- About the Earth -
Planet Tellus (latin for Earth) is 4,6 billion years old. Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only place known (to us) in the universe where life has originated and found habitability. Earth sustains liquid surface water, extending over 70.8% of the Earth. Earth's polar regions currently have large sheets of ice covering ocean and land. Land, consisting of continents and islands, extends over 29.2% of the Earth and is widely covered by vegetation. Earth has an atmosphere, which sustains Earth's surface conditions and protects it from most meteoroids and UV-light at entry.
- History -
During the first period after the formation of our solar system in the Milky Way Galaxy, our home planet was quite different from today's world. The surface of the Earth has changed over billions and millions of years, with tectonic plates moving around. During the last 2 billion years the Earth's climate has alternated between a frigid "Ice House", like today's world, and a steaming "Hot House", like the world of the dinosaurs. Some people refer to the whole of the Quaternary period as an ice age because of the permanent ice sheets on Antarctica and Greenland. The quaternary period began 2.6 million years ago and extends into the present. By 800,000 years ago, a cyclical pattern had emerged: Ice ages last about 100,000 years followed by warmer interglacials of 10,000 to 15,000 years each. We are currently in an interglacial state, which began at the start of the Holocene, ~11,500 years ago.
Chemical reactions led to the first self-replicating molecules about four billion years ago. A half billion years later, the last common ancestor of all current life arose. The similarities among all known present-day species indicate that they have diverged through the process of evolution from a common ancestor. Humans evolved in Africa from other primates. Genetic measurements indicate that the ape lineage which would lead to Homo sapiens diverged from the lineage that would lead to chimpanzees and bonobos, the closest living relatives of modern humans, somewhere between 13 million and 5 million years ago. Homo sapiens emerged around 300,000 years ago, and some later moved out of Africa. By the end of the Ice Age some 12,000 years ago, humans had colonized nearly all ice-free parts of the globe.
Beginning around 10,000 BCE, the Neolithic Revolution marked the development of agriculture, which fundamentally changed the human lifestyle. The transition created food surpluses that could support people not directly engaged in food production, permitting far denser populations and the creation of the first cities and states. Early civilizations arose close to rivers, first in Mesopotamia (3000 BCE). These societies developed a number of unifying characteristics, including a central government, a complex economy and social structure, systems for keeping records, and distinct cultures and religions. They variously invented the wheel, mathematics, bronze-working, sailing boats, the potter's wheel, woven cloth, construction of monumental buildings, and writing.
Polytheistic religions developed, centred on temples where priests and priestesses performed sacrificial rites. Today there are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, although four religions accounts for over 77% of the world's population. Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities or saints), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, matrimonial and funerary services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance or public service. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred texts, symbols and holy places, that primarily aim to give life meaning. Atheists and agnostics do not identify with any particular religion.
The Scientific Revolution changed humanity's understanding of the world and was followed by the Industrial Revolution, a major transformation of the world's economies. The Scientific Revolution in the 17th century had little immediate effect on industrial technology; only in the second half of the 19th century did scientific advances begin to be applied substantially to practical invention. Economic historians are in agreement that the onset of the Industrial Revolution is the most important event in human history since the domestication of animals and plants. Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space, 1961. Apollo 11 (July 16 - 24, 1969) was the American spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, in about 1750, human activities such as burning fossil fuels, including coal and oil, have increased greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere.
Currently, there are 195 - 206 independent states in the world.
- Threaths That Impact The Earth. -
A global catastrophic risk is a hypothetical future event that could damage human well-being on a global scale, even endangering or destroying modern civilization.
Nuclear war. Disruptive Technologies. Bycatch. Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Effects of Climate Change. Severe weather. Wildfires. Illegal Fishing. Illegal Wildlife Trade. Infrastructure. Oil and Gas Development.Overfishing. Artificial intelligence. Biotechnology.Global epidemic crisis. Weapons of mass destruction, Population growth. Extreme poverty. Politically motivated violence. Tsunamis. Astronomical waste. Supervulcanic eruptions - Volcanic winter. Comet or asteroid impact event - Impact winter. Harmful solar flares.
Since the formation of Earth and the beginning of life, many catastrophes have occured that have destroyed life forms and impacted on the progress of life. As part of the Earth and the ecosystem, humans strive to survive by learning from past events, and prevent, diminish or at least prepare for expected or unexpexted catastrophic events. A stressor is any event, experience, or environmental stimulus that causes stress in an individual. Stressors are more likely to affect the health of an individual when they are "chronic, highly disruptive, or perceived as uncontrollable". The book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable focuses on the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable outlier events - and the human tendency to find simplistic explanations for these events, retrospectively. The theory What You See Is All There Is (WYSIATI) states that when the mind makes decisions, it deals primarily with Known Knowns, phenomena it has observed already.
- And What Can Be Done. -
Although the planet looks small on a photograph taken from space, it is quite a wide world. Many problems are far too big and complex to solve for the common man, even with "act now!" echoing in your head. Wide and specialized knowledge, networks, money and power are needed. In addition, there is also a risk of creating new problems. Environmental goals are diversive; for example beautiful nature and landscapes for humans, nature as home for other species, plants as deposites for carbon dioxid, plants as food, the importance of clean water and air, clean energy and stopping the rapid climate change. Also, the human need for energy and consumption cannot be removed, only habits renewed. In these cases, join an organization, or support important organizations of your choice with money and knowledge to help them do the job.
World Wildlife Fund's work addresses direct and indirect threats - and the forces that drive them - to conserve biodiversity and reduce humanity's ecological footprint.
Doomsday Clock is a design that warns the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making.
The Global Challenges Foundation aims to promote the development of global decision-making models capable of more effectively and equitably mitigating and, preferably, eliminating the major global catastrophic risks threatening humanity.
World Health Organization's mission is to transform the future of public health.
NASA's Earth Science Division (ESD) missions help us to understand our planet's interconnected systems, from a global scale down to minute processes.
Wildlife Conservation Society - aims to protect the wildlife and wild places we all care about.
Environmental organizations - a long list by Wikipedia.
Organisations Fighting To Save Our Oceans - list by Marine Insights.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.
Make better choices!
The efforts of common man are sometimes regarded as unimportant, as something keeping people buzy and easing their conscience. But, as there today are over 8 billion of us humans on the planet, it should make a difference that many of us are aiming at better choices available to us. Some tasks can with time become effortless habits, others can become interesting challenges.
- Don't panic
- As a consumer, make an effort to learn about products and their life cycles to make a better choice - if not always, as often as possible.
- Recycle, reuse, recreate, give your old outdated things to someone who likes them now. It is not more environmentally sustainable to own less things if it means that you often throw away the ones you already have to buy new ones.
- Buy less but good quality, and pay more for the work, design and environmental care, use less resources.
- In BASTA's database you find articles are registered by suppliers and manufacturers of building and construction products. BASTA is a system for anyone who wants to make conscious product selections with the aim of phasing out substances of concern.
- EU ecolabel
- When possible: walk, bike, use public transport instead or your own car. Share a car, or pay for a daily lift. Work from your home. Think before travelling.
- Use less energy and water. Set a lower room temperature to use less energy for heating, live in a smaller space and/or use eco friendly heatingand care for your house. Turn off unnecessary electronic devices.
- Plant trees, locally or with the help of an organization. Learn about foresting. Learn about gardening, about finding the right combination of sunlight, fertile soil, and water to make your plants thrive.
- Become a climate-smart farmer. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to managing landscapes - cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries - that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.
- Eat less meat, more plant-based protein. Cattle are the No. 1 agricultural source of greenhouse gases worldwide. On the other hand, from a human point of view a cow has the superpower to be able to turn grass into milk and meat those times when unexpected weather makes crops fail.
- Start an environmentally focused project or business
- Become a homo universalis
- Add some environmental awareness to your current job or task
- Oppose disastrous projects
- Be sensible, don't throw the garbage on roads, parks and public places. Or, of course, in nature. Always use the dustbins when available, otherwise carry it with you from wilderness to civilization. Recycle bottles, cans, paper, plastic and cardboard when possible. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Marine debris is litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water.
- Volunteer locally, in Finland or The Bahamas or where you are now.
- Prevent the spreading of pandemic diseases. Follow given instructions when sensibly possible.
- Reproduce yourself modestly. Human overpopulation (or human population overshoot) is the hypothetical state in which human populations can become too large to be sustained by their environment or resources in the long term. The topic is usually discussed in the context of world population, though it may concern individual nations, regions, and cities.
- Study or learn a subject of your interest.
- Stop Multitasking on Your Phone. Make a to-do-list and prioritise the most challenging tasks..
Increase your knowledge!
- Characteristic of the Carboniferous period (from about 360 million to 300 million years ago) were its dense and swampy forests, which gave rise to large deposits of peat. Over the eons the peat transformed into rich coal stores in Western Europe and North America. The formation of coal, oil and gas deposits takes tens to hundreds of millions of years. Currently, anthropogenic fossil fuel burning releases CO2 from millions-of-years-old geologic reservoirs within a few decades and centuries, and the CO2 rise is further aggravated by deforestation, agricultural practices and concrete production. Save something for later?
- Geothermal Basics. It is estimated that the earth's geothermal resources are theoretically more than adequate to supply humanity's energy needs, although only a very small fraction is currently being profitably exploited, often in areas near tectonic plate boundaries. As a result of government assisted research and industry experience, the cost of generating geothermal power decreased by 25% over the 1980s and 1990s. Customers would be willing to pay a little more for a renewable energy source like geothermal. Geothermal power is electrical power generated from geothermal energy. Iceland's energy answer comes naturally: With active volcanoes, bubbling geysers, and hot springs and pools, Iceland sits upon a geothermal world that continues to shape the country's landscape
- Learn about the relationship between poverty and the environment. Why is it that poverty among people puts stress on the environment whereas environmental problems cause severe suffering to the poor? Also rich and famous lifestyles are damaging the environment in untold ways.
- The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarly by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world's major religions. For example, people with higher income tend to have fewer children than people with lower income.
- The longest verified lifespan for any human is 122 years, 164 days. In the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, human LEB (life expectancy at birth) was 26 years; in 2010, world LEB was 67.2 years. In recent years, LEB in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is 49, while LEB in Japan is 83.
- In developed nations the average familial generation length is in the high 20s and has even reached 30 years in some nations. Factors such as greater industrialisation and demand for cheap labour, urbanisation, delayed first pregnancy and a greater uncertainty in both employment income and relationship stability have all contributed to the increase of the generation length from the late 18th century to the present.
- "Breaking boundaries: The Science Of Our Planet". David Attenborough and scientist Johan Rockstrom examine Earth's biodiversity collapse and how this crisis can still be averted. Documentary on Netflix.
- "Revontulien armoilla". Finnish research on northern lights (aurora borealis), solar flares and magnetic fields.
- Into The Ice. The film travels with three pioneering glaciologist on their expeditions into the inland ice of Greenland and descends into a 200 meter deep moulin hole to find out about the bottom of the ice sheet. (Lars Henrik Ostenfeld, Denmark 2022)
- "Klimatnyckeln". A book on climate change and sustainable energy production by Staffan Qvist & Joshua Goldstein, 2019.
- "Ilmastomuutos ilmatieteilijän silmin". A book on climate change and what can be done by Petteri Taalas, 2021.
- Protection of cold environments as wilderness areas
- Climate change. "Global nedkylning. Klimatet och människan under 10 000 år", a book by Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist on climate variability during the last 10 000 years. How climate variability and change have affected different aspects of human history in medieval and early modern Europe (c. 700–1815 CE). It focuses on the identification and interpretation of causal links between changes in climate and in human societies. Global cooling? During the Cretaceous period (began 145 million years ago and ended 66 million years ago) sea levels fluctuated but were in the most part high. In fact, at times sea levels were 170 metres higher than today. A drop in carbon dioxide around 34 million years ago caused Earth to enter a period of global cooling, called an icehouse state.
- Signs of climate change in Nordic nature. Global warming is making Arctic plants release compounds that might help cool the planet. But don’t expect it to outpace global warming.
- "The Spinning Magnet", a book by science journalist Alanna Mitchell. Did you know our planet is a big spinning magnet? The story of a fundamental force of nature: heroic discoveries, lone geniuses and the frightening vulnerability of our world.
- "Die Kunst des stilvollen Verarmens" ("The Art of Growing Poor Stylishly")("Tyylikkään köyhäilyn taito"), a book by journalist and writer Alexander von Schönburg.
- Develop receptive media capability to critically analyze messages. Media literacy education is sometimes conceptualized as a way to address the negative dimensions of media, including media manipulation, misinformation, gender and racial stereotypes and violence, the sexualization of children, and concerns about loss of privacy, cyberbullying and Internet predators. By building knowledge and competencies in using media and technology, media literacy education may provide a type of protection to children and young people by helping them make good choices in their media consumption habits, and patterns of usage.
- Source criticism (or information evaluation) is the process of evaluating an information source, anything used in order to obtain knowledge. In relation to a given purpose, a given information source may be more or less valid, reliable or relevant. The tendency of a source is its motivation for providing some kind of bias. Tendencies should be minimized or supplemented with opposite motivations.
- "Astrobiologia", a book (in Finnish) by Kirsi Lehto. Regarding habitable environments, astrobiology investigates potential locations beyond Earth that could support life, such as Mars, Europa, and exoplanets, through research into the extremophiles populating austere environments on Earth, like volcanic and deep sea environments.
- Facing difficult truths (Climate Psychology Alliance)
- Watch other documentaries to learn more, and search the library and internet for more useful tips and information!
Time for tea?