It says how many food varieties all over the world are becoming extinct. In the US alone, 90% of our historic fruit and vegetable varieties have disappeared. For example, in the 1800’s there where 7,000 apple varieties. Now, fewer than 100 remain. A big reason this has happened is because scientists have worked to create hybrid crops. If disease, or future climate change, decimates the plants that we depend upon, there will be less food in the world. For example, there is a fungus called stem rust. Its current virulent and fast-mutating strain, called Ug99, started in Uganda in 1999. But it has spread to other countries in Africa and even made its way into Iran. It destroys wheat crops; and there is nothing that can be done about it. They said that 90% of the world’s wheat is defenseless against this disease. They have not come up with a cure for it.
To help produce more food, scientists have developed hybrid strains of crops that can produce a higher yield. But these high yield crops are genetically weaker and require expensive chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides. “In short, in our focus on increasing the amount of food we produce today, we have accidentally put ourselves at risk for food shortages in the future.” Scientists have produced crops that produce more food, but they are more susceptible to diseases.
As these hybrid crops need more fertilizer, this brings up another problem; the world is running lower on the phosphate that is used for modern fertilizer. We use 50 million tonnes of phosphate every year. China and the USA are the world’s biggest producers. The USA produces 19 % but 65 % of that amount comes from mines in Florida which may not last more than a few decades. Meanwhile nearly 40 % of global reserves are controlled by Morocco. The concept of ‘peak phosphate’ is real and we will see prices rise steeply. Usage of these kinds of fertilizers cannot go on indefinitely, as they are not renewable. But without them, the industrialized nations of the world will be able to produce less food for the world.
One more problem I will mention about food supply is civil unrest. When there is food shortages there will be civil unrest, as in Egypt, The Philippines, Haiti and elsewhere. Some countries have imposed export bans on some of their important crop products to meet the needs in their own country. For example, Russia has done this to wheat and India for rice. Also, when countries are at war, it makes it harder for them to plant and produce crops, as they focus more on the fighting. Also, farmer’s lives can be endangered when they are working in the fields. Food productivity is threatened whenever there is civil unrest or conflict. Per Wikipedia, there have been over 115 wars since 1990. But if there are more food shortages, then there will be more conflicts because of this; the result being even less food production. xvi
Per the Bible, there will be a great famine during the Great Tribulation. In the start of Revelation Chapter 6, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are turned loose. The first one goes out as a conqueror bent on conquest. The second one cause’s peace to go away from the earth and many people are killed. The third one causes wheat and barley to be very expensive, meaning they are in short supply. Then the fourth horseman is turned loose, and we read in Revelation 6:8, “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” Famine is one of the killers of one-fourth of the population of the world during this period. This death rate is also caused by war and disease, which can go hand-in-hand with famine.
The next generation has a lot of challenges that they will be going through, so they need to be ready for them. In our culture in the United States, we take a lot of things for granted. Clean, easily accessible running water and a ready supply of food in our grocery stores and restaurants are two of these things. There are more modern conveniences that we take for granted as well that I will not get into now. If these conveniences are not convenient for them, how will they react? If they are not prepared adequately, it will be even harder for them than it has for generations in the past.
If we are in the End Times before Jesus comes back the second time, there is nothing that they can do about it. The problems in the world will just continue to get worse, so they need to be prepared for the hard times before the Lord Jesus comes back. They need to have their hearts and lives right before the Lord so hopefully they won’t have to go through those times, but be prepared for the worse they have to.
But if the Lord isn’t coming back yet, they still need to have their hearts and lives right before the Lord. But they also need come up with answers to the many ecological challenges that are upon the earth. To figure out how to get reliable, clean water to drink, for crops, for industry, for the many ways in which we use water; they also to be able to feed the growing population in the world with the limited amounts of fertile land that is available.
Science will only be able to help them so much with the problems they will be facing. They will also need a lot of wisdom, self-control and patience.
Water levels in CA: http://www.boatharbors.com/california_lake_level_data.htm
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